For the last two weeks, oil prices have hovered around $53 a barrel in New York, and a couple of dollars higher in London. Optimism that an agreement among the major oil producers will actually lead to a 1.8 million b/d production cut during 2017 is being balanced off by a stronger dollar, the revival of Libyan and Nigerian oil production, and a steady increase in the US shale-oil rig count.
“If we stay (at $55 a barrel), the world’s biggest oil companies start to make money again. If we go back down to $50 (or lower) in 2017…then those companies are in the negative territory and they go back into survival mode where they have been in the last two years.”
Angus Rodger, Wood Mackenzie’s research director for upstream oil and gas
“Significant advances in battery technology, financial support from governments, regulations and values of Millennials will be key factors leading to increases in electric vehicle adoption.”
Jim Burkhard, energy researcher for IHS Markit
On Saturday, OPEC and non-OPEC oil exporters agreed to an additional 562,000 b/d non-OPEC production cut in addition to the 1.2 million b/d cut that OPEC agreed on last week. At the meeting, Mexico pledged to cut 100,000 b/d, Azerbaijan 35,000 b/d, Oman 40,000 b/d, and Kazakhstan 20,000 b/d after strong diplomatic pressure was applied. Some analysts expressed doubt as to whether the cuts pledged by Mexico and Azerbaijan are valid reductions as their production was on course to decline by that much anyway next year due to natural depletion. The Kazakh cut, however, was seen as important as the country was due to increase production in 2017 by 160,000 b/d as its giant new oil field came in production.
“The OPEC drama is behind us (for now) with the cartel and its friends agreeing to a peak supply. But the topic that’s talked about behind the scenes in Viennese cafes is that of ‘peak demand.’ Every pundit has an opinion about when peak demand will happen. Articles, podcasts, and snappy videos mostly debate in what year our 150-year addiction to the product will begin to wane. Some think it’s as early as 2020; the authoritative International Energy Agency conjectures 2040.”
Peter Tertzakian, Chief Energy Economist and Managing Director, ARC Financial Corp.
The agreement between OPEC and Russia came as a surprise for most. Until the Vienna meeting started, there was much pessimism that a deal would be reached and all indications had been that negotiations were deadlocked over the issue of who would cut by how much. The breakthrough seems to have come when Moscow changed its position from “freeze but no production cut” to agreeing to reduce output by 300,000 b/d from the 11.2 million b/d it reached in November. This change, plus the agreement by Baghdad to cut oil production by 210,000 b/d, was enough to convince the Saudis to cut by 486,000 b/d and the other Gulf Arab states would join in for at total Gulf Arab cut of 786,000 b/d. Libya, Nigeria, and Indonesia were left out of the agreement and Tehran was allowed to increase production by 90,000 b/d to 3.8 million – somewhat short of their 4 million b/d goal. Given the bad relations between Riyadh and Tehran, allowing the Iranians to continue increasing production was the toughest part of the deal for the Saudis to swallow.