OPEC+ is holding a conference this weekend, I guess you still can't understand it

Golden10 Data ·  May 29 13:13

OPEC+'s measures to cut production are a hodgepodge. They have gone out of their way to confine themselves. The 100 yuan oil price target is yellow?

Javier Blas, a Bloomberg review columnist who mainly covers energy and commodities, published the latest article below.

OPEC+ tried to impress the oil market by increasing several rounds of cumulative production cuts, but it left itself in trouble. The result was market chaos, undermining its goal of keeping oil prices around $100 per barrel.

However, the next production policy meeting, due to be held via video conference on June 2, seems likely to avoid discussing this issue, thereby continuing this ambiguous situation until later this year, or even longer.

Currently, OPEC+ production cuts are a hodgepodge: a major, or “official,” production reduction measures affecting most member countries; two different levels of additional production reduction measures, called “voluntary” production cuts involving a small internal group; another so-called compensatory production reduction affecting a few countries that have failed to implement official production cuts; and another compensatory production reduction measure affecting the second category of member countries that have not voluntarily cut production.

There are many more cases of confusion. Some OPEC+ countries measure their restrictions based on production, while others use export volumes to calculate them, which is a completely different benchmark. Furthermore, not every country measures only crude oil as in history; instead, Russia, the second-largest member of OPEC+, measures various refined oil products, including diesel and gasoline.

Confused? I'm afraid there are more examples like this. The expiration dates of production reduction measures also vary; some are on June 1 and some are on December 31. In terms of compensatory production cuts, the dates for each affected country are temporarily determined, and different months have different production levels.

Finally, the OPEC+ agreement does not include three key countries: Libya, Venezuela, and Iran. The former is still struggling to recover from a decade-long civil war, while the latter two have been sanctioned by the US. Despite this, their production is still rising: the total daily production is around 5.3 million barrels, the highest level since the end of 2018, and an increase of about 900,000 barrels over a year ago.

To make matters worse, the oil market is increasingly skeptical about production levels announced by OPEC+ countries themselves, as well as production estimates in reports called “OPEC Used Data” compiled by independent data providers.

The market has reason to worry that the organization is hiding things from the sea. In the mid-2010s, Saudi Arabia increased production by nearly 1 million barrels per day, and no one, including OPEC members, noticed this.

Although Saudi Arabia's daily production surged to 9 million barrels at the time, Saudi Arabia's own and second-hand data showed that its daily production was no more than 8.3 million barrels. A senior Saudi oil official detailed this in his memoir.

The market doesn't currently doubt Saudi Arabia (although some are beginning to raise questions), but the data from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, and Iraq is jaw-dropping. Judging from shipping data, these four countries seem to be producing much more than they acknowledge.

If oil prices fall, it's because there's too much oil, and growing demand isn't the main problem: it's still healthy. What is dragging down oil prices is additional supply. Some of them are from non-OPEC+ countries, including Guyana and Canada. But there are also some from within the OPEC+ Group.

OPEC+ officials recognize that fundamentals (supply, demand, inventory) are key, but market mentality is just as important. Sometimes, especially in times of high uncertainty like today, emotions overshadow data. The “smoke bomb” approach has its uses, but what OPEC+ needs today is simplicity rather than opacity. It would be more clear if a set of credible production reduction measures that would have the same impact on all OPEC+ member countries, and focus on more easily measurable crude oil production while setting a single expiration date.

A year ago, OPEC+ introduced a system to assess the production capacity of its members, the first step in revising its 2025 production policy, including recalculating the baseline for any production cuts. The sooner this process is completed, the better.

What is clear is that continuing the current chaotic status quo until next year would be a mistake, jeopardizing the important price target of $100 per barrel.

The translation is provided by third-party software.

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