Iraq's production ramp-up could foil Opec's push for curbs

Jermaine Castillo
December 1, 2018

In the week ending 23 November crude inventory grew by 3.6 million barrels - despite USA refineries getting back to nearly 96 percent utilization. "In my view, the current price range is comfortable for producers and consumers", Novak told the TASS news agency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is the world's second biggest oil producer, said on Wednesday he was in touch with OPEC and ready to continue cooperation on supply if needed, but he was satisfied with an oil price of $60.

Later, there was an upside correction and the price traded above the $51.00 level and the 50 hourly simple moving average.

After prices began to slide in late 2014, more than 160,000 oil workers lost their jobs.

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Crude oil price remained in a major downtrend and it recently traded below the $53.00 and $52.00 support levels.

In public and private, the president has told the Saudis he wants cheaper crude, even disclosing that he berated MBS in a phone call in October when global benchmark Brent surged above $80.

Besides, Riyadh also knows that it can't act alone to curb the drop in crude prices.

The choice facing Saudi Arabia at next week's OPEC meeting is dramatic: cut oil production and enrage Donald Trump, or keep pumping and risk ultra-low prices blowing up its economy. Trump has backed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite calls from many USA politicians to impose stiff sanctions on Riyadh.

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But the U.S. also offered generous waivers to allies who imported Iranian crude and might have struggled to find other supplies quickly when USA sanctions kicked in on November 4. The tool, known as OpecWatch, uses West Texas Intermediate crude oil options markets to calculate the probabilities of certain outcomes of OPEC meetings.

Moscow has so far resisted joining any new production cuts and Falih did not say whether he had heard of any change in Russia's position. That appeared to contradict another Russian official who on Thursday indicated a willingness to join Saudi Arabia in supply cuts.

The energy minister of Ecuador, Carlos Pérez, said in a recent interview that he thought prices would end up in a Goldilocks range.

FGE estimates that Iraq could pump as much as 4.7 million barrels a day next year - depending on what OPEC and other producers decide at their December 6 meeting - compared with about 4.5 million in November. "But I personally think we are going to a range of between $65 and $75". Wise stated that that would depend on the severity of cuts adopted by OPEC and its allies.

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Bernard L. Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said it was virtually impossible to predict oil prices more than a month in advance. "He is the disrupter in chief".

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