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Saudi Arabia’s Delicate Baku Balancing Act

OPEC (plus Russia) is meeting in Baku this weekend, and the Saudis are playing a delicate balancing act—not only disappointed in Trump’s less aggressive tactics against Iran, but also disappointed in the effects of the attack the Kingdom orchestrated against Qatar, which has managed to survive the embargo quite well and is now threatening to one-up the Saudis by getting into the US shale patch and by bumping up its already massive LNG offerings. All of this has an effect on what the Saudis end up doing to influence oil prices. They aren’t feeling particularly generous with Trump, who would like to keep oil prices low. The Saudis need about $80 a barrel to fund their economic diversification, pay for the war in Yemen and all the expensive PR that is necessary to get MBS over the very badly executed murder of a critic, journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As far as assassinations go, that was probably the most expensive one the world has ever seen. On Wednesday, WTI hit $58/barrel on shrinking US inventories, and Brent’s been hovering around $67/barrel. OPEC has never been more geopolitical than it is today, and geopolitics will figure heavily into this weekend’s meeting.

The Saudis have already announced plans to cut crude oil exports in April to below 7 million barrels per day (bpd), while keeping output well below 10 million bpd. Aramco’s oil allocations for April are 635,000 bpd below requests made by refiners and clients of Saudi crude.

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  • Tripp Mills on March 21 2019 said:
    I love seeing all of the beautiful photos and all of the leadership Saudi Arabia shows across the board in the Energy Industry as well as the United States (too bad we are killing ours and that has to stop!) Good Luck and Best Wishes in helping keep everyone supplied with Oil and Energy for the next several hundred years, thousand years (so anyone complaining about a $100 price tag on oil - imagine a dark dark lightless future!

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