Thursday, October 14, 2010

OPEC’s Own Version of He Said, She Said…

Over each of last three years, in the run-up to the cartel's meeting, OPEC Secretary Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri has tended not to give very much away. However, the 157th summit seems to be different; for over the last 6-12 months El-Badri has often stated that OPEC is comfortable with the crude oil price. In fact, he gave quite candid comments in June.

That said the price has remained in the circa of US$75 to US$85 per barrel and is heading higher as the US dollar has weakened in recent weeks. So El-Badri should indeed be comfortable with it.

But of course, no OPEC summit is complete with a bit of the old 'he said, she said'. The most important “he” in question is the Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi who plainly told a media scrum here in Vienna on Wednesday that, and I quote, "Everyone" is happy with the market. To the market that reads like a coded signal he is against increasing output.

The only "she" on the table is of course Nigeria's petroleum minister - Diezani Kogbeni Alison-Madueke – who said OPEC (as always) will be looking at overproduction and non-adherence to quotas, at "this particular conference."

Sheikh Ahmed al-Abdullah al-Sabah of Kuwait when asked how the price of crude was at the moment, gave a short and sweet reply. Quite simply, he noted that, “It’s good.” Concurrently, Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told a local TV network that "all" his colleagues agree they should leave the level of production stable.

Since arriving in Vienna, based on the 'he said, she said' rounds, I have had a jolly good natter with eight analysts here and a further three in London. All 11, as well as those at Société Générale expect a rollover in OPEC quotas and no change to actual output.

Finally as the forward month ICE Brent crude contract bounced to the stop-loss at US$84.55, analysts at Société Générale also believe a further range bound market is possible. "According to OPEC, the recent price rally does not reflect oil fundamentals (and we agree)," they wrote in an investment note.

© Gaurav Sharma 2010. Photo: © Shell

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