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On 8 March 2020, Saudi Arabia initiated an oil price war with Russia, triggering a rout in the oil market at a time where the world is facing a pandemic and many countries forced to shut down their activities and borders. Crude oil prices have lost nearly half of their prices, battled by a simultaneous demand and supply shock.
Last Thursday, President Trump tweeted about expectations of substantial production cuts, which has lifted hopes that OPEC and its allies will intervene to bring some stability in the oil and gas industry.
President Trump’s actions resulted in an emergency OPEC meeting which was initially scheduled to take place on Monday. Over the weekend, the rift seemed to have widened as Russia dragged Saudi Arabia into the hostilities against the US Shale oil industry. The blame game has caused the meeting to be postponed which is “likely” going to take place on Thursday.
Unprecedented measures are needed to tackle an unprecedented crisis. Are we going to see an alliance of oil producers other than OPEC+?
A supply glut and weak demand have sent prices into a freefall, which is prompting growing calls of a multilateral commitment of oil producers to regularise the oil market. Among all the noises currently in the oil industry, traders need to pay particular attention to key factors:
Russia and Saudi Arabia
Market participants will need to monitor whether Russia and Saudi Arabia are willing to look passed the blame game and go back to the negotiable table. The first calming factor will be that both oil producers are able to resolve their differences and start a dialogue to cut oil production.
The US to Join Efforts
It is clear that for the interest of all producers, the efforts should not only come from OPEC+ members. Ever since the US President tweeted about the hopes of a truce between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the US has been under increased pressure to join global forces in cutting production amid crashing oil prices.
The US Energy Information Administration slashed its expectations for US crude oil production by more than 1 million barrels – a day ahead of the much-awaited meeting. Despite the projected cuts by the EIA, the US is still expected to formally commit to production cuts. It appears to be the decisive factor that will restore peace in the industry.
It is reported that the G20 group of leading world economies will meet on Friday to host an emergency meeting with energy ministers. The aim of the meeting will focus on bringing nations together in an effort to stablilise the world energy markets.
The OPEC meeting followed by the G20 meeting could be a turning point for the oil and gas industry. Global efforts by OPEC+ members along with other key members, including the US, Canada and Brazil, among others, are key in bringing back confidence at a time where the oil market is facing the brunt of a pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has delayed setting May delivery prices of oil in anticipation that the meeting will end in a net positive. As of writing, we note that President Trump stated that he was not asked to participate in cutting production but “may” consider such a scenario if it would help to resolve the international disputes.
As the week comes to an end, attention will remain fixated on the upcoming meetings and any developments that will help investors to gauge the thinking of oil producers.
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