Oil prices limped higher overnight as desperate jawboning of OPEC production cut deal extensions by the Saudis supported a recovery from yesterday's post-inventories plunge. However, confirming the market's lack of faith in OPEC (and Saudi's ability to hold the deal together), WTI prices are sliding back towards a $50 handle as jawboning half-lives slump.
As The FT reports, oil producers are moving closer towards agreement on extending the Opec-led deal to limit output, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Thursday, as the cartel battles excess stockpiles and a resurgent US shale industry that have weighed on prices. Khalid al-Falih said the deal could be run for another three to six months beyond the end of June. Under the terms of the existing accord, Opec members and countries outside the cartel, including Russia, agreed to cut their output by about 1.8m barrels a day throughout the first half of 2017. A preliminary agreement to extend the deal had been reached by most, but not all, producers, he said.
“Consensus is building, but it is not done yet,” Mr Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an energy industry event in Abu Dhabi. “We are still in consultations.”
But the market is not buying it...
Noitably, as Bloomberg reports, when OPEC and Russia meet next month to assess the impact of their oil cuts they face a surprising outcome: stockpiles are even higher than when they started. Inventories have started to decline, but by the time ministers gather in Vienna on May 25, developed nations still won’t have burned through the big stockpile increase caused by a surge in OPEC output just before the cuts came into force, data from the International Energy Agency indicate. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has been “hoisted by its own petard” by agreeing in principle to reduce production last September while allowing members to keep boosting sales until the deal took effect on Jan. 1, Citigroup Inc. said. While the group has fully implemented its pledged cuts, that’s being offset by U.S. shale oil producers buoyed by price gains, according to Commerzbank AG.
“Producers unintentionally accelerated activities that would ultimately obstruct, and for a period reverse, the very rebalancing they were trying to accelerate,” said Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Citigroup.
“OPEC is like a magician waving his hands and trying to pull the rabbit out the hat, but still the rabbit isn’t there,” said Eugen Weinberg, Commerzbank’s head of commodities research in Frankfurt. “They’ve done all they can with the production cuts and the effect is close to non-existent.”