(Reuters) - The world’s largest oil exporters agreed on Wednesday to cut output for the first time in eight years to erode a global supply overhang that has persisted for two years and halved the value of a barrel of crude.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it would agree to limit crude oil output to a maximum of 32.5 million barrels per day (bpd) starting Jan. 1 for six months.
The cut was at the low end of production of a preliminary agreement struck in Algiers in September, and reduces production from a current 33.64 million bpd.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer, has agreed to bear the lion’s share of the cuts, but most member countries, including Iraq, which had initially refused to freeze its output, will limit their production.
Iran, Libya and Nigeria were all given special dispensation not to join in with the reduction, as the three are still fighting to boost their exports and regain market share lost to international sanctions, or civil unrest and violence.
Mohammed al-Sada, the Energy Minister for Qatar, and current OPEC President, said key non-OPEC members had agreed to cuts of 600,000 bpd, of which Russia had committed to 300,000 bpd.
OPEC members on Dec. 9 will meet its non-cartel counterparts to discuss their contribution to the effort to limit output.
Oil soared more than 10 percent to over $50 a barrel and its highest in a month, as investors prepared for the possibility that lower OPEC output would lead to a swifter rebalancing between global crude supply and demand. [O/R]
The following are analyst comments on the OPEC announcement:
”OPEC usually does not reach its production goals; compliance with agreements is never perfect - far from it. We expect actual OPEC crude output to average 33.0 Mb/d (million bpd) by February or March, for an actual cut of 0.7 Mb/d. This is 0.5 Mb/d higher than OPEC’s target of 32.5 Mb/d. In other words, we expect non-compliance to be 0.5 Mb/d, which is broadly in line with historical figures, in percentage terms.
“We do expect another agreement in May. OPEC will assess the market at that time, both fundamentals and prices. We are expecting somewhat higher output in the second half of next year, either formally in an adjusted target, or informally via lower compliance. Global demand is always significantly higher in the second half, an important seasonal pattern.”
”The cuts will go a long way toward accelerating the drawdown in global inventories of oil in 2017.
“In the short term, we expect prices to break new highs for the year (~ $53/barrel). However, how the U.S. shale oil industry reacts will dictate whether prices can be sustained above $60/bbl in 2017.”
”While the inclusion of non-OPEC producers makes this a bigger headline cut than was announced in Algiers, we believe that the catalysts for a further rally in prices will need to come from confirmation of participation by non-OPEC producers, evidence of compliance by OPEC producers and more clarity on what Iran has agreed to do given conflicting numbers in the official agreement.
“We reiterate our view that this is a short duration cut, targeting excess inventories and not high oil prices, which would instead unleash a sharp production response both in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.”
“The OPEC agreement meets or beats the criteria we were looking for in terms of size, tenor and quality. Winners include (1) OPEC members in the short term; (2) U.S. E&Ps; (3) simple refiners, and (4) the petrochemical sector. Losers include (1) over the (short term), complex refiners and (2) U.S. natural gas prices given a likely resumption of meaningful associated gas growth. The rally in drillers and offshore is a false positive in our view and has created a good selling opportunity.”
ANDY BROGAN, GLOBAL OIL & GAS TRANSACTIONS LEADER, E&Y:“OPEC’s decision to set up an independent governance committee shows a new focus on discipline. That approach gives me more confidence that we’ll see OPEC members abide by the agreement made today. We won’t know the real impact on the market until those production cuts are made, however. Until then, as with decisions made at past meetings, we expect to see short-term market gyration.”
”The OPEC communique specifies the cuts per country. This was very positive for the oil price and makes the agreement strong. There will be a monitoring committee that will follow up on the promised cuts by country. This was also very positive. The deal was also made stronger by the OPEC president’s statement that secondary sources will be used to monitor the cuts. This means the published numbers will be more trustworthy.
“If demand is weak and even falling, you do not give away market share to others, like you would do when the root cause for the price weakness instead is coming from the supply side, which is the story now. This is why we think compliance might be weaker this time than in 2001-02 and in 2008-09.”
”They’ve come up with an agreement with which their political credibility has been maintained and they’ve come up with a number. The question is the degree of compliance.
“The question that was avoided was to what extent is OPEC’s commitment to cut dependent on the ... 600,000 bpd (of cuts) from non-OPEC. We remain rather cautious over whether this is a cut from current levels for a cut from proposed levels for 2017 and, as a consequence, would not be real cuts.”
PAUL HORSNELL, HEAD OF COMMODITIES RESEARCH, STANDARD CHARTERED:
”If you compare it with the case of if there hadn’t been an agreement, quite clearly, it’s probably at the upper end of the expectations of what was going to be possible at this particular meeting. And all in all, one of OPEC’s better days.
“It doesn’t say (the cuts are) contingent on non-OPEC. It says it’s reached an understanding with key non-OPEC producers, but clearly what’s involved in there is non-OPEC is supposed to do its bit. It’s in nobody’s interest here to be seen as collapsing this ... For what it is at the moment, it looks pretty credible.”
”OPEC says all of the members have taken Indonesia’s level upon themselves but they haven‘t. Does that mean the effective cut is 700,000 bpd? If you look at the numbers, are they adding up? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.
”We haven’t heard from the non-OPEC members and we don’t know where the other 300,000 bpd will come from (aside from the 300,000 bpd which OPEC says Russia has committed to). It’s a little bit strange for us.
“The last two years have been full of atypical meetings but this one was unusual. They basically talked themselves into a corner; everyone started saying OPEC will cease to be a viable organization if they don’t say anything, so they had to say something, but it’s unclear what it means.”
“It’s clear that OPEC is speaking with one voice. Non-OPEC is not very important anymore ... If the OPEC cuts are implemented, it means there will be a deficit in early 2017 as the call on OPEC oil is 33.1 million barrels per day, according to the IEA.”
”The price of oil has surged today as OPEC finally acted to reduce production, implementing its first cut in eight years. However, while prices may climb further in the very near term, we expect any gains will be short-lived, with U.S. production likely to ramp up to exploit higher prices.
“Put simply, OPEC has not solved the supply glut, and indeed this merely shows how much Saudi Arabia’s position has weakened when it comes to its role as the price maker in oil markets. With a more stable supply side situation now the norm thanks to U.S. shale production, any further upside for the oil price from current levels is unlikely to be sustainable, but that does not mean there will not be a spike in volatility around the price.”
“As expected, OPEC is also very keen for non-OPEC members to make a contribution of a 600,000 barrel reduction for the benefit of the oil industry. This is something that has to be respected and hopefully adhered to by the non-members as it is for the largest benefit of all - something which cannot be burdened just on OPEC. We expect oil prices to be on course toward $55 very soon which has been our forecast for end-2016 since February when it was trading at $28 per barrel.”
ANTHONY STARKEY, MANAGER ENERGY ANALYSIS, PLATTS ANALYTICS:
“This is a drastic shift in policy for OPEC, whose key members have argued about retaining market share being more important than supporting higher oil prices. This cut is obviously going to reduce their percentage of global market share relative to non-OPEC, especially when you shift Indonesia from the OPEC column to the non-OPEC column.”
ROB THUMMEL, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND PORTFOLIO MANAGER, TORTOISE CAPITAL:
“We feel OPEC’s announcement sets the table for the energy sector bringing stability to oil prices, and OPEC is relevant again, but its compliance with the new stated production quota is key to bringing global inventory levels back in-line with historical levels. Despite OPEC’s production cut, OPEC’s spare capacity remains tight; therefore, low cost U.S. oil production is expected to be a critical supplier as future demand for crude oil rises.”
“This deal won’t solve the global oil glut in the very short term. And there are still quite a few wild cards that might trigger the cancellation of this deal at any time - including Russia and other non-OPEC countries as well as the necessity for specific measures that would monitor and guarantee the production cuts.”
Reporting by Julia Payne, Sabina Zawadzki, Veronica Brown and Amanda Cooper in London and Bengaluru Commodities desk; editing by Jane Merriman, Lisa Shumaker and G Crosse