OPEC, Russia oil output freeze deal may be ‘meaningless’: IEA

Updated 23 March 2016

OPEC, Russia oil output freeze deal may be ‘meaningless’: IEA

SINGAPORE: A deal among some OPEC producers and Russia to freeze production is perhaps “meaningless” as Saudi Arabia is the only country with the ability to increase output, a senior executive from the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
Brent crude futures are up more than 50 percent from a 12-year low near $27 a barrel hit early this year, bouncing back after Russia and OPEC’s Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Qatar struck an agreement last month to keep output at January levels.
Qatar has invited all 13 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and major non-OPEC producers to Doha on April 17 for another round of talks to widen the production freeze deal.
“Amongst the group of countries (participating in the meeting) that we’re aware of, only Saudi Arabia has any ability to increase its production,” said Neil Atkinson, head of the IEA’s oil industry and markets division, at an industry event.
“So a freeze on production is perhaps rather meaningless. It’s more some kind of gesture which perhaps is aimed ... to build confidence that there will be stability in oil prices.”
Libya has joined Iran in snubbing the initiative, and the absence of the two OPEC producers — both with ample room to increase output — would limit the impact of any success in broadening the freeze at the April meeting.
The rise in output from Iran in the first quarter post-sanctions has been in line with IEA’s expectation of 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), Atkinson said, adding that Tehran’s output could rise again by the same amount by the third quarter.
“Iran has not exactly been flooding the market with lots more oil. It seems to be far more measured,” Atkinson said.
It will take a while for Iran to regain its pre-sanctions share in Europe, where markets have been taken over by Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq, he added.
The IEA, energy watchdog for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), expects the wide gap between supply and demand to narrow later this year, paving the way for an oil price recovery in 2017.
“We think the worst is over for prices ... Today’s prices may not be sustainable at exactly $40 a barrel, but in this mid-$30s and upward range, we think there will be some support unless there’s a major change in fundamentals,” Atkinson said.


Virtual oil summit planned amid ongoing market volatility

Updated 04 April 2020

Virtual oil summit planned amid ongoing market volatility

  • Meeting follows call from Saudi Arabia for urgent meeting and telephone diplomacy between Kingdom, Russia and the US

DUBAI: Leaders of the global oil industry are planning a crucial “virtual” summit next Monday amid ongoing volatility in crude prices and falling energy demand.

The meeting follows a call from Saudi Arabia on Thursday for an urgent meeting and a round of telephone diplomacy last week involving the Kingdom, Russia and the US, as well as meetings between policymakers and oil industry executives.

The summit is expected to involve the 11 members of OPEC as well as other oil producers from the OPEC+ group.

But exactly which countries will take part in the summit was still up in the air last night. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin was holding talks with executives from the country’s major oil companies before deciding whether or not to participate. The Russian leader has previously indicated his willingness to get involved in talks to help resolve the crisis in the global energy industry, but Russia was also the country that refused to take part in a round of deeper production cuts proposed by Saudi Arabia in Vienna last month, sparking the current price war.

In response to that refusal, the Kingdom increased production and lowered its selling prices. On Sunday, Saudi Aramco, which has pushed output to a record 12.3 million barrels per day, is scheduled to announce its “official selling prices” (OSP) for the month of May, expected to show a continuation of the deep levels of discount to attract customers, especially in Asia, in the battle for global market share. 

Brent crude continued its rollercoaster ride on global markets on Friday, dipping nearly 5 percent before hitting a high of 17.5 percent up at $34.91, before paring gains to about $33.

The options for the producers at Monday’s meeting are limited, in the face of an unprecedented drop in global oil demand. By some estimates, more than 20 million barrels of daily demand was lost last month, the biggest ever contraction in oil history.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, which between them produce around 23 million barrels per day, are unlikely to be willing to take all the pain of bigger cuts without an offer from the Americans.

US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that he expected between 10 million and 15 million barrels of oil to be taken out of supply, but he did not specify where this would come from. Meetings were expected to take place at the White House with oil industry executives and policymakers on Friday.

Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning oil expert, said: “The ‘when,’ ‘how’ and ‘who’ of the potential deal remain unclear. And the larger the universe of players the more difficult it will be to implement an agreement.”

OPEC+ consists of the 11 OPEC members, led by Saudi Arabia, plus 10 non-OPEC producers, of which Russia is by far the biggest.

The involvement of the US in the Monday meeting is also unclear. America is not an OPEC member, but US oil executives have attended OPEC deliberations in the past. American participation in any new rounds of output cuts will be constrained by the fact that the US oil industry is made up of private companies — as opposed to state-directed corporations — whose interests diverge.

While big players including Exxon Mobil and Chevron might be willing to take some advice from the White House, the smaller companies in the Texas shale fields are more focused on the immediate financial repercussions of the past month’s volatility.