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OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo delivers his speech during the presentation of the World Oil Outlook in Vienna, Austria Nov. 5, 2019.

Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

The oil market is getting closer to balance as demand gradually rises, OPEC’s secretary general said on Monday, two days before the group and ally Russia meet to decide whether to ease output curbs from August.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, have been cutting output since May by 9.7 million barrels per day after the coronavirus crisis destroyed a third of global demand and caused a price collapse.

After July, the cuts are due to taper to 7.7 million bpd until December although a final decision has yet to be taken. A panel called the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) meets on Wednesday to recommend the next level of cuts.

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“The gradual reopening of the economies and societies around the world has provided a much-needed resurgence in demand,” while the supply cuts “have helped reverse a rapidly rising trend in inventories,” OPEC’s Mohammad Barkindo said.

“These supply and demand trends are helping bring us step by step closer to achieving a balanced market.”

The assessment from Barkindo during a webcast presentation on Monday, suggests drastic changes to the OPEC+ deal are unlikely. He did not comment directly on whether the producers would ease the supply cut.

Still, OPEC+ sources told Reuters last month OPEC and Russia will likely ease the cuts from August.

Oil has recovered to almost $43 a barrel from a 21-year low below $16 in April.

The real production increase could be less than 2 million bpd given Iraq and others promised to over-comply to make up for not delivering all of their cuts in May and June.

And Saudi Arabia’s oil exports in August will remain the same as in July as the extra barrels the kingdom is set to pump will be used domestically, industry sources told Reuters.

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