When Will OPEC Members Break Out Of Illusion Created By Western Media? – OpEd

Since the Saudi-led OPEC agreed to curtail production, I have been saying that it is an attempt to gulp their market share. Western media, mostly owned by anti-Muslim groups, are still trying to persuade OPEC to further cut output to facilitate the US to attain the status of largest oil producing country.

Until recently, there was embargo on the export of oil from the US as the country was oil deficient. Now the US has attained membership in the club of oil exporting countries — and its exports are on the rise. Furthermore, shipment data also shows more oil being moved through the oceans than when cuts were put in place.

According to Reuters, oil prices tumbled more than 2 percent this past Friday, posting the biggest weekly decline in more than a month. The fall was prompted by rising US production and stockpiles. This completely frustrates attempts by OPEC to reduce the global crude glut.

During the week ended on Friday, Brent fell 7 percent, while WTI came down 6.7 percent. It was the largest percentage drop for both benchmarks since the week of March 10, when rising concern about the supply glut undermined big bets on an oil rally.

Many analysts suggest that OPEC should continue reducing its production for another six months. On Friday, an OPEC and non-OPEC member technical committee recommended extending cuts of almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to be formally approved at the upcoming May 25 meeting.

While it is not clear that Russia would support an extension, it is also feared that OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, if it supports a cut in production could leave the cartel vulnerable. The logic is simple, why should it support the US oil producers?

Reportedly, US drillers added oil rigs for a 14th week in a row, extending an 11-month recovery that is expected to boost US shale production in May in the biggest monthly increase in more than two years. Drillers added five oil rigs in the week to ending April 21, taking the total count up to 688, the most since April 2015. That is more than double the same week a year ago when there were only 343 active oil rigs.

Analysts projected that US energy firms would boost spending on drilling and pump more oil and natural gas from shale fields in coming years with energy prices expected to climb. After taking a hit last year when dozens of US shale producers filed for bankruptcy, private equity funds raised $19.8 billion for energy ventures in the first quarter – nearly three times the total as compared to the same period last year.

A US financial services firm said in a note this week that its capital expenditure tracking showed 57 exploration and production (E&P) companies planned to increase spending by an average of 50 percent in 2017 over 2016. The expected spending increase in 2017 followed an estimated 48 percent decline in 2016 and a 34 percent decline in 2015.

I am forced to arrive at a conclusion that those at the helm of affairs at OPEC are not being sincere with their own countries, but instead facilitating the US’ policy of attaining the status of largest oil producing and exporting country.

Please correct me if I am wrong.


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Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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