Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On OPEC chatter & Libyans who matter!

Credible information and several statements made on arrival in Vienna by OPEC ministers and member nations’ delegates suggest that price hawks – chiefly Iran – will now accept an 'official' rise in production quota by Saudi Arabia and its allies Kuwait and Qatar.

That would mean the cartel would now legitimise and accept a stated production cap of 30 million barrels per day (bpd) for all members after talks on the issue fell apart in June and OPEC ministers left in a huff without formally outlining the output cap.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has already been flexing his ‘crude’ muscles. If, as expected, an OPEC agreement puts a 30 million bpd production cap on all 12 OPEC member nations, this would keep the cartel’s production in the region of a 3-year high. The stated volume would meet demand and leave enough surpluses to rebuild lean stocks by 650,000 bpd over the period according to OPEC.

Sucden Financial Research’s Jack Pollard notes that an OPEC production ceiling could provide some upside support if approved; Saudi opposition could suppress calls from Iran. The return of Libyan and Iraqi crude oil should alleviate the market’s tight supply conditions.

“As we come to the year-end, the contrasting tail risks in Europe and the Middle-East seem most likely to dominate sentiment. Increased sanctions on Iran which could cut production by 25%, according to the IEA, could mitigate the worst of the losses if the situation in Europe deteriorates,” he concludes.

Assurances are also being sought here to make room for Libya's supply coming back onstream so that collective production does not exceed 30 million bpd as ministerial delegations from Algeria, Kuwait, Nigeria and the OPEC secretariat met here today, ahead of tomorrow’s proceedings.

Most OPEC producers would be comfortable with an oil price of US$80 per barrel or above, while the Venezuelan and Iranian position of coveting a US$100-plus price is well known. Kuwait Oil Minister Mohammad al-Busairi told reporters, “The market is balanced, there is no shortage and there is no oversupply. We hope there will be an agreement that protects global economic growth.”

As talk of Libyan production coming back onstream gains steam here at OPEC, the Oilholic thinks the key figures on the Libyan side instrumental in bringing that about could or rather would be Abdel Rahim al-Keib (a key politician), Rafik al-Nayed (of Libya’s investment authority) and Abdurahman Benyezza (Minister of Oil and Gas). International companies BP, Eni, Occidental Petroleum, OMV and Repsol will figure too with operations in the country. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo: 160th OPEC press conference table © Gaurav Sharma 2011.

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