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Has OPEC given up on regulating oil markets?
November 28, 2014, 10:59 pm

From North America to economic giant China, gasoline prices continue to fall as the effect of OPEC's decision not to cut quota continues to affect global markets [Xinhua]

From North America to economic giant China, gasoline prices continue to fall as the effect of OPEC’s decision not to cut quota continues to affect global markets [Xinhua]


It couldn’t have been a worse decision for producers Mexico, Russia, Venezuela and others who rely on oil exports for their economic growth.

But consumers and commuters in North America, Europe, and Asia were cheering the expected decision by OPEC to maintain its current output quota of 30 million barrels a day.

On Thursday the 12-member cartel, which accounts for one third of the world’s oil production, snubbed pressures to cut its output.

OPEC’s Secretary-General Abdallah Al-Badri said the cartel would not rush to bandage the price glut.

“We want to see the market, how the market behaves, because the decline of the price does not reflect a fundamental change,” Al-Badri told reporters.

The decision, despite a 30 per cent drop in oil prices since June, sent many markets into free fall.

Before early closing for the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, Brent futures in New York fell three-fold the amount dropped the previous day.

By the end of early trading on Friday, Brent crude oil was trading at just over $70.15 a barrel.

West Texas benchmark (crude) oil fell to just over $66 a barrel.

Most analysts had earlier predicted that oil prices would level off between $75 and $90 a barrel while acknowledging that it will be some time before prices break the $100 barrier.

The $66 figure, the lowest in four years, coupled with a new realization among OPEC stalwarts that markets should regulate themselves from now on, could indicated that oil price decline has not peaked yet.

Supply is more than demand – the stagnation and recession in many Eurozone countries has forced industry and governments to scale back imports; oil prices are unlikely to rise considerably until the global outlook improves.

But one shouldn’t look forward to prices near $11 a barrel – not seen since December 2000.

Asian economic giants and BRICS powerhouses China and India will be sighing some relief at the OPEC decision as both rely heavily on oil imports.

With both of their economies slowing down in 2014 and forecast 2015, the lower oil prices should give them reprieve to realign their budgets to deal with new economic realities.

Conversely, the decision to maintain output at 30 million barrels a day appears to punish Russia the most.

Already struggling under ever-tightening US and EU sponsored sanctions, Russia has seen its exports fall, markets close off, and most importantly the ruble dive since fighting broke out in Ukraine last spring.

This week, the ruble neared a record low against the dollar.

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