Despite weak oil prices, Opec still pockets more dollars

 28 Jun 2017 - 23:00

Despite weak oil prices, Opec still pockets more dollars

By Alex Lawler / Reuters

With world oil inventories swelling despite a global pact on cutting output and crude prices falling by a fifth in the past month, Opec appears to be losing its battle to balance the market.
But there is one crucial fight the oil-exporting group has been winning so far: its members have earned more money this year than last and the prospect of higher revenues is likely to motivate Opec to stick with output cuts or even deepen them.
Opec’s first output cut in eight years has earned the group $1.64bn a day so far this year, up more than 10 percent from the second half of 2016, according to Reuters calculations based on Opec figures for average production and its crude basket price up until June 20.
Compared with the first half of 2016, when oil prices sank to a 12-year low near $27 a barrel, the increase in income is a dramatic 43 percent, even though production by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) was little changed.
Income could rise in the rest of the year if, as Opec hopes, a supply glut is banished. Opec plus Russia and other non-Opec producers agreed on May 25 to extend supply cuts to March, after an initial deal to keep them in place for the first half of 2017.
“I expect the gains for Opec to be higher during the second semester 2017 due to a tight market in the third and fourth quarter, despite an oversupply from non-Opec not tied to the Opec agreement and higher-than-expected production from Libya and Nigeria,” said Chakib Khelil, Algeria’s former oil minister.
He estimated Opec revenues rose about 8 percent in the first half of 2017, following its move at the end of 2016 to cut overall output by about 4 percent.
“The overall gain in revenues for Opec would be in the 9 to 10 percent range for the whole of 2017 compared to 2016,” the former minister said. Opec’s decision in late 2016 to return to a policy of limiting supply, in cooperation with Russia and other non-members, marked the end of a two-year period in which the group pumped at will in a Saudi-led shift to curb rival output and boost market share, which accelerated a drop in prices.
“I think the extent to which Saudi Arabia bled revenue during 2014-2016 forced them back to the Opec table before the job of really turning the screw on US shale and other non-Opec supply was completed,” said David Fyfe, chief economist at trading firm Gunvor.
“However, the production deal has at least staunched the cash hemorrhage for now,” he said.
The Reuters calculation is based on data from the
International Energy Agency and figures published by Opec about its production according to estimates by six secondary sources.
For the price, Reuters used the Opec basket, an index of the crudes sold by the member countries. It is intended to illustrate the general trend for oil revenues and does not aim to give exact estimates of countries’ oil export earnings.