OPEC wary of 2019 surplus as stocks rebuild

Oil prices have rallied this year, with markets expecting US sanctions on Iran to hit supplies by lowering shipments from OPEC’s third-largest oil producer. (Shutterstock)
Updated 11 October 2018
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OPEC wary of 2019 surplus as stocks rebuild

  • OPEC separately updated its oil supply and demand forecasts
  • Trump has demanded that OPEC cool prices by pumping more oil

LONDON: OPEC sees the oil market as well supplied and is wary of creating a glut next year, the group’s secretary-general said on Thursday, suggesting producers are in no rush to expand a June agreement that raises output.
Oil prices have rallied this year on expectations that US sanctions on Iran will strain supplies by lowering shipments from OPEC’s third-largest oil producer. Brent crude last week reached $86.74, the highest since 2014.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, speaking at the Oil & Money conference in London, said there were many non-fundamental factors influencing the oil market that were beyond oil producers’ control.
“The market has been reacting to perceptions of a possible supply shortage. The market remains well supplied,” he told a briefing.
“The projections for 2019 clearly show a possible rebuild of stocks,” he said of the supply and demand balance for next year.
OPEC yesterday separately updated its oil supply and demand forecasts, cutting demand estimates for next year due to economic challenges such as trade disputes and volatile emerging markets, and pointing to excess supply.
One of the factors boosting prices, according to analysts and some members of OPEC, has been the decision by US President Donald Trump to reimpose sanctions on Iran.
Trump has demanded that OPEC cool prices by pumping more oil. Barkindo, asked whether Trump’s criticism of OPEC was unfair, said: “The market is currently being largely driven by decisions taken elsewhere — outside OPEC, outside non-OPEC.”
OPEC and allied producers — not including the US — agreed in June to return to 100 percent compliance with output cuts that began in January 2017, after months of underproduction in Venezuela and elsewhere pushed adherence above 160 percent.
OPEC’s report said its own production rose by 132,000 barrels per day in September to 32.76 million bpd, the highest this year, although producers have yet to increase supply enough to reach 100 percent compliance.
Barkindo, responding to a question whether producers needed to go beyond full delivery of the agreement, said they were taking it step by step.
“We have to continue to assess to see how and when we will achieve the 100 percent conformity and how the market would respond, hoping that some of these non-fundamental factors will evaporate by then,” he said.
“We remain faithful to what we agreed in June.”
OPEC and its allies hold their next meeting in December to decide policy for next year.
In the report released yesterday, OPEC cut the estimate for demand in 2019 for its own crude to 31.8 million bpd because of weaker demand and rising supplies outside the group.
Should OPEC keep pumping at September’s rate, the report points to an excess supply of almost 1 million bpd in 2019 — although this is before any sizeable reduction takes place in Iranian output.
Iran pumped 3.45 million bpd in September, according to figures in the report, down 150,000 bpd from August. Production dropped below 2.7 million bpd under previous sanctions that were lifted following the 2015 nuclear deal.
Barkindo said oil producers were worried about their levels of spare output capacity, which reduces their ability to make up for sudden supply shortages, amid a reduction in energy-industry investment.
“We are very concerned,” Barkindo said when asked about spare capacity, citing a continued decline in oil industry investment resulting from a market downturn that began in 2014.
Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer with significant spare capacity on hand to supply the market if needed.
The Kingdom will invest $20 billion over the next few years to maintain and possibly even expand its spare oil production capacity, Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said this month.


Global watchdog gives Iran until June to strengthen anti-money laundering rules

Updated 42 min 24 sec ago
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Global watchdog gives Iran until June to strengthen anti-money laundering rules

  • Iran was already given until February to complete reforms that would bring it in line with global norms, or face consequences
  • The FATF concluded this week at a meeting that ‘there are still items not completed’

PARIS: Iran has until June to strengthen its anti-money laundering legislation, or financial institutions operating there will face increased international scrutiny, a global watchdog said on Friday.
Last October, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) watchdog had already given Iran until February to complete reforms that would bring it in line with global norms, or face consequences.
The FATF concluded this week at a meeting that “there are still items not completed” and said in a statement it “expects Iran to proceed swiftly in the reform path.”
“If by June 2019, Iran does not enact the remaining legislation in line with FATF Standards, then the FATF will require increased supervisory examination for branches and subsidiaries of financial institutions based in Iran,” it said.
Foreign businesses say compliance and Iran’s removal from the FATF’s blacklist is key for making investments in the country, especially after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran.
France, Britain and Germany have tied this compliance angle with the use of a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert US sanctions.
Those countries have said they expected Iran would swiftly put into place all elements of its FATF action plan.