Wednesday, June 01, 2016

‘Mum’s the word’ for new Saudi oil minister

After a fact finding trip to Houston, Texas, the Oilholic finds himself back in Vienna, Austria for the 169th OPEC Ministers’ meeting. Based on initial soundbites, the 13 member oil producers’ collective is in a rather content mood. Well if you exclude the Venezuelans that is, who are decidedly grumpy by virtue of their own circumstances.

Recent production outages in Canada, Colombia, and OPEC members Venezuela and Nigeria have served to support the oil price which has lurked around the $50 per barrel level for a while now. It is also now manifestly apparent that non-OPEC oil producers are suffering in an era of lower for longer oil prices. 

The Oilholic recently penned his thought on troubles of US shale players – flag bearers of non-OPEC production – in a Forbes piece, and that’s not where the trouble ends. Non-OPEC production as a whole remains in a precarious spot. Nonetheless, interpretation of the market situation differs from OPEC member to member, with the Venezuelans correctly querying where the oil price would go once outages end. 

There’s plenty of chatter here ahead of the meeting, but one man has largely kept mum – that’s none other than Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih, who replaced Ali Al-Naimi, one of OPEC’s most colourful characters last month.

It is doubtful that a new minister would alter an old Saudi policy. But the new man in charge has stayed away from the media since his arrival on Tuesday. Much to the disappointment of the world’s scribes, there was no Al-Naimi style power walk on Vienna’s Ring Road by new man either.

As for the analyst community, none of us expect any movement on the production quota front, although the rumour mill suggests OPEC might well be on the verge of finally appointing a new Secretary General. For an OPEC preview, check out the Oilholic’s submission to the International Business Times.

Finally, just before one takes your leave, here are two Forbes posts – on Mexico’s upcoming offshore round and US exports respectively – to keep you busy. That’s all for the moment from Vienna folks, plenty more to follow over the coming days! Keep reading, keep it crude! 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2016. Photo: OPEC flag © Gaurav Sharma.

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