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Saudi steps back to move forward

Unilateral production cuts and reconciliation with Qatar may look like a full retreat from longstanding policy positions. But they may yet prove smart tactical moves

It is perhaps an understatement to describe Saudi Arabian energy minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman’s early January announcement that his country had chosen to unilaterally cut 1mn bl/d of crude production during February and March as a shock. Following on the heels of a sudden move to reconcile with Qatar, many analysts were applying terms such as funk and disarray to the kingdom’s strategy. The prince framed the reduction as a “pre-emptive measure” against a possible new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on global energy demand over the past year. But, speaking after an Opec+ conference where he had failed to stem Russian demands for a 65,000bl/d increase in Moscow’s F

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