OPEC and Russia are looking to solidify their cooperation on crude oil production for another decade or two, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters in an interview while on a visit to the United States.
“We are working to shift from a year-to-year agreement to a 10-20 year agreement,” the Crown Prince of OPEC’s biggest producer and de facto leader said in New York.
“We have agreement on the big picture, but not yet on the detail,” the Crown Prince said.
The idea to extend the current oil supply cooperation between OPEC and the Russia-led non-OPEC producers into a kind of permanent framework of cooperation emerged last month, after UAE’s Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said that OPEC and Russia aimed to have a plan for long-term cooperation drafted by the end of 2018 to create a ‘supergroup’ of oil producers.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that the production cut deal, currently expiring at the end of 2018, might need to extend into 2019, as the cartel and allies still have work to do to bring global oil inventories down to their five-year average.
OPEC is also said to be considering moving the goalposts on the deal.
Most proposals to change the current metric used to measure the success of the pact – the five-year average of commercial oil stocks in developed nations – would shift the inventory goal further out in time. Related: China Prepares Death Blow To The Dollar
Speaking to Reuters today, the Saudi Crown Prince also commented on the much-hyped initial public offering of Saudi oil giant Aramco, saying that the listing of 5 percent of the firm could take place at end-2018 or early in 2019, depending on the prevailing market conditions.
This is yet another hint from Saudi Arabia that the ‘second half of 2018’ deadline for the IPO is slipping, after al-Falih hinted at the beginning of March that the H2 2018 target date could slip into next year, calling the targeted period for the listing an “artificial deadline”.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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The prince’s statement not only confirms that the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut agreement is here to stay well beyond 2018 but in a format which reflects changing market conditions such as a fully re-balanced oil market and rising oil prices.
Saudi Arabia and Russia, the architects of the agreement, want to create a mechanism which is flexible enough to react quickly in the future to a tightening oil market or to a build in global oil inventories.
The objective is not only to create a permanent deficit in the global oil inventories but also to put an end to manipulations of the oil prices by the EIA through claims about rising US oil inventories. May be that explains OPEC’s curbing of crude oil exports to the United States.
As for the IPO of Saudi Aramco, I am on record saying for the last three months that Saudi Arabia will eventually withdraw the IPO altogether because it does not need it any more. Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman will soon choose the right time to announce its official withdrawal.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London