"Oil Output Freeze Is an OPEC Agreement With a Catch"

Russia and Saudi Arabia have said they will freeze oil production if others do -- but Iran wants to ramp up production after the lifting of sanctions.

"MOSCOW — As prices have dropped ever lower, smaller oil producing nations on precarious financial ground have regularly pushed their bigger brethren to stop pumping at record levels and help calm the markets.

Now, even the giants are joining the chorus, with Saudi Arabia and Russia on Tuesday calling for a coordinated effort to freeze production.

The plan, which also included Venezuela and Qatar, is a tentative sign that major oil producers are ready to cooperate. And it indicates how deeply prices have fallen, as Russia and Saudi Arabia have previously resisted tempering production.

But whether the plan actually goes anywhere — or is just chatter meant to bolster prices — is an open debate. The four countries said they would proceed only if others commit."

Andrew E. Kramer and Stanley Reed report for the New York Times February 16, 2016.

Source: NY Times, 02/17/2016