OPEC+ Agrees to Boost Crude Supply by 100,000bpd in September

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The OPEC+ has agreed to increase its September output by a slower 100,000 barrels per day, amid continued price volatility caused by fears of a recession that could dent crude demand.

At an online meeting yesterday, the group took the decision to bring additional crude to the market. The online meeting comes ahead of a physical meeting on September 5 to review market dynamics, the group said in a statement yesterday

In June, OPEC+ agreed to increase its July and August crude production by about 50% to 648,000bpd, fully restoring the 5.8mbpd output that was cut during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The meeting noted the dynamic and rapidly evolving fundamentals, necessitating continuous assessment of market conditions,” the statement said.

“The severely limited availability of excess capacity necessitates utilising it with great caution in response to severe supply disruptions.”

The National said in a report that oil prices have remained volatile in recent weeks and fears of a slump in demand have pulled prices down from recent highs of more than $123 per barrel.

Brent, which rose to a notch under $140 per barrel in March after Russia’s military assault in Ukraine, has given up most gains and closed below the $100 per barrel mark on Monday. But despite recent weakness, crude is still about 30% higher since the beginning of this year.

OPEC+ is unlikely to pump as much as it intends, as many members of the alliance have been struggling with capacity constraints for years.

in a communique yesterday underscored its “particular concern” that “insufficient investment into the upstream sector will impact the availability of adequate supply in a timely manner to meet growing demand beyond 2023”.

The alliance noted that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development commercial oil stocks level at 2,712 million barrels in June 2022 was 163 million barrels lower than the same time last year and 236 million below the 2015-2019 average.

Emergency oil stocks have also reached their lowest levels in more than 30 years. It said that global oil demand will continue to grow next year, indicating more pressure on an already tight market, with producers required to pump almost 1 million more bpd in 2023.

Two members of OPEC, Arabia and the UAE, have the significant capacity to boost production. They have a combined spare oil capacity of more than 2million bpd, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Both countries, however, are already close to the level where they can produce at a sustained pace. OPEC+, led by Arabia and Russia, has been shepherding crude markets since 2016 and achieved a historic reduction of 9.7million bpd between May 2020 and July 2021.

Since the war in Ukraine, the alliance has been under pressure to raise production. The group has resisted calls from Joe Biden and G7 to significantly increase production to tame oil prices that have fed inflation, which has climbed around the globe and is at a 40-year high in the US.

The OPEC+ alliance has maintained that the volatility in oil markets was not being caused by fundamentals and that higher oil prices were a result of geopolitical developments.

US President Joe Biden, while visiting Arabia last month, said he expects the group to take “further steps” to boost output. US officials have since signaled confidence that Saudi Arabia will push for an increase in crude production.

Growing uncertainty about the global economic outlook and the continuation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict have added to both demand and supply side concerns in recent months.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) now projects global growth at 3.2% in 2022 and 2.9% in 2023, revising it down 0.4 percentage points and 0.7 percentage points from its April forecast, respectively. This compares with a 6.1% expansion last year, The National report said.

The fund warned if further risks materialise and inflation rises further, global growth could decline to about 2.6% and 2% in 2022 and 2023, respectively, which would put growth in the bottom 10% of outcomes since 1970.

 “The demand outlook is particularly hazy given that the US has now recorded two quarters in a row of a shrinking economy — the usual, but not American way of defining a recession — China maintains its strict Covid restrictions, while the eurozone and many emerging economies are struggling under the pressure of tightening monetary policy and high inflation,” said Edward Bell, senior director of market economics at Emirates NBD.

The current Opec+ agreement on production adjustments is due to end in September and from then on, group members can adjust their output in line with their view of market conditions.

Opec+, however, did not say by how much it plans to increase production each month beyond September.

Analysts, meanwhile, expect the super group to stay together beyond and continue to co-ordinate on output levels.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank expects the target output to remain “steady until end-2022” at about the 800,000 bpd level.

“We believe that Opec+ will tread cautiously and seek a balance between easing oil supply shortages and exhausting limited global spare capacity available,” ADCB chief economist Monica Malik and economist Thirumalai Nagesh said in a report.

“Opec+ is also likely to extend the current agreement that ends in December 2022 by further to 12 months, in our view.”

Since the beginning of the Opec+ deal, oil prices have rallied more than 330 per cent, from $25 per barrel for futures at the end of April 2020 to $110 per barrel at the end of July 2022, Mr Bell said.

“The improvement in oil prices since the peak of the pandemic should help to keep Opec+ ministers committed to the effectiveness of the alliance and, for now, we see no change coming for [the alliance],” he said.

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