Watching stock movements on a display at the Dubai Financial Market stock exchange. Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images.

US president Joe Biden’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia as a part of his Middle Eastern tour was not a failure as the Russian propaganda tried to present it.

On the contrary, the US and Saudi Arabia seem to come to certain terms regarding their vision of the global oil market prospects and, most probably, steps which can be taken by Riyadh to mitigate the negative impact of high oil prices on Western economies.

While the details of US-Saudi negotiations are kept secret, the oil market expects that on 3 August – when OPEC+ members meet to discuss production quotas – Saudi Arabia may try to persuade the cartel to increase supplies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Climbing on empty oil drums at a warehouse in Narayanganj, Bangladesh. Photo by Ahmed Salahuddin/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

It was little surprise that Saudi Arabia and the UAE eventually reached a compromise on OPEC production and baselines, despite the high drama at the latest OPEC ministerial. What was surprising, though, was the public nature of the disagreement and the willingness of UAE officials to joust so vigorously with their Saudi counterparts in international media, leading to energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman playing much more ‘a la guerre’ than ‘a plaisance’.

OPEC has had its fair share of drama over the years. Nevertheless, the fact that the two erstwhile allies who have worked closely on finessing the cartel’s policies for decades and, since 2015, co-ordinated on a range of regional policies – Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and, until recently, Iran – would air their dirty laundry in public, gives pause for thought.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar’s principal site for production of liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquid, administrated by Qatar Petroleum, lies some 50 miles north of the capital Doha. Credit Karim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The surprising declaration by Qatar about leaving OPEC on Jan. 1 is a strategic response by the country to a changing energy landscape and the 18-month old ongoing boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Qatar’s decision to move away from a regionwide consensus among the Gulf’s OPEC members is a reminder of the regional tensions arising from the assertiveness of Saudi Arabia, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This display of autonomy spilled over into the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to which Qatar and three of its detractors belong and which held its annual summit on Sunday.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi and foreign investors attend the kingdom's Global Competitiveness Forum in 2016 in Riyadh. Photo: Getty Images.

At the OPEC meeting held in Vienna on 22 June, Saudi Arabia successfully pushed for an increase in oil production, despite opposition from Iran, Iraq and other smaller producers within the organization. But this victory may yet prove hollow, as the kingdom’s biggest challenge when it comes to balancing production and prices is domestic.

On the one hand, keeping oil prices low helps secure Saudi Arabia’s market share, satisfy the US and increase pressure on Iran. On the other, it is in its interests to keep potential revenues at a level that will maximize the value of its intended initial public offering (IPO) of a stake in Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, as well as boost the prospects of Vision 2030 – the wide-ranging economic diversification plan closely associated with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.…  Seguir leyendo »

Oil workers protest alleged pay cuts and plans to privatise parts of the oil sector in a 2016 strike which slashed Kuwait's production output. Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images.

News that an agreement to cut OPEC production was reached came as no surprise, as the hype surrounding the November 30 meeting would have led to a price collapse if a deal was not struck, especially in light of the Algiers agreement to cut back in September.

Fear of this potential collapse was sufficient to sideline the real and deep divisions between Riyadh and Tehran that go far beyond oil. Some form of agreement, no matter how anodyne was essential and, as expected, the market immediately responded positively with typical irrational exuberance as Brent quickly moved above $54 per barrel.

But a more careful reflection suggests that the deal is unlikely to support prices much higher for any period of time, due to several factors.…  Seguir leyendo »

Oil prices poised to remain low as Saudis ‘blink’

“The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent,” said John Maynard Keynes (or maybe it wasn’t him, but no matter). At any rate, that was the eternal verity the Saudi Arabians were counting on when they decided to let oil production rip — and the oil price collapse — in late 2014.

The Saudi objective was to keep the oil price low enough, long enough, to drive American shale oil producers out of business and preserve the OPEC cartel’s market share. (The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries controls only 30 percent of world oil production, which is already very low for what was meant to be a price-fixing cartel.)…  Seguir leyendo »

The failure of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to reach any meaningful agreement at their meeting in Vienna on Friday confirmed that the historic storm besetting the oil market has markedly reduced this once-powerful group's effectiveness and influence.

Far from adding an element of stability, an internally divided OPEC will contribute to further volatility in oil markets, with prices remaining low for longer than many anticipated.

The oil market is being battered by a perfect storm, as three distinct forces come together. The supply side has been destabilized by the rapid encroachment of shale energy technology. The demand side is undermined by declining global growth in general, and the sharper relative fall in emerging economies in particular.…  Seguir leyendo »

Who Will Rule the Oil Market?

A historic change of roles is at the heart of the clamor and turmoil over the collapse of oil prices, which have plummeted by 50 percent since September. For decades, Saudi Arabia, backed by the Persian Gulf emirates, was described as the “swing producer.” With its immense production capacity, it could raise or lower its output to help the global market adjust to shortages or surpluses.

But on Nov. 27, at the OPEC meeting in Vienna, Saudi Arabia effectively resigned from that role and OPEC handed over all responsibility for oil prices to the market, which the Saudi oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, predicted would “stabilize itself eventually.”…  Seguir leyendo »

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries embargo against the United States and states that supported Israel after Egypt and Syria initiated simultaneous offensives against it on Yom Kippur in 1973. While it’s not an anniversary that many will celebrate, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how much more secure our energy situation is, despite our continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Most commentators have focused, with good reason, on the West’s greatly enhanced ability to withstand similar shocks were they to occur today. Equally important, although generally overlooked, is the reality that OPEC has no incentive or real ability to inflict them on the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

The president of the United States has the power to attack, and perhaps destroy, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the illegal cartel that has driven the price of oil over $130 per barrel. This can be accomplished without invasion or bombing. No special legislation is needed. The president need simply allow the states to seek relief in the Supreme Court under our antitrust laws.

The oil ministers of the OPEC countries meet periodically to set production quotas for the cartel’s members and in the process establish an artificially high price for crude oil. Under our antitrust laws, this is illegal.…  Seguir leyendo »

For much of its 47-year existence, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has been a cartel in name only. It could not control oil prices because many of its members regularly breached the production quotas that were intended to regulate the market. So OPEC followed oil prices up and down, as supply and demand shifted. But now OPEC may be the real deal: a cartel that works. If so, that's bad news for the rest of the world.

Look no further than last week's OPEC meeting in Vienna. Oil ministers declined to increase production despite a strong case for doing so.…  Seguir leyendo »