OPEC’s ace in the hole

on June 06, 2017 at 8:25 AM

It is an open secret that the math on the proposed extension of the joint OPEC/non-OPEC production cuts isn’t quite enough to eat away the supply glut currently on the market. Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to a combined cut of 1.8 million bpd but the glut is huge. A strong overhang in production combined with weak seasonal consumption and the ramp up in production of other oil producing nations has limited the effect of the cuts thus far.

OPEC Heads Of State Gather In Saudi Arabia

While tanker ship cargoes make an exact tabulation nearly impossible, the numbers just don’t seem to add up. Yet despite this, the defacto leader of OPEC, Saudi Arabia, seems quite confident that a nine month extension of production cuts at the current level will be sufficient to remove the glut. So the question becomes, is Saudi Arabia simply overconfident or are there more factors going into the equation?

As it turns out the Saudis have a plan which they believe will help push the oil markets in what they consider the proper direction. It is common knowledge that OPEC has openly been encouraging other oil producing nations to join in the production cut and according to Saudi Arabia those calls have been answered.

In a recent press conference in Riyadh the Saudis disclosed they had enticed not just the elephant (Russia) in the oil market in the production cut, they have also induced several other smaller non-OPEC players to join their side.

While Saudi Arabia has not yet disclosed the identity of their additional recruits the list of candidates is relatively limited. An appeal to curb production would only appeal to nations which are net oil exporters and therefore would benefit from a rise in the price of crude. The list of nations who fit into this category is limited and for now speculation is rampant. The world won’t have long to wait however, as presumably all will be revealed after the OPEC conference on Thursday.