OPEC prepares to establish new output targets, oil prices are rising
Oil prices have climbed ahead of the OPEC cartel of oil-producing nations’ meeting on Thursday, as ministers prepare to establish output targets for July in their first meeting since the European Union slapped sanctions on Russian petroleum. Some members of OPEC are pressuring the organisation to eliminate Russia, the world’s third largest oil producer, from future quotas, potentially allowing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to pump more oil.
Brent crude oil futures, the North Sea benchmark, climbed 2% to $117 a barrel at one point on Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate, its North American counterpart, climbed by a comparable amount to just under $116 a barrel. Prices had dipped from highs of over $125 earlier in the week, but had rebounded as investors considered how much supply could be raised to offset the sanctions’ impact.
On Thursday, ministers from OPEC’S 13 members and ten non-Opec producers led by Russia, known as Opec+, will meet by video conference. They’re anticipated to accept a 432,000-barrel-per-day hike in July, the latest in a series of monthly increases that began in September 2021. Russia has fallen behind the rest of the group, with output predicted to fall by 8% this year. According to the Wall Street Journal, Russia’s declining production has spurred some countries, including Gulf members, to propose eliminating Russia from production targets, allowing other members to increase their output.
Oil and energy costs have risen dramatically in recent months as global economies emerge from pandemic lockdowns, exacerbated by the consequences from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As people struggle with increased fuel prices, rapid price swings have contributed to inflationary pressures and cost-of-living issues around the world.
The price hikes have prompted failed attempts by US Vice President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to persuade other major oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, to pump more, infuriating environmentalists who argue that governments should instead focus on energy efficiency measures that could quickly reduce demand. G7 energy ministers urged for higher OPEC production during a meeting last week in Germany.
The break-up of the Opec+ group, according to Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB, will allow Saudi Arabia and the UAE to employ their spare capacity to boost production. However, he questioned if it would help to relieve the pressure on global markets. He claimed that “minds in the EU and the US are concentrated on damaging Russian petro-income.” “More oil from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will allow the west to impose stricter sanctions, reducing Russian oil supplies while keeping oil prices stable.” As a result, there would be no more supply for the market overall.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on the other hand, stated on Wednesday that Russia hopes to continue working with OPEC. “The ideas of cooperation on this basis retain their meaning and relevance,” Lavrov said at a news conference in Saudi Arabia during a visit to the Middle East. Most of Russia’s important banks involved in the oil trade have been sanctioned by the US, EU, and allies such as the UK, and the EU belatedly agreed on a partial embargo on oil imports on Tuesday.
Another step to make it more difficult for Russia to export has been collaboration between the UK and the EU to prohibit insurers from insuring ships transporting Russian oil. The world’s oldest insurance market, Lloyd’s of London, announced on Wednesday that it is working closely with British and other governments and authorities to impose global sanctions on Russia.
“Lloyd’s supports and remains committed to the implementation of a global sanctions framework against Russia,” the company said. The EU embargo will not affect oil transported to Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia via the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline, and Bloomberg Economics estimates that Russia will still receive $285 billion (£226 billion) in fossil fuel exports this year, including gas, on which European countries rely heavily.