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Freezing output does nothing for the oil market

If the best Opec can muster is a weak deal not to lift already high production this will add little strength to prices. But the Doha deal may be just the first step

After weeks of shuttle diplomacy, Eulogio Del Pino, Venezuela’s oil minister and the agitator-in-chief leading calls for big producers to cut crude output, has his answer. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela agreed in Doha on 16 February to freeze production at January’s levels – provided, in the words of Russian energy minister Alexander Novak, “other producers agree to this initiative”.If that’s the sum of it, the oil market is going nowhere fast. Russian production reached a record high of 10.88m barrels a day in January. Opec production, at 32.63m b/d in January, is almost 0.6m above its 2015 level. Keeping output where it is will do nothing to stop global stocks building. The Inte

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