When producers that are inherently prone to conflict and resource nationalism lose supply, output will most likely not return to previous levels.
Libyan Oi Minister Mustafa Sanalla has facilitated a five-fold increase in oil production over the last year from a low of 200 thousand barrels/day last summer to 1.1 million b/d in recent weeks, despite prevailing chaos and rival governments.
OPEC’s gamble to cut production to shore up prices has not worked out the way members thought it would, but the cartel cannot be faulted for not trying. The inadequacy of its policy in the first part of 2017 means that OPEC will do whatever it takes during the second half of the year to achieve its goals.
In the aftermath of the 2014 price fall, producer countries have had to reevaluate policy and economic strategy while contending with a persistent glut that may dampen prices for some time, further undermine their budgets, and possibly cause domestic strife.
In combination with robust U.S. shale oil production, the wild cards of Libya, Nigeria, and Iraq could force OPEC and its allies to go back to the drawing board.
Nothing will change materially in the oil market until there’s a significant stock draw, a development that appears doubtful, which could ultimately force OPEC to change strategy once again.
There are already signs that OPEC is committed to following through with pledges, even if indicators are contradictory and vague at the moment. The oil market has stabilized in the low-to-mid $50s, indicating the group has indeed put a floor under prices for the time being.
Renewed political turmoil and the takeover of major oil terminals last month didn't stop Libyan oil production from tripling since August. How long will it last?
OPEC is expected to finalize the details of its production cut next month, but in the meantime, the entire arrangement looks like a mess, with hole after hole being punctured before it’s even been fully agreed upon and implemented.
OPEC's past cuts were successful in tightening the global oil market and lifting prices, but the agreement last week in Algiers may not be sufficient to rebalance fundamentals, particularly since U.S. shale is poised to rebound.