The coronavirus epidemic that emerged in China and quickly spread throughout the world has had an adverse impact on global oil demand forecast, OPEC said on Thursday at the extraordinary meeting of the OPEC Conference in Vienna, Austria.
"We now live at a time when outbreak of Covid-19 has had a pronounced adverse impact on economic and oil demand forecast in 2020, particularly in the first and second quarters," Minister of Energy of Algeria and President of the OPEC Conference in 2020, Mohamed Arkab, said during his opening speech of the conference.
Stressing that the the global oil market is currently facing uncertainties beyond the capacity of any individual oil producing country to manage on its own, Arkab said "Complex challenges require collegiality and concerted action."
He added that the 14-member OPEC and its 10 non-OPEC allies led by Russia have been in close contact with Chinese officials about the coronavirus.
OPEC delegates have started their session behind closed doors after the start of the conference which kicked off around 1000 GMT, around 90 minutes late instead of the scheduled 0830 GMT,
While no members of the press are allowed to OPEC headquarters, a press centre has been established in nearby Hotel Kempinski. OPEC delegates have also had their body temperatures measured while entering OPEC headquarters as a precaution.
OPEC and its allies, dubbed as OPEC+, is estimated to further cut their total oil production between 1-1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to mitigate the coronavirus-related low global oil demand that leads to a glut of supply in the market.
It will again be a question of how much each member state of OPEC and non-OPEC is willing to cut from their individual output levels, and that is expected to prolong the two-day talks.
After OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) meeting held on Wednesday, Russia and Kazakhstan were reported of not supporting the idea of raising production cuts by another 1.5 million bpd for the second quarter of 2020, according to Russian news agency TASS.
OPEC+ has already cut its total oil production by 1.7 million bpd from the beginning of 2020 until the end of June.
By Ovunc Kutlu