Deeper oil supply cut ‘an option,’ says OPEC chief

Oil prices have failed to gain a lasting boost from supply disruptions this year, including the attack on the Saudi Aramco oil installations in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2019

Deeper oil supply cut ‘an option,’ says OPEC chief

  • Slowing global growth raises prospect of long-term production cutbacks ahead of policy summit

LONDON: A deeper cut in oil supplies is among options for OPEC and its allies to consider in December, its secretary general said on Thursday as the producer group’s forecasts pointed to slower global growth and lower demand next year.

OPEC, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, have since January implemented a deal to cut oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day to support the market. The pact runs to March 2020 and the producers meet to set policy on Dec. 5-6.

“The conference will take appropriate, strong, positive decisions that will set us on the path of heightened and sustained stability for 2020,” Mohammad Barkindo said at a briefing in London.

“All options are open,” he said, when asked about the prospect of a deeper oil supply cut.

Oil prices have failed to gain a lasting boost from supply disruptions this year, including the attack last month on Saudi Arabian oil installations that briefly shut down more than half of production in the world’s top exporter.

HIGHLIGHTS

• OPEC, allies meet on Dec. 5-6 in Vienna.

• Options on the table include deeper oil supply cut.

• December meeting likely to set policy for 2020.

Brent crude was trading near $58 a barrel, down from a 2019 high near $75 in April. Concern about weaker economies and demand due to uncertainties such as Brexit and the US-China trade dispute have overshadowed lower supply.

While the last meetings of OPEC and its allies in July decided on supply for the next nine months, the next meeting in Vienna will likely take a longer view.

“We will be faced with real data for 2020 that will enable us to review the current arrangement and come up with a decision that probably will cover the whole of the year,” Barkindo said.

OPEC separately released its October monthly oil market report on Thursday in which it trimmed its forecast for world economic growth in 2020 to 3 percent from 3.1 percent, saying “it seems increasingly likely that the slowing growth momentum in the US will carry over to 2020.”

Barkindo sounded a more upbeat tone, saying data was preliminary and could surprise to the upside.

In a forecast that could press the case for further supply restraint, OPEC predicts a drop in demand for OPEC crude next year due to higher supply from rivals such as the US.


IMF downgrades outlook for world economy, citing trade wars

Updated 15 October 2019

IMF downgrades outlook for world economy, citing trade wars

  • Growth this year will be ‘weakest since the 2008 financial crisis,’ according to 2020 forecast

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund is further downgrading its outlook for the world economy, predicting that growth this year will be the weakest since the 2008 financial crisis primarily because of widening global conflicts.

The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook foresees a slight rebound in 2020 but warns of threats ranging from heightened political tensions in the Middle East to the threat that the US and China will fail to prevent their trade war from escalating.

The updated forecast released on Tuesday was prepared for the autumn meetings this week of the 189-nation IMF and its sister lending organization, the World Bank. Those meetings and a gathering on Friday of finance ministers and central bankers of the world’s 20 biggest economies are expected to be dominated by efforts to de-escalate trade wars.

The new forecast predicts global growth of 3 percent this year, down a 0.2 percentage point from its previous forecast in July and sharply below the 3.6 percent growth of 2018. For the US this year, the IMF projects a modest 2.4 percent gain, down from 2.9 percent in 2018.

Next year, the fund foresees a rebound for the world economy to 3.4 percent growth but a further slowdown in the US to 2.1 percent, far below the 3 percent growth the Trump administration projects.

IMF economists cautioned that that even its projected modest gains might not be realized.

“With a synchronized slowdown and uncertain recovery, there is no room for policy mistakes, and an urgent need for policymakers to cooperatively de-escalate trade and geopolitical tensions,” Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, said in the report.

Last week, the US and China reached a temporary cease-fire in their trade fight when President Trump agreed to suspend a tariff rise on $250 billion of Chinese products that was to take effect this week. But with no formal agreement reached and many issues to be resolved, further talks will be needed to achieve any breakthrough. The Trump administration’s threat to raise tariffs on an additional $160 billion in Chinese imports on Dec. 15 remains in effect.

The IMF’s forecast predicted that about half the increase in growth expected next year will result from recoveries in countries where economies slowed significantly this year, as in Mexico, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

This year’s slowdown, the IMF said, was caused largely by trade disputes, which resulted in higher tariffs being imposed on many goods. Growth in trade in the first half of this year slowed to 1 percent, the weakest annual pace since 2012.

Kristalina Georgieva, who will preside over her first IMF meetings after succeeding Christine Lagarde this month as the fund’s managing director, said last week that various trade disputes could produce a loss of about $700 billion in output by the end of next year or about 0.8 percent of world output.

IMF economists said that one worrying development is that the slowdown this year has occurred even as the Federal Reserve and other central banks have been cutting interest rates and deploying other means to bolster economies.

The IMF estimated that global growth would have been about one-half percentage point lower this year and in 2020 without the central banks’ efforts to ease borrowing rates. “With central banks having to spend limited ammunition to offset policy mistakes, they may have little left when the economy is in a tougher spot,” Gopinath said.

In addition to trade and geopolitical risks, the IMF envisions
threats arising from a potentially disruptive exit by Britain from the EU on Oct. 31. The IMF urged policymakers to intensify their efforts to avoid economically damaging mistakes.

“As policy priorities go, undoing the trade barriers put in place with durable agreements and reining in geopolitical tensions top the list,” Gopinath said. “Such actions can significantly boost confidence, rejuvenate investment, halt the slide in trade and manufacturing and raise world growth.”

The IMF projected that growth in the 19-nation euro area will
slow to 1.2 percent this year, after a 1.9 percent gain in 2018. It expects the pace to recover only slightly to 1.4 percent next year.

Growth in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is expected to be a modest 0.5 percent this
year before rising to 1.2 percent next year.

China’s growth is projected to dip to 6.1 percent this year and 5.8 percent next year. These would be the slowest rates since 1990, when China was hit by sanctions after the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.