OPEC output hits new low on Trump’s sanctions, supply pact

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih talks to journalists at the beginning of an OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria, on July 1, 2019. (REUTERS/File Photo)
Updated 06 July 2019
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OPEC output hits new low on Trump’s sanctions, supply pact

  • Saudi Arabia is still voluntarily pumping less than an OPEC-led supply deal allows it to

LONDON: OPEC oil output sank to a new five-year low in June as a rise in Saudi supply did not offset losses in Iran and Venezuela due to US sanctions and other outages elsewhere in the group, a Reuters survey found.

OPEC pumped 29.60 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, the survey showed, down 170,000 bpd from May’s revised figure and the lowest OPEC total since 2014, the survey showed.

The Reuters survey suggests that even though Saudi Arabia is raising output following pressure from US President Donald Trump to bring down prices, the Kingdom is still voluntarily pumping less than an OPEC-led supply deal allows it to. OPEC renewed the supply pact at meetings this week.

Despite lower supplies, crude oil has fallen from a six-month high above $75 a barrel in April to below $63 on Friday, pressured by concern about slowing economic growth. “The decision of OPEC+ at the beginning of the week to extend its production cuts has done nothing to change this,” Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank, said of this week’s drop in prices. “A series of disappointing economic data from the United States, China and Europe has sparked new concerns about demand.”

OPEC, Russia and other non-members, known as OPEC+, agreed in December to reduce supply by 1.2 million bpd from Jan. 1 this year. OPEC’s share of the cut is 800,000 bpd, to be delivered by 11 members — all except Iran, Libya and Venezuela. The producers at meetings this week in Vienna extended the deal until March 2020.

In June, OPEC members bound by the agreement achieved 156 percent of pledged cuts, the survey found, more than in May, due to lower production in Iraq, Kuwait and Angola. All three of the exempt producers also pumped less oil.

The US reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers. Aiming to cut Iran’s sales to zero, Washington this month ended sanctions waivers for importers of Iranian oil.

Iran’s crude exports have declined to less than 400,000 bpd from more than 2.5 million bpd in April 2018.

In Venezuela, supply fell slightly in June due to the impact of US sanctions on state oil company PDVSA and a long-term decline in production, according to the survey.

Among countries pumping more, Saudi Arabia boosted supply by 100,000 bpd to 9.8 million bpd from May’s revised figure, the survey found. This is still below its OPEC quota of 10.311 bpd.

Output also rose in Nigeria, which last month overproduced its target by the largest margin.

June output was the lowest by OPEC since April 2014, excluding membership changes that have taken place since then, Reuters surveys show.

The Reuters survey aims to track supply to the market and is based on shipping data provided by external sources, Refinitiv Eikon flows data and information provided by sources at oil companies, OPEC and consulting firms. 


BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

Oliver Zipse
Updated 20 July 2019
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BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

  • German giant has lost ground to Mercedes-Benz and Tesla as tech steps up

FRANKFURT: BMW has named Oliver Zipse as its new CEO, continuing the German carmaker’s tradition of promoting production chiefs to the top job even as the auto industry expands into new areas such as technology and services.
Hailing Zipse’s “decisive” leadership style, BMW hopes the 55-year-old can help it win back its edge in electric cars and the premium market  from rival Mercedes-Benz.
But some analysts questioned whether Zipse was the right choice with new fields such as software and services like car-sharing becoming increasingly important.
“What is intriguing is the cultural bias to appoint the head of production. It works sometimes but ... being good at building cars is not a defining edge the way it was 20 years ago,” said Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois.
Current CEO Harald Krueger, and former chiefs Norbert Reithofer, Bernd Pischetsrieder and Joachim Milberg were all former production heads.
Zipse joined BMW as a trainee in 1991 and served as head of brand and product strategies and boss of BMW’s Oxford plant in England before joining the board.
He will become chief executive on Aug. 16, taking over from Krueger who said he would not be available for a second term.
“With Oliver Zipse, a decisive strategic and analytical leader will assume the Chair of the Board of Management of BMW. He will provide fresh momentum in shaping  the future,” said Reithofer.
Zipse helped expand BMW’s efficient production network in Hungary, China and the US, in a move that delivered industry-leading profit margins.
Under Krueger, BMW was overtaken in 2016 by Mercedes-Benz as the best-selling luxury car brand.
It also had an early lead over US  rival Tesla in electric cars, but scaled back ambitions after its i3 model failed to sell large numbers.
Reithofer initially championed Krueger’s low-key consensus-seeking leadership, but pressured him to roll out electric vehicles more aggressively, forcing Krueger to skip the Paris Motor Show in 2016 to reevaluate BMW’s electric strategy.
Krueger’s reluctance to push low-margin electric vehicles led to an exodus of talented electric vehicle experts, including Christian Senger, now Volkswagen’s (VW) board member responsible for software, and Audi’s Markus Duesmann, who is seen as a future CEO of the company.
Both were poached by VW CEO Herbert Diess, a former BMW board member responsible for research who was himself passed over for BMW’s top job in 2015.
VW has since pushed a radical 80 billion euro ($90 billion) electric car mass production strategy, and a sweeping alliance with Ford.

Other skills
“A CEO needs to have an idea for how mobility will evolve in the future. This goes far beyond optimising an existing business,” said Carsten Breitfeld, chief executive of China-based ICONIQ motors, and former BMW engineer. “He needs to build teams, attract talent, and promote a culture oriented along consumer electronics and internet dynamics.”
German manufacturers have dominated the high-performance market for decades, but analysts warn shifts towards sophisticated technology and software is opening the door to new challengers.
“Tesla has a lead of three to four years in areas like software and electronics. There is a risk that the Germans can’t catch up,” UBS analyst Patrick Hummel said.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport car magazine, normally quick to champion German manufacturers, this week ran a cover questioning BMW’s future.
“Production expertise is important, but if you want to avoid ending up being a hardware provider for Google or Apple, you need to have the ability to move up the food chain into data and software,” a former BMW board member said.