Mapping Out OPEC’s Latest Moves

Sunset over Weyburn Saskatchewan, local oil. Image taken from a tripod.

By Norman T. Roule, Former National Intelligence Manager, Iran, ODNI

Roule is a geopolitical and energy consultant who served for 34 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East. As NIM-I, he was responsible for all aspects of national intelligence policy related to Iran, including IC engagement with senior policymakers in the National Security Council and the Department of State.

The OPEC conference in Vienna ended on June 22 with a Saudi-engineered defeat of Iran’s efforts to oppose any production hike.  Masked in vague language, the new OPEC agreement will put at least an additional 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), and possibly as much as one million bpd, on the market in the coming weeks.  The impact of this production will be offset by losses from Venezuela and Libya.

Since the conference, the Saudis have implied that they may be willing to increase output even further, although they are unlikely to achieve the additional two million bpd requested by President Donald Trump.  The ongoing collaboration of Saudi Arabia and (non-OPEC member) Russia, meanwhile, to increase production, signals the arrival of an oil alliance which, in today’s tight market, rivals OPEC for influence.

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