Analysis: OPEC caught in limbo as options to change status quo limited

18 Aug 2017   OPEC

As OPEC and non-OPEC nations meet for another joint technical committee meeting on August 21, the oil producer group’s options seem limited, leading to a preoccupation with ensuring compliance with output cuts and hoping that the strength of the oil markets lasts longer.  This upcoming meeting in Vienna, following on from a similar meet-up in Abu Dhabi earlier this month in which Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and UAE were scrutinized, highlights OPEC’s commitment to the pact but also the fact that its hands are somewhat tied.  Analysts have said that this need for patience is a “fact of life” that the group and even the oil market will have to live with.  OPEC production starts to climbThere also seems to be a consensus that if deeper cuts aren’t invoked then the rebalancing could drag on much longer, placing even greater pressure to maintain conformity. But deeper cuts could compound the problem.  “The conundrum OPEC and Russia face is as follows: more aggressive supply cuts may raise the oil price but will only invite more US shale production. Abandoning supply cuts will no doubt lead to a price correction into the $40/b [territory] and maybe lower,” according to Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas.  “This catch-22 situation may leave no other option than continue current supply policy and see where oil inventories end up by March 2018,” he said.

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