Commodity Trade Mantra

Oil Prices Drop After IEA Warns Production Freeze Is “Meaningless”

Oil Prices Drop After IEA Warns Production Freeze Is "Meaningless"

Oil Prices Drop After IEA Warns Production Freeze Is “Meaningless”

It appears The IEA has come to the same reasoning as we have been pointing out for weeks – “freezing” production at what is already the highest output levels ever is “meaninglesss.” As Reuters reports, Saudi Arabia is the only country with the ability to increase output, a senior executive from the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday. This reality check appears to have stalled crude’s exuberant run as WTI pushed below overnight API “build” lows.

As Reuters reports, a deal among some OPEC producers and Russia to freeze production is perhaps “meaningless” as Saudi Arabia is the only country with the ability to increase output, a senior executive from the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday.

Brent crude futures are up more than 50 percent from a 12-year low near $27 a barrel hit early this year, bouncing back after Russia and OPEC’s Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Qatar struck an agreement last month to keep output at January levels.

Qatar has invited all 13 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and major non-OPEC producers to Doha on April 17 for another round of talks to widen the production freeze deal.

“Amongst the group of countries (participating in the meeting) that we’re aware of, only Saudi Arabia has any ability to increase its production,” said Neil Atkinson, head of the IEA’s oil industry and markets division, at an industry event.

“So a freeze on production is perhaps rather meaningless. It’s more some kind of gesture which perhaps is aimed … to build confidence that there will be stability in oil prices.”

Libya has joined Iran in snubbing the initiative, and the absence of the two OPEC producers – both with ample room to increase output – would limit the impact of any success in broadening the freeze at the April meeting.

The rise in output from Iran in the first quarter post-sanctions has been in line with IEA’s expectation of 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), Atkinson said, adding that Tehran’s output could rise again by the same amount by the third quarter.

“Iran has not exactly been flooding the market with lots more oil. It seems to be far more measured,” Atkinson said.

So the supply side of the equation remains a drag on oil prices. Meanwhile, on the storage side, things are worse than ever…

Trading houses are betting on oil markets remaining oversupplied for at least two more years even as crude prices stage a recovery driven by early signs of falling production.

Ian Taylor, chief executive of top oil trader Vitol, said on Tuesday that “stocks of crude and products continue to build and these will weigh upon the market”.

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