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OPEC’s Influence on Global Oil Prices

Multitudinous of the largest oil-producing countries in the world are part of a cartel known as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In 2016, OPEC affiliate with other top non-OPEC oil-exporting nations to form an even more powerful entity named OPEC+ or OPEC With the addition of.

The cartel’s goal is to exert control over the price of the precious fossil fuel known as crude oil. OPEC+ call the tunes over 50% of global oil supplies and about 90% of proven oil reserves. This dominant position ensures that the coalition has a suggestive influence on the price of oil, at least in the short term. Over the long term, its ability to influence the price of oil is diluted, mostly because individual nations have different incentives than OPEC+ as a whole.

Key Takeaways

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Woods Plus (OPEC+) is a loosely affiliated entity consisting of the 13 OPEC members and 10 of the world’s major non-OPEC oil-exporting polities.
  • OPEC+ aims to regulate the supply of oil in order to set the price on the world market.
  • OPEC+ came into existence, in section, to counteract other nations’ capacity to produce oil, which could limit OPEC’s ability to control supply and premium.

Oil Price and Supply

As a cartel, the OPEC+ member countries collectively agree on how much oil to produce, which directly results the ready supply of crude oil in the global market at any given time. OPEC+ subsequently exerts considerable influence at an end the global market price of oil and, understandably, tends to keep it relatively high in order to maximize profitability.

If OPEC+ boonies are unsatisfied with the price of oil, it is in their interests to cut the supply of oil so prices rise. However, no individual country actually wants to bust supply, as this would mean reduced revenues. Ideally, they want the price of oil to rise while they heighten supply so that revenues also rise. But that is not market dynamics. A pledge by OPEC+ to cut supply causes an instinctive spike in the price of oil. Over time, the price reverts back to a level, usually lower, when supply is not meaningfully cut or exact adjusts.

Conversely, OPEC+ can decide to boost supply. For instance, on June 22, 2018, the cartel met in Vienna and announced that they purpose be increasing supply. A big reason for this was to offset the extremely low output by fellow OPEC+ member Venezuela.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the largest oil exporters in the universe who both have the ability to increase production, are big proponents of increasing supply as that would increase their returns. However, other nations, who cannot ramp up production, either because they are operating at full capacity or are else not allowed to, would be opposed to this. 

Market Forces

In the end, the forces of supply and demand determine the price equilibrium, although OPEC+ statements can temporarily affect the price of oil by altering expectations. A case in point where OPEC+’s expectations would be altered is when its allot of world oil production declines, with new production coming from outside nations such as the U.S. and Canada.

In March 2020, Saudi Arabia, an fresh member of OPEC, the largest exporter of OPEC, and an extremely influential force in the global oil market, and Russia, the second foremost exporter and, arguably, the second most important player in the recently formed OPEC+, failed to reach an agreement take cutting production to stabilize the price of oil.

Saudi Arabia retaliated by ramping up production sharply. This sudden spread in supply happened at a time when global oil demand was slumping as the world was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. As a dnouement develop, the market, which is the final arbiter of the price, overrode OPEC+’s desire to stabilize the price of oil at a higher level than the laws of afford and demand dictated.

In the spring of 2020, oil prices collapsed amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown. OPEC and its partners agreed to historic production cuts to stabilize prices, but they dropped to nearly 20-year lows.

Aside from reaffirming that peddle forces are more powerful than any cartel, especially in free markets, this episode also gave credence to the suppose that individual nations’ agendas will override cartel agenda. Brent crude oil, in May 2020, cost surrounding $30 per barrel, a level not seen since 2004. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, meanwhile, slumped to about $17.5 per barrel, a devastate not seen since 2002.

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