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Photo: Alexey Nikolskey/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia plans to boost oil output and sharply cut prices, signaling the first response to Friday's collapse of OPEC's production-cutting pact with Russia and allied producers, according to multiple reports.

Why it matters: The unraveling of the OPEC+ agreement, at least for now, and declining oil demand due to the novel coronavirus' economic toll are upending global oil markets and geopolitics.

  • Oil prices plunged by roughly 10% on Friday and could see another sharp decline when Asian markets open Sunday night on the U.S. East Coast.

Driving the news: Saudi Arabia plans to boost production to well over 10 million barrels per day, compared to 9.7 mbd now, when OPEC-Russia output limits expire at month's end, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

  • Bloomberg also reports that the Saudis have privately signaled they could eventually raise output to 12 mbd.
  • "The shock-and-awe Saudi strategy could be an attempt to impose maximum pain in the quickest possible way to Russia and other producers, in an effort to bring them back to the negotiating table, and then quickly reverse the production surge and start cutting output if a deal is achieved," Bloomberg reports.
  • Saudi state oil giant Aramco is also sharply cutting export prices starting next month, including "the biggest cut ever for Arab Light crude for Asia," according to S&P Global Platts.

The big picture: Friday's failure to extend and deepen the OPEC+ production limits marks at least the temporary end of OPEC's three-year joint effort with Russia to tighten markets and prop up prices.

  • The new fight for market share is likely to drive down prices even further, something that will also bring new problems for U.S. shale producers already facing challenging economics.

What's next: Tomorrow morning the International Energy Agency will announce its latest analysis of how much COVID-19 is estimated to curtail global oil demand this year.

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Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

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The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

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The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 15 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.