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In London, futures fell to $80 a barrel as crude was swept up in a wave of caution across global markets. Viruses are increasing in Europe and the U.S., while U.K. authorities ban flights from some southern African countries and put travelers in quarantine over concerns about the new strain.
Vandana Hari, the founder of Vanda Insights in Singapore, said that the new Covid variant in South Africa is ringing fresh alarm bells. I expect OPEC to keep its course on its tapering strategy, but if the new variant comes as a major problem in the coming days, it may end up pausing the monthly increments. The OPEC meets on December 2 to decide production policy for January after the US and other nations decided to tap strategic stockpiles to tame rising energy prices. Citigroup Inc. said reducing quotas would hurt the group's claim of providing public good by stabilizing markets, while delegates from the cartel have signaled that supply might have to be held back.
The alliance, which has been restoring 400,000 barrels a day of supply to the market each month, will have to consider internal projections that the reserves release will exacerbate a surplus it forecasts for early next year. The International Energy Agency, which urged an accelerated return of supply, has accused the group of creating artificial tightness.
The ability to meet its expanding output targets has been hindered by under-performance by some members. The group delivered barely half of the increase it had planned for October as African nations - particularly Angola and Nigeria - struggled with production losses.
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