CALGARY — Major oil-producing countries failed on Sunday to reach an agreement on limiting output, renewing fears that the crude-price collapse that has heaped pain on economies from the Middle East to Canada will persist.
Officials from 16 countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, met in Doha, Qatar, in hopes of co-ordinating an effort to freeze output at January levels as a way to support prices. Crude slumped well below $30 (U.S.) a barrel early this year from more than $100 in mid-2014.
As feared, the insurmountable hurdle proved to be Iran, which had resisted any limits and skipped the meeting. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries member is ramping up production to resume shipments abroad following the end of years of international sanctions.
Saudi Arabia had insisted on Iran joining the pact. Ministers and delegates ended the gathering 10 hours after its scheduled conclusion, saying they needed more time to hammer out a deal. They plan to meet again in June.
The lack of alignment among the most influential producers is expected to hit crude markets on Monday, and threatens to stem a recent rebound in Canadian energy shares. U.S. benchmark crude had climbed nearly 60 per cent from February lows to nearly $42 a barrel, partly on hopes of some agreement – even if it didn’t initially mean actually reducing bloated supplies.
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