LONDON, England - Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers agreed this week to largely continue with cuts in oil output, in spite of the surge in crude oil prices being influenced by events in Italy.
Nearly a year since Milan, Italy's financial hub, turned out to be one of the first European cities to be placed under lockdown to stem the spike in COVID-19 infections, Milan staggers, as curbs are again imposed.
"Take a look at what is happening in Milan today," Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud stated at a news conference on Thursday, following a meeting of OPEC and its allies.
"These things, they don't keep you at ease with the idea of venturing, leaping into an unknown future," Al-Saud said.
The imposition of restrictions owing to COVID-19 dented nearly one-fifth of the oil demand in 2020 and drove OPEC and its allies - called OPEC+ - to enact historic cuts in output.
Even as global oil futures recovered to pre-pandemic levels - which several experts and investors believed would drive more production from OPEC+ - recovery in fuel demand has been sluggish amidst the incomplete recovery of international travel.
During the meeting, OPEC and its oil-producing allies took the decision to largely continue the present production levels for April, while Riyadh chose to extend its one million barrels per day voluntary production cut by another month.
Russia, which sought to pump more oil into the market, was allowed to increase production slightly, along with Kazakhstan.
Countries, including Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, which at earlier meetings had supported an increase in production, took a different stand, voicing no objection at that time, according to sources.