OPEC’s influence on the Oil Markets

Over the years, we have seen OPEC assert its dominance in the markets. In the short term, as prices recovered in the past month, it is now evident that OPEC has the tools necessary to adjust the markets. Albeit U.S shale remains the albatross on their neck, OPEC is still the leader of the oil markets. In April, when US President, Donald Trump called on Saudi and Russia to end the price war and help the markets recover, it was conceivable that Shale’s influence on the market was waning. Several companies felt the effect of the oil price crash, and Texas, the home of U.S energy had increased levels of unemployment.

OPEC has been regarded as a cartel and has acted as a cartel of late. Last week, for May, the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) pegged its compliance with production cuts at 87%. OPEC also restated the essence for all participating countries to reach 100% of their pledged cuts and make up for any previous deficits in quotas for July, August, and September.

Iraq, Kazakhstan, Angola, and Nigeria prompted into action and ensured they fulfilled their parts of the cuts. Iraq, Nigeria and Kazakhstan have already submitted compensation schedules as the deadline for other underperforming members to submit was on the 22nd of June 2020. This sort of discipline is needed to offer support to prices, which translated into the recovery of the market.

The successful managing of the oil markets during this coronavirus era can be attributed to OPEC+, albeit they were responsible for the market plummeting months ago. In history, OPEC has always found a way to influence the markets during eventful periods. For example, the 1973 oil shock, the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the Asian Financial Crisis all provided opportunities for OPEC to prove their mettle.

The Oil Cartel created in the 1960s allied with Russia and other nations, which results in the term “OPEC+.” According to Investopedia, this formation means they control over 50% of global supplies and 90% of proven reserves. What makes OPEC strong is the absence of alternatives to oil, and the de-facto leader Saudi Arabia, has the world’s lowest cost of production per barrel. The latter gives Saudi Arabia leverage to survive a crash in prices and creates some invincibility, which it leverages to dictate the market.

Conclusively, we have seen prices prop up and U.S shale suffering, OPEC+ seems like the influential deciding factor in the oil markets. It might lose its foothold in the future, but for now, the cartel calls the shots.


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