Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Oil prices surge as Saudis, Russia won't open spigots

Saudi energy minister rips Trump tweet: 'I do not influence oil prices' Trump tweet biggest insult to US allies in ME: Iran
Lindsey Cook | 27 September, 2018, 08:30

Trump wants the Saudis to boost production to prevent oil prices from rising, while his administration is re-imposing sanctions on Iran, OPEC's third largest oil producer and Riyadh's main regional rival.

The growing need for OPEC and its partners to start raising production and export volumes amid faltering Venezuelan output and pending re-imposition of United States sanctions on Tehran emerged as one the key discussion topics in the preliminary sessions at the S&P Global Platts Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference in Singapore.

The United States will target Iran's oil exports with sanctions from November 4, with Washington applying pressure on governments and companies around the world to fall into line and cut their purchases.

Saudi Arabia and its allies are not expected to make any major political decisions at the meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) this weekend.

The OPEC oil cartel raised its global production forecast this weekend based on higher-than-predicted USA output in a report outlining a long-term rise in net demand, particularly in developing countries. "We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!"

Khaled al-Falih was speaking at a meeting in Algiers of about twenty member countries and non-Opec member signatories by the end of 2016 an agreement by which they pledged to limit their offers to raise the price of crude oil.

In addition to US sanctions cutting Iranian supply, the world is also dealing with a decline in Venezuelan oil production due to an economic crisis in the Latin American nation, according to Trafigura's Luckock.

OPEC, Russia and other countries ignored USA calls to increase crude oil production, sparking a Monday rally that saw Brent futures soar past the $80 mark. Fears of supply disruptions this month drove prices to the $80 levels.

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They have reportedly been discussing raising output by half a million barrels a day to counter falling supply from Iran.

Saudi Arabia dominates the OPEC group of oil-producing nations and Russian Federation is its biggest oil-producer ally outside the group.

Output fell below those targets this year, and in June the same countries agreed to boost the oil supply.

The joint OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee will next meet on November 11 in Abu Dhabi.

Iran told OPEC its production had been steady in August at 3.8 million bpd.

The Saudis and their allies appear to be trying to walk a fine line between accommodating Trump and not putting so much oil into the market that prices crash - as they did in 2014, damaging their petroleum-dependent economies. However, analysts say that it is unlikely that the Kingdom will manage to bring this production to market quickly enough, and it will have difficulties in maintaining that level of production.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose to 71.52 dollars a barrel.

"We expect that those OPEC countries with available spare capacity, led by Saudi Arabia, will increase output but not completely offset the drop in Iranian barrels", said Edward Bell, commodity analyst at Emirates NBD bank.

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