Oil’s price plunge gets Putin, Saudi king on the phone for a rare call

Saudi and Russian leaders held a rare phone call as oil markets tumbled, the latest signal that the OPEC+ alliance is trying to build a consensus for an output cut to prop up prices.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz discussed the global energy market on Monday evening, the Kremlin said in a statement. Both leaders confirmed “readiness to continue cooperation within OPEC+,” it said. The kingdom also confirmed the call.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.Credit:AP

US crude futures sank below $US50 a barrel for the first time in more than a year on Monday, as fears gripped investors that the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China is crushing demand in the world’s biggest oil-importing nation. Global benchmark Brent crude in London slid below $US55 to the lowest in over a year.

The rout has added pressure on the producer group, and while leading member Saudi Arabia has been pushing since last week for action, it has met resistance from Russia. Oil demand in China is said to have plunged as much as 20 per cent because of the virus outbreak, with cities in lockdown, flights cancelled, and refineries curbing operations.


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