Opec’s challenge - to pump more oil while keeping deal in place

Ivan Schwartz
June 22, 2018

In an historic agreement in late 2016 the OPEC+ group of 24 nations chose to cut 1.8 million barrels of production to revive the oil market from its biggest slump in a generation. Iran has objected to having members with additional capacity such as Saudi Arabia fill Venezuelan output gaps. Zanganeh has said the president is to blame for high prices because of his unilateral withdrawal from the worldwide nuclear agreement and the imposition of fresh sanctions that could significantly curb Iran's crude exports.

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih talks to journalists at the beginning of an OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 22, 2018.

The oil market would normally hear a decision, and typically react, on the same day as the meeting of OPEC members, which is set for this Friday, "but this time could be different", said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group.

"We need to continue to tread carefully; none of us want to see the return of the kind of volatility that allows pessimism to return to the markets", Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, the UAE energy minister and president of the Opec conference, said.

Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at French bank BNP Paribas, told Reuters Global Oil Forum he expected OPEC and Russian Federation to agree a compromise that would see a small increase in global oil production.

"OPEC is an independent organization, not an organization to receive instruction from President Trump", Zanganeh said on Tuesday.

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Most of the shortfall has come from Venezuela, where an economic crisis has savaged the nation's petroleum production. Iran had been expected to oppose any rise in crude output, but it has now signalled it may support a small increase.

Iran is understood to want a coded critique of the U.S., which recently ended an worldwide nuclear agreement with Iran, in the final Opec agreement on Friday. I reckon the size of the output increase has been baked into prices now, so it will all come down to the implementation details when the official communique is released later.

Falih said the oil market had now rebalanced and his aim was to prevent a shortage of crude in future that could squeeze the market. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was down 1.6% on the day, at $73.54 a barrel, on London's Intercontinental Exchange.

But Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi suggested it was far from a done deal, stating that the proposal was not approved by "everybody".

"It would seem that an aggregate increase in production for OPEC+ of between 500,000 bpd and 1 million bpd is the range that is being considered", Tchilinguirian said. "We are in for higher prices for longer", he said.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister said the OPEC ministers will discuss a proposal to increase output by about 1 million barrels per day.

Observers believe a face-saving deal could be brokered if members simply stopped over-complying with the current pact, and agreed to stick to the original reduction quotas - which would bring several hundred thousand more barrels to the market each day.

Other reports by GizPress

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