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Monday, 20 February 2017

Oil prices: the lonely role of the swing producer

Oil prices: the lonely role of the swing producer:

"The new Opec quota has been in force for six weeks, which is sufficient time to judge what is happening on the basis of facts rather than speculation. The key questions are, first, whether the restraints on production agreed last November are working or not and, second, whether the regime that came into force at the beginning of January can be sustained until June, as planned.

The oil price has been remarkably stable at around $54/$56 a barrel for Brent crude. That is about 15 per cent higher than before the November agreement but still barely half that seen three years ago. So will prices rise further or does the current level represent a ceiling? Let’s start with the facts.

Three things are clear. Most of the target reduction is being achieved but the response on a state-by-state basis is far from uniform. Three countries — Algeria, Venezuela and Iraq — have not cut production or have cut by less than they promised. Outside Opec, the situation in Russia is confused. Some production has been cut but the most recent reports suggest an increase in output and exports, particularly from the Urals. Most of the rest have met their quotas and Saudi Arabia has gone further — cutting output to less than 9.8m barrels a day, almost 300,000 barrels below its agreed quota. Without this, the target would not have been met."

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