In what appears to be a Doha party-pooping statement, Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman stated unequivocally that The Kingdom won’t restrain its oil production unless other producers, including Iran, agree to freeze output at a meeting this weekend in Doha. This a major problem because – if you remember – this week’s melt-up in oil (and thus stocks) was predicated on an anonymous diplomat cited by Interfax saying a deal will get done without Iran (which the Russians refused to confirm). All that hope crushed by a reality that has been painfully obvious that no side will be given in the Iran-Saudi tete-a-tete… and now, as Citi warned “expect a sharp sell-off.”
As Bloomberg reports, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter would cap its market share at about 10.3 million to 10.4 million barrels a day, if producers agree to the freeze, Prince Mohammed bin Salman said during an interview on Thursday at King Salman’s private farm in Diriyah, the original home of the Al Saud royal family.
“If all major producers don’t freeze production, we will not freeze production,” said Prince Mohammed, 30, who has emerged as Saudi Arabia’s leading economic force.
Adding – rather pointedly that…
“If we don’t freeze, then we will sell at any opportunity we get.”
“If prices went up to $60 or $70, that would be a strong factor to push forward the wheel of development,” Prince Mohammed said. “But this battle is not my battle. It’s the battle of others who are suffering from low oil prices.”
Prince Mohammed also said that Saudi Arabia isn’t concerned because “we have our own programs that don’t need high oil prices.”
Simply put, “no deal,” given Iran is sending a junior minister in a clear message that it will do nothing.
It seems more than a few people “knew” nothing would come of this and that the epic squeeze-fest early this week was all false…
As Citi warned earlier,
If there is no agreement, then expect a sharp oil market sell-off on Monday. If there is an agreement in name but market participants realize it has no teeth, except a slower sell-off. Main oil-producing countries, but especially Russia, have been stirring the market since late 2015 with talks of a potential agreement and the market has responded frequently, creating periodic froth to prices, only to see prices come off when no agreement has been forthcoming.
Money manager net (and gross) length is around record highs on ICE Brent, giving some scope for position liquidation following any ‘disappointing’ headlines and adding to downside risk.
At this rate we may not even get a “gentlemen’s agreement” over efforts to freeze production… and Sunday night will be a bloodbath!
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