As producing countries gather in Algiers for talks on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia signaled for the first time it may accept the idea that Iran keep output at maximum levels but doesn't expect an accord to be reached this week. A deal in November is possible, Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in a briefing in the Algerian capital.
"Saudi Arabia will be a willing partner in this freeze agreement," Falih said. "Three countries have special conditions, namely Libya, Nigeria and Iran."
Saudi Arabia will suffer a fiscal deficit equal to 13.5 percent of gross domestic product this year, compared with one of less than 2.5 percent of GDP for Iran, the International Monetary Fund estimates. The IMF says the Saudis need oil close to $67 a barrel to square the books. For Iran, it's lower, at $61.50. Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell below $46 a barrel in London on Tuesday.