November’s Vienna meet may be Opec, non-Opec lite

The November Opec and non-Opec gathering in Vienna looks set for a downgrade.

After the compliance meeting on 22 September, Russian oil minister Alexander Novak said the likely state of the market in April wouldnot be discernible until early 2018. Yesterday, he was explicit: “We need to take a decision in the first quarter of 2018. In November we will certainly discuss the market situation and prospects, but it makes no sense to take a decision.”

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Somewhere, over the rainbow

Presenting BP’s Statistical Review of 2016 today, chief executive Bob Dudley said: “The oil market returned broadly back into balance by mid-year, but prices continued to be depressed by the large overhang of built-up inventories.”

Dudley’s definition of balance here is a straightforward matching of production and demand. Opec and its partners in output cuts prefer to factor in the inventories that are weighing on prices. And weighing they are. Brent has failed to break above the mid-$50s/bl, despite a disciplined cuts programme that has been in place since the start of this year, and has found itself most comfortable at well below $50/bl — below year-earlier levels — since last month’s agreement to extend the cuts.

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