After a year suffering the economic consequences of the oil price slump, OPEC is finally on the cusp of choking off growth in U.S. crude output.
The nation’s production is almost back down to the level pumped in November, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries switched its strategy to focus on battering competitors and reclaiming market share. As the U.S. wilts, demand for OPEC’s crude will grow in 2015, ending two years of retreat, the International Energy Agency estimates.
While cratering prices and historic cutbacks in drilling have taken their toll on the U.S., OPEC members have also paid a heavy price. A year of plunging government revenues, growing budget deficits and slumping currencies has left several members grappling with severe economic problems. The fact that the U.S. oil boom kept going for about six months after the group’s November decision also means OPEC has so far succeeded only in bringing the market back to where it started.
“It’s taken a hell of a long time and it will continue to take a long time — U.S. oil production has been more resilient than people thought,” said Mike Wittner, head of oil markets research at Societe Generale SA in London. “The bottom line is the re-balancing has begun.”
OPEC abandoned its traditional role of paring production to prevent oversupply last November as a tide of new oil from the U.S. eroded its share of world markets. The group chose instead to keep pumping, allowing the subsequent price slump to squeeze competitors with higher costs. Its representatives will meet in Vienna Wednesday with non-member countries including Russia for technical talks.
Faltering U.S. supplies show the Saudi-led strategy is paying off, said Societe Generale’s Wittner. “If there are folks in the oil market who expect this is going to end with a new game plan, they’re going to be very disappointed,” he said.
Full article: OPEC is About to Crush the U.S. Oil Boom (BloombergBusiness)