Oil ministers and high-level industry officials will gather in Abu Dhabi tomorrow (12 Jan) to assess a finely poised market, the UAE National newspaper reports.

Benchmark North Sea Brent crude futures have risen by more than 30 per cent since mid-November to hit an 18-month high last week of US$58.37 per barrel. Jittery traders, however, sent prices down by more than 3.5 per cent on Monday as a recent rally ran out of steam, leaving Brent at about $55.17 per barrel late on Tuesday.

The meeting is expected to give an indication of the future price of oil affecting production and investment across the world, including key African producers.

The gathering will be attended by Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, as well as Suhail Al Mazrouei, his UAE counterpart, and Mohammad Barkindo, the secretary general of Opec.

Mr Al Falih and other officials from Opec member states have been careful to make only reassuring comments since their deal at the end of November to restrain production – but they are under increasing pressure to make clear how that deal, as well as a complementary one by some non-Opec producers, will be policed to ensure credibility.

The first meeting of a committee to monitor the deal is due on January 22 at Opec’s Vienna headquarters, which will be jointly chaired by oil ministers from Kuwait and Russia.

The event, which is being run by The Atlantic Council, a US think tank, will also feature some senior executives from Abu Dhabi’s oil establishment, including Sultan Al Jaber, the head of state oil company Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).

The key players’ comments will be closely monitored for clues as to how they intend to maintain credibility long enough for the global oil market to soak up a glut that has lasted for more than two years.

While Saudi Arabia and its closest Arabian Gulf allies – the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar – have all made clear moves to reduce exports, it is not clear how or if some other parties will comply.

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