Saturday, 17 November, 2018

OPEC strives for new deal as Iran still wary of output hike

High oil prices hurting fiscal balance, says Pradhan OPEC Works Toward Deal as Saudis Propose Plan for Higher Output - Article
Elsie Buchanan | 24 June, 2018, 16:31

As the Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) faces a rift within, ministers of its member countries have gathered in Vienna, the group's headquarters, to discuss the issue of global oil output.

De-facto Opec leader and top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, as well as Russian Federation, which is not a member of the cartel but is the world's biggest oil producer, are pushing to loosen supply controls introduced in 2017 to prop up prices. Opinions vary on what the sweet spot for oil prices is but analysts suggest somewhere in the region of $60 to $70 per barrel for brent crude oil.

So an OPEC deal to increase output could also influence the balance of power in the Middle East. "Need to keep prices down!" he said in a tweet.

And it triggered an aggressive response by Trump, who on Monday threatened to slap a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods in addition to the import duties previously announced.

World oil prices, which had already stood higher earlier Friday, continued to rise after OPEC's decision, commodities traders reported.

By avoiding setting individual country targets, the deal appears to give Saudi Arabia the leeway to produce more than its official OPEC target and fill the gap left by those like Venezuela who can not pump enough to meet their official allocation.

But regional rival Iran has bristled at the thought of lifting the output ceiling at a time when its oil industry is facing renewed sanctions over US President Donald Trump's decision to quit the worldwide nuclear deal with Tehran. US President Donald Trump has been calling publicly for the cartel to help lower prices.

A production rise of about 1 million bpd was emerging as a consensus, OPEC sources told Reuters on Thursday, adding that Iran could agree to that under certain conditions.

Friday's decision means the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will observe the production level it agreed on in late 2016, when it cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day. Current compliance is around 40-50 per cent above target because of production outages in Venezuela, Libya and Angola.

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The output boost agreed on Friday had been largely priced into the market and was seen as modest.

- OPEC's secretariat is looking at new quotas under various scenarios, OPEC sources said. At the same time, higher Saudi Arabian production reduces spare capacity.

Even though Saudi Arabia's headline figure calls for a 1 Mbd increase in crude supply to be phased in throughout the second half of the year, the actual physical barrels being added will amount to less.

"It will probably be around 600,000 or so", he said.

OPEC's decision confused some in the market as the producers gave opaque targets for the increase, making it hard to understand precisely how much more it will pump.

No nation should be allowed to boost output in order to take market share away from another member.

Gulf oil producers' views still differed on Wednesday on how much to increase production and whether such a move should be gradual, sources said.

"The market is going to say, 'That isn't enough, ' and 'How quickly is it going to come online?' That's when we're really going to resume the price increases", Flynn said. The next formal OPEC meeting was set for December 3.

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