Kuwait backs extending OPEC production cuts beyond June

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih speaks at CERAWeek last week in Houston.

Kuwait wants OPEC to extend output cuts beyond June, becoming the producer group’s first member to call for more time to balance the global oil market as the rally that boosted prices initially on the curbs has faded.

It’s too early for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to agree on an extension, Kuwait’s Oil Minister Issam Almarzooq said, according to official news agency Kuna. Iraq and Angola, two other OPEC members, have signaled a willingness to back cuts beyond the first half of this year.

“Kuwait supports the extension of the agreement after June,” Almarzooq said. An extension will ‘‘accelerate the rebalancing of the global oil market and will contribute to the return of prices to levels acceptable for producing countries and for the petroleum industry in general.”

OPEC and 11 other major producers agreed last year to slash production, spurring a 20 percent increase in Brent oil prices during the last five weeks of 2016. The rally stalled this year as U.S. output and supplies continued to grow. Brent crude, a global benchmark, has declined 9.4 percent this year.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih’s position on extending the cuts has shifted. Six weeks ago he said an extension was unnecessary; last week, speaking at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, he opened the door to the possibility of a rollover.