Middle East Crude-Benchmarks dip as traders await OPEC+ decision

The OPEC+ is studying a 500,000 barrel per day output cut for February


SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai slid on Tuesday after the OPEC+ reached a deadlock over February oil output levels as Saudi Arabia argued against pumping more due to new lockdowns while Russia led calls for higher production citing recovering demand.

The unusual decision to push negotiations into a second day was taken after a three-hour debate in a virtual meeting of OPEC+, which groups OPEC and other producers including Russia. The talks are scheduled to resume at 1430 GMT on Tuesday. 

The OPEC+ is studying a 500,000 barrel per day output cut for February, and three other scenarios which include stable production or an increase of 500,000 bpd, according to an OPEC document dated Jan. 4 and seen by Reuters. 


South Korea is dispatching a delegation to Iran as early as today to seek the release of a tanker seized in Gulf waters by Iranian forces, with a senior diplomat set to go ahead with a planned visit Tehran on Sunday amid tensions over $7 billion in Iranian funds frozen in Korean banks due to U.S. sanctions. 

Pressured by strict U.S. sanctions, Venezuela's oil exports plunged by 376,500 barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, according to Refinitiv Eikon data and internal documents from state-run PDVSA, financially squeezing socialist President Nicolas Maduro. 

Malaysia's state energy firm Petronas said it expects to resume full production at its Baram facilities, off the state of Sarawak on Borneo island, in the third quarter after halting output in October following an accident. 

(Reporting By Shu Zhang; editing by Uttaresh.V) ((shu.zhang@thomsonreuters.com; +65-6870-3549; Reuters Messaging: Twitter @shuzhang4))

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