Oil: the fall in prices worries OPEC

Installed three years around $ 100 a barrel, crude prices plunged almost continuously since mid-June.

OPEC held on Thursday in Vienna’s most important meeting for years, jostled by the oil price fall that stirs up divisions within it, between supporters of a decline in production and the status quo defenders. While they seemed firmly ensconced in three years around $ 100 a barrel despite geopolitical turmoil, crude prices have plunged almost continuously since mid-June under the combined effect of soaring extraction shale oil to the United States and slowing global growth. The price of Brent crude in London, the main barometer of the oil market has dropped to 77.92 dollars on Nov. 13, a 32% tumble in five months.

If the levels at the pump for consumers remain high (especially in France , where taxes partially mask the fall) is the most violent decline in the sector since the cataclysm of 2008, when oil was collapsed after record highs close to 150 dollars a barrel. What tender discussions between ministers of the 12 states of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which will meet in the Austrian capital to review their collective production ceiling, fixed for three years at 30 million barrels per day , nearly a third of the crude oil extracted daily in the world. Because this fall weighs heavily on the budget revenue of its members, and some openly pushing the cartel to take action by reducing its production, hoping to stabilize and even recover, the price of crude.

Starting with the Venezuela , with very fragile finances and thus ultra-dependent on oil revenues. In an alarmist Monday, President Nicolás Maduro referred to the holding of “a special meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC countries very soon to make decisions for oil and oil prices.” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, also campaigned for measures to stop the movement. “It’s hard to go back to previous prices, but we must try to improve the course as much as possible taking into account the new market situation,” he summed up, after a meeting with Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafael Ramirez. Outside OPEC, another major exporter, Russia, said Friday he was working on a possible decline in production. But Saudi Arabia, leader of the cartel which it alone ensures a third of the production and champion of the status quo in recent years, seems to remain deaf to these concerns.

“War for market share”

Many observers suspect her of encouraging underhand falling prices having reduced some of the prices at which it exports its products to impede US production of black gold, which requires higher prices to be profitable . Others see evidence of a “war for market share” that would engage members of OPEC in the wings. Maneuvers which defended the powerful Saudi Minister Ali al-Nouaimi. After months of silence, he recently rejected this theory of a “price war” Oil and described as “grotesque and inaccurate speculation” any idea of ​​the kingdom change in strategy. Without saying exactly what position would advocate Saudi Vienna.

In these circumstances, the uncertainty is at its peak before the Thursday meeting. The question is whether or not Saudi yield to calls to lower the quota. The forecasts are very open, even if the status quo, failing consensus seems the most likely outcome. Mohammed al-Sabban Suroor, who was until 2013 a former advisor of the Saudi oil ministry, has predicted a confirmation of the existing ceiling, while admitting that the meeting was “more difficult” for a long time for OPEC. And even if OPEC lowered its quota, “it is not certain that its production will drop (it) effectively”, the ceiling often not being respected, advanced Tim Pugh, the firm Capital Economics. According to analysts at Commerzbank, “the minimum consensus seems most likely at the meeting is a commitment (members) to better meet the 30 million bpd ceiling.”

The Stopru