ETF Securities Research Blog

Proposed OPEC cuts to have little effect

OPEC members reached an understanding that a production cut is required at its meeting in Algiers yesterday. That is not yet a commitment to cut production and the cartel is likely to wait until its formal meeting in Vienna on November 30th to thrash out the details. A press release on the group’s website says it will target between 32.5 to 33 million barrels per day of production, down from 33.2 million barrels of production in August.

The market has cheered the news with more than a 5% increase in Brent on 28th September. However, we caution that the group has to figure out a method of apportioning the cut. The Conference decided to set up a High Level Committee to study the implementation of the production levels of individual Member countries. If formalised, this is the first time the group will assign a quota in close to two years. While the group traditionally (pre-November 2014) had an aggregate target, it had never made individual country targets. Historically, Saudi Arabia was willing to take the burden of supply cuts. But with Iran trying to pump oil at a break-neck pace, Saudi Arabia is less willing to assume this role. Any deal made in November is likely to hinge on the burden being shared across most members (although countries suffering from outages such as Venezuela and Nigeria may be exempt). We believe it will be difficult to get Iran to participate in production cuts which could damage the chances of a deal being made in November.

Lastly OPEC is aware that their efforts to stabilise the market may be thwarted by non-OPEC countries efforts to gain market share. Saudi Arabia and Russia have already had discussions on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in China about market stabilisation. It appears that Russia will be willing to participate in this effort, but to what degree is unknown. The Committee seeks to develop a framework of consultations between OPEC and non-OPEC countries before the November OPEC conference.

Capping OPEC production at 33 million barrels in of itself will do little to achieve market balance. We continue to believe that the bulk of the heavy lifting to achieve global market balance will be made by non-OPEC countries cutting supply. US$1trn of capex cuts have been planned in the oil and gas industry which will bite into supply. Additionally, weak prices should support the growth of demand.

We believe that crude will continue to trade in a range of US$40-55/bbl, with nimble tight oil producers in the US playing an influential role in setting the top and bottom of this range.

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