Opec+ will remain proactive and pre-emptive, says Saudi minister - GulfToday

Opec+ will remain proactive and pre-emptive, says Saudi minister

A grand view of the  Saudi Aramco, one of largest companies in the world.

A grand view of the Saudi Aramco, one of largest companies in the world.

Opec and its allies have no choice but to remain proactive given the uncertainties that face the market, the Saudi Arabian oil minister said.

“The market has been subject to some extreme shocks and if it were not for the proactive approach and the pre-emptive steps that Opec+ adopted, these shocks would have created havoc in oil markets,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the Saudi Press Agency in an interview published late on Tuesday.

The minister added that the Opec+ decision to cut oil output, which was heavily criticised, turned out to be the right one for supporting the stability of the market and the industry.

Oil prices, which came close to the all-time high of $147 a barrel in March after Russia invaded Ukraine, have unwound most of their 2022 gains.

Brent crude was trading around $80 on Tuesday.

Opec and its allies, known as Opec+, have been boosting output for most of 2022 as demand recovered.

But the group on Dec. 4 agreed to stick to an October plan to cut output by 2 million barrels per day (bpd) from November through 2023.

“Playing politics with statistics and forecasting and not maintaining objectivity often tend to backfire and result in loss of credibility,” the energy minister said.

In the face of a wide range of uncertainties, Opec+ has no choice but to remain pro-active and pre-emptive, he said.

Oil prices rose by more than 2% on Wednesday after data suggested a larger than expected draw in U.S. crude stockpiles, but gains were capped by growing concerns over demand in China and a snow storm that is expected to hit U.S. travel.

Brent crude futures were up by $1.62, or 2.03%, at $81.61 a barrel by 1440 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained $1.54, or 2.02%, to $77.77.

US crude inventories fell by about 3.1 million barrels in the week to Dec. 16, said market sources, citing data from the American Petroleum Institute. Nine analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a drop of 1.7 million barrels. Official government data is due at 1530 GMT.

Prices were also boosted by comments from Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, who said on Tuesday that the heavily criticised move by Opec+ to cut oil output turned out to be the right decision.

The comments suggest that Opec+ may continue to keep supply tight, said CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng. Potentially curtailing oil demand, huge parts of the United States are forecast to face heavy snow that is likely to cause flight delays and impassable roads during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Further pressure came as the 622,000 barrel per day Keystone pipeline, which carries oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois, opened at reduced capacity on Wednesday. The pipeline was shut after it spilled oil in rural Texas.

Worries about surging COVID-19 cases in China as the country begins dismantling its zero-COVID policy also kept oil prices from moving higher.

However, China’s crude oil imports from Russia in November rose 17% year on year as Chinese refiners rushed to secure more cargoes ahead of a price cap imposed by the Group of Seven nations and an EU embargo from Dec. 5.

Overall, Russian oil exports fell by 11% month on month for Dec. 1-20 after the European Union’s embargo on Russian oil came into force, the Kommersant daily reported.

Meanwhile, stocks are opening higher on Wall Street but remain mostly lower for the week as investors continue to worry that a recession is on the way. The S&P 500 index was up 0.7% in the early going Wednesday but is still slightly negative for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1% with a lot of help from Nike, which soared 15% after reporting results for its latest quarter that trounced analysts’ estimates. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 0.4%. Treasury yields were a bit lower. European markets were higher and Asian markets closed mixed overnight. Oil prices rose.

Wall Street pointed higher in premarket trading Wednesday, extending small gains from the day before that snapped a four-day losing streak.

The future for the S&P 500 advanced 0.7% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked 0.9% higher.

Nike jumped 11% in before the opening bell after posting better-than-expected second quarter sales and profits.

There is new data coming out Wednesday on home sales, as well as the Conference Board’s consumer confidence report for December. Home sales have declined for nine straight months as interest rates doubled over the past year. Inflation, rising interest rates and major layoffs in the tech sector sent consumer confidence in November to its lowest level since July.

Markets have taken a beating in 2022 as the Federal Reserve has raised its key borrowing rate seven times this year in an effort to cool the economy and extinguish four-decade high inflation. Many economists fear the Fed’s aggressive fight against inflation - which the central bank has said will continue into 2023 - will result in a recession.

On Tuesday, markets turned their attention to Japan, where its central bank in a surprise move expanded the cap yield of the 10-year Japanese government bond to 0.50%, from 0.25%.

The Bank of Japan has kept its key lending rate at minus 0.1% for years, trying to spur growth by keeping credit ultra cheap. It was the last holdout among major, industrialized economies to raise rates and it rattled world markets Tuesday, with bond yields pushing higher.


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