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Andy Tully

Andy Tully

Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com

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If Prices Keep Falling, OPEC Must Act To Restore ‘Fair’ Rate Of $70-$80

The consensus among many Arab OPEC producers is that, one way or another, the worldwide price of oil will stabilize then rise again during 2015, settling between $70 and $80 per barrel by the end of the year, probably without intervention from the cartel’s leadership.

Reuters interviewed several OPEC representatives during the week ending Dec. 28, some from what it called “core [Persian] Gulf” oil countries, who said a return to stronger global economic growth should increase demand for oil, particularly in China and Europe.

“‎The general thinking is that prices can’t collapse, prices can touch $60 or a bit lower for some months then come back to an acceptable level which is $80 a barrel, but probably after eight months to a year," one Gulf oil source told the news service.

Related: Did The Saudis And The US Collude In Dropping Oil Prices?

A separate Gulf OPEC source told Reuters, “We have to wait and see. We don’t see $100 for next year unless there is a sudden supply disruption. But average of $70 to $80 dollars for next year – yes.”

Nor do any of these delegates want a return to oil averaging $100 a barrel very soon. They say that would only turn this year’s precipitous drop in oil prices into a boom-and-bust cycle by encouraging excessive oil production by high-cost non-OPEC producers such as those in North America, who lately have been relying on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for their oil boom.

Instead, these Arab OPEC members see prices settling at a “fair” price around $10 or $20 per barrel above the current rate, which has been hovering around $60 per barrel. Many observers believe that shale oil extracted through fracking isn’t profitable at such a low price.

They also say this “fair” price can be reached without emergency action by OPEC. The cartel’s next meeting to discuss, and perhaps set, new production levels isn’t scheduled until June 5, 2015, and its secretary -general, Abdullah al-Badri, says there are no plans for any action before then.

Yet there is a possibility that OPEC eventually may have to intervene if the global price of oil remains stubbornly around $60 per barrel or falls further, said Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, one OPEC representative who allowed his name to be used in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“If prices keep falling to very low levels where the whole equation is not balanced, then definitely OPEC has to step in,” Abdul Mahdi said. But he said nothing about OPEC remedying the problem through production cuts, which Iran, along with Venezuela, have been calling for in vain.

Related: OPEC Ministers Decry Price War Conspiracy Theories

That plea has been ignored by the influential Gulf OPEC members who are rich enough to withstand a finite period of lower oil revenues and were behind the cartel’s decision on Nov. 27 to keep production levels at 30 million barrels a day.

Influential OPEC leaders such as Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi have since argued that the reason for maintaining the production level was to recoup market share lost to high-cost or “inefficient” non-OPEC oil producers such as American frackers or Russians, making oil production unprofitable for them.

Despite Iraq’s previous outspokenness on cutting production, it now appears to have accepted OPEC’s strategy. Abdul Mahdi told Bloomberg that the Saudi strategy eventually “made sense to all of us,” And on Dec. 23, the Iraqi cabinet approved a budget for 2015 predicated on oil priced at $60 per barrel.

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Harry on December 28 2014 said:
    Fair rate of 70-80? WHO are you kidding? Fair for who? Those who have already made billions while the rest of the country has suffered? NOT ALL of us has forgotten where prices were prior to Katrina. TO even suggest 70-80 is fair is beyond words. Try 45-55.
  • Alan on December 29 2014 said:
    OPEC have been ripping the West off for decades, I agree with Harry, $40 is fair.
  • Fatfarmer on December 30 2014 said:
    How about getting the price of oil cheap enough so gas is less than $1 per gallon. That will stimulate our economy more than the trillions that the Fed have spent.
  • Glenn on December 30 2014 said:
    Remember how fair they wanted to be in 1972/73
    during the oil embargo.
    Drill baby Drill America first
  • Kelly on January 02 2015 said:
    These guys will get their asses handed to them when oil hits 25 which it will. Speculation in oil trading is the problem it's caused large amounts of volatility in the oil markets. If oil was only traded by consumers and producers it would be around 40-50 a barrel.
  • Howard on January 04 2015 said:
    Too bad you humans don't use sustainable energy that doesn't cause cancers and destroy the environment. But no money in sustainability. Genocide on a global level. Because using petroleum based plastic is such a better and healthier choice opposed to something like hemp based plastics.

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