Friday, June 05, 2015

No change at OPEC, 30mbpd is the 'official' quota

It was over in a jiffy – that’s the best explanation one can come up with. So the OPEC ministers arrived at 10am CET, did their customary presser, opening note came in, sandwiches followed (nothing worse than keeping analysts and scribes hungry) and then time slot for the formal quota announcement kept getting revised from 1600CET to 1530CET to 1430CET. Before you knew it – in came Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri at 1400CET to convey what everybody had already factored in, the ‘official quota’ stays at 30 million barrels per day (bpd).

Official quota in inverted commas because we all know OPEC is pumping way more than that. Surveys suggest that between the 12 member, the exporters’ collective led by Saudi Arabia is producing over 31.5 million bpd. Even OPEC’s official monthly report from April put production at 30.93 million bpd. With demand tepid and the oil price neither here not there, but better than January, where was the incentive to change, as one opined last month.

In fact, the Oilholic is getting quite used to filing an end of conference blog post from here titled “no change at OPEC” often followed by “in line with market expectation”. Quite like the 166th meeting, that number 167 followed the recent norm was hardly a surprise. Perhaps they'd had enough of each other at OPEC International Seminar which came before the meeting. 

But as one’s good friend Jason Schenker, President of Prestige Economics, says “Oil has always been a story of demand”; El-Badri & co. saw tepid demand and responded leaving production as it was.

OPEC is indeed forecasting world oil demand to increase in the second half of 2015 and in 2016, with growth driven by non-OECD countries. But nothing quite like what it was in 2014.

There was one rather intriguing development, for according to El-Badri it seems we’ve all got it wrong. The so-called, OPEC production quota, it turns out isn’t a quota at all. "It is not a quota as such, but rather a recommendation given to members which we expect them to take," said the longstanding Secretary General.

He also said OPEC in fact had no target price, when asked if the Iranians' opinion that US$75 per barrel would be adequate was a view he shared.

“OPEC does not have a so-called oil price target. I agree that there are income disparities within OPEC. We have rich oil exporters and poor oil exporters; our decision in November [to hold production] as well as what we have decided today is in the interest of all members.”

On the supply side, non-OPEC growth in 2015 is expected to be just below 700,000 barrels per day, which is only around one-third of the growth witnessed in 2014. That's all from Vienna for the moment folks. Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2015. OPEC Secretariat, Helferstorferstrasse 17, Vienna, Austria © Gaurav Sharma

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