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

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. 


Arab News recording exposes Nissan lawyer’s lie on IMF bailout for Lebanon

Updated 01 June 2020

Arab News recording exposes Nissan lawyer’s lie on IMF bailout for Lebanon

LONDON: Arab News has published the recording of an interview with a Nissan lawyer after he denied saying that a bailout of Lebanon by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was linked to the extradition of fugitive tycoon Carlos Ghosn.

The former Nissan chairman fled to Beirut in December from Japan, where he faced charges of financial wrongdoing.

In a story published in Arab News Japan on Saturday, Sakher El Hachem, Nissan’s legal representative in Lebanon, said the multibillion-dollar IMF bailout was contingent on Ghosn being handed back to Japan. 

The lawyer said IMF support for Lebanon required Japan’s agreement. Lebanese officials had told him: “Japan will assist Lebanon if Ghosn gets extradited,” the lawyer said

“For Japan to agree on that they want the Lebanese authorities to extradite Ghosn, otherwise they won’t provide Lebanon with financial assistance. Japan is one of the IMF’s major contributors … if Japan vetoes Lebanon then the IMF won’t give Lebanon money, except after deporting Ghosn.”

On Sunday, El Hachem denied making the comments. “The only thing I told the newspaper was that there should have been a court hearing on April 30 in Lebanon, but it was postponed because of the pandemic,” he said. In response, Arab News published the recording of the interview, in which he can be clearly heard making the statements attributed to him. 

Japan issued an arrest warrant after Ghosn, 66, escaped house arrest and fled the country.

Now listen to the recording: