Keep Oil Flowing, Says Trump Ahead Of Oil-Exporting Nations' Group Meet

International Brent crude oil futures were down 56 cents or 0.9 percent at $61.52 per barrel

Oil prices fell 1% on Wednesday, weighed down by swelling United States (US) inventories and a plunge in global stock markets as China's government warned of increasing economic headwinds.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met with the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, on Wednesday, a day before OPEC is meeting to discuss new production cuts to rebalance the market, Reuters reported, quoting sources familiar with the meeting.

Oil prices were pressured by a weekly report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) that said USA crude inventories rose by 5.4 million barrels in the week to 30 November, to 448 million barrels, in a sign that U.S. oil markets are in a growing glut.

Trump's comment came as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil-producing nations prepared to meet Thursday and Friday, December 6-7, in Vienna to discuss lowering their output.

The move has frustrated many producers, prompting Qatar to announce that it was quitting OPEC to focus on gas in a swipe at Saudi Arabia.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that a deal gets done, but the devil will be in the detail", said Mohammad Darwazah, a director at Medley Global Advisers.

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Although Russia, the largest producer in the wider group known as OPEC+, agreed to a cut in principle, the eventual size of their contribution remains undefined and will be key to putting together the final deal.

Riyadh wants Moscow to contribute at least 250,000-300,000 bpd to the cut but Russian Federation insists the quantity should be only half of that, OPEC and non-OPEC sources said. Those differences persisted after Wednesday's meeting, OPEC delegates said.

Iran is now subject to USA sanctions and as such won't participate in any curbs, the country's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili said this week.

In a sign of easing tensions between the world's two biggest economies, Chinese oil trader Unipec plans to resume U.S. crude shipments to China by March after the Xi-Trump deal at the G20 meeting reduced the risk of tariffs being imposed on these imports, people with knowledge of the matter said.

"Markets.believe the production cut deal will be in range of 1-1.3 million bpd", ANZ bank said on Thursday.

After the USA granted waivers to eight of Iran's key oil buyers to continue importing Iranian oil at reduced volumes at least until early May 2019, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, as well as their key partner in the non-OPEC group, Russia, are now considering a new cut and a U-turn from their pump-to-compensate-for-Iran policy that started in June. "Especially the big boys - they would want to keep this cut very close to their heart".

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