Trump Presses OPEC to Reduce Prices as Crude Trades Near $80
23 September, 2018, 19:01
Given U.S. president Donald Trump's repeated blasting this summer of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) causing high oil prices, it was inevitable that he would resume focus following this week's disclosure that member Saudi Arabia could live with prices over $80 per barrel.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russian Federation, meet on Sunday in Algeria to discuss how to allocate supply increases to offset the loss of Iranian barrels.
USA crude inventories fell last week for the fifth straight week by 2.1 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration's weekly data reported on Wednesday.
Although supply worries have pushed up oil prices, OPEC and its allies were not likely to agree to an official increase in crude output at this weekend's meeting, OPEC sources said.
According to Tamas Varga, a strategist with PVM Oil Associates, the question is not about the price movements being justified, rather, the current dictator of crude oil's price is the ability of producers to supply the amount of oil actually needed.
'It's complicated. Saudi Arabia has to balance oil supply and demand, and it has to balance oil prices so they don't rise too much before the US elections, ' one OPEC sourcetoldReuters.
The rebound gained steam earlier this year after production problems in countries like Venezuela and Libya caused the group to cut more deeply than they intended.
"I will block any OPEC decision that poses the slightest threat to Iran", Iran's oil minister said.
Trump sent several tweets stating that prices are too high after Brent rose to a three-year high in May.
USA crude oil stockpiles fell 2.1 million barrels in the week to September 14 to 394.1 million barrels, the lowest level since February 2015, EIA data showed. The agency forecasts an average of 10.7 million barrels per day for 2018, compared with 9.4 million barrels per day previous year, and forecasts an average of 11.5 million barrels per day in 2019.
USA sanctions on Iran's oil exports come into force on November 4.
Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar have increased production by a total of 794,000 b/d during May-August, half of which came from Saudi Arabia.
With the caveat that it's quite possible to over-interpret Trump's tweets, today's action underscores the tricky oil politics facing the White House.
Oil prices have been climbing sharply since OPEC agreed to a historic deal to curb production in late 2016. That's because Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation - the group's two largest producers - have already moved beyond the 2016 deal to cut output, and U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing them to do even more.
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