When officials from OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing countries met by video conference on Thursday, they had a lot to worry about. Those concerns included whether the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus might torpedo the budding economic recovery, and the restiveness of the United States and key Asian customers, including China, over high oil prices.
In the end, the group known as OPEC Plus decided to take the easy route and stick with a previously agreed to program of gradually adding oil to the market. They decided to raise production by 400,000 barrels a day in January, just as they have in recent months.
But to show worried oil markets that they are ready to change that plan if needed, the producers said in a news release that their meeting would “remain in session” so the producers could monitor the market and “make immediate adjustments if required.”
Maintaining the planned increase will probably ease friction with the Biden administration, which last month orchestrated a release of oil stocks from the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve in conjunction with smaller moves by other large oil consumers. And the decision also appeared to be a signal that it remains unclear what affect the Omicron variant will have on the world economy.
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