The Fuse

The Fuse: Live Coverage from the Vienna OPEC Summit and Meeting

by Leslie Hayward | May 31, 2015

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UPDATE: Here’s the full list of coverage from last week.


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This week’s OPEC meeting and seminar comes during a period of unprecedented changes for the global oil market. The Fuse aims to provide a fresh perspective of the events: In addition to covering the two day pre-meeting seminar and Friday’s announcement of the cartel’s decision on its official production quota, check back for video interviews with experts live from Vienna, photos, live tweets, and more.

Need a primer on OPEC? Our interview with Bob McNally, international energy market consultant and President of The Rapidan Group, covers what you need to know.

Here are a few of the questions we will be asking and exploring on the ground over the course of the week.

  1. Why is OPEC still relevant at a time when it is no longer serving as the global oil market manager? Has it passed the baton of “swing producer” to U.S. shale companies, and if so, what evidence do we have of the group’s continued importance?
  2. How will the oil market survive in this new form, without a centralized manager? What are the risks we will observe from this new paradigm? Does Saudi Arabia’s spare capacity ultimately provide a net benefit to the market?
  3. With Saudi Arabia’s spare capacity at extreme lows, will U.S. shale producers be expected to compensate in event of a major supply disruption? Are they capable of playing the traditional role of a spare capacity manager: Bringing new supplies online within 30 days and sustaining them for 90?
  4. Can U.S. shale producers play the role of swing producer when, rather than a single country using its oil production levels to achieve a suite of domestic and geopolitical goals, they are a collection of competing, non-centralized, profit seeking companies?
  5. Last November, most non-Gulf OPEC members states expressed strong criticism of Saudi Arabia’s decision not to trim production output in spite of falling oil prices. However, most observers believe the oil kingdom’s decision was ultimately the savvy move. Is Saudi Arabia, in fact, demonstrating strong leadership and stewarding the cartel through this time of increasing non-OPEC supply?
  6. The pending deal with Iran to lift international sanctions on its oil exports in return for a stalling of its nuclear program is raising fresh challenges for a cartel already beset with internal tension. What are the implications for global producers of the likely return of Iran’s oil exports to an already oversupplied oil market?
  7. What is the status of Iraq’s increasing supply? While ISIS has failed to cause an actual disruption so far, given its recent territorial gains, how long can we expect this situation to continue? If no disruption materializes, what are the implications for other oil producers if Iraq continues to increase its output?
  8. What is the status of Russia’s conversations with OPEC regarding this meeting? Was Russia interested in attempting to coordinate a cut in conjunction with OPEC, or was it also too concerned with ceding market share?
  9. Why is Indonesia, a former member, looking to re-join OPEC as an observer? Is this a demonstration of the cartel’s continued significance?

Think we missed something? Tweet your ideas to @energyfuse, or add them in the comments.