OPEC+ faces challenge from rivals’ rising output, says IEA

A fracking rig in the Permian Basin oil field in Texas. The IEA estimates non-OPEC supply growth will surge to 2.3 million barrels per day next year. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2019

OPEC+ faces challenge from rivals’ rising output, says IEA

  • Sluggish refinery activity in the first three quarters has caused crude oil demand to fall for first time in a decade

LONDON: OPEC and its allies face stiffening competition in 2020, the International Energy Agency said on Friday, adding urgency to the oil producer group’s policy meeting next month.

“The OPEC+ countries face a major challenge in 2020 as demand for their crude is expected to fall sharply,” the Paris-based agency said in a monthly report.

The IEA estimated non-OPEC supply growth would surge to
2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) next year compared with 1.8 million bpd in 2019, citing production from the US, Brazil, Norway and Guyana.

“The hefty supply cushion that is likely to build up during the first half of next year will offer cold comfort to OPEC+ ministers gathering in Vienna at the start of next month,” it added.

While US supply rose by 145,000 bpd in October, the IEA said, a slowdown in activity that started earlier this year looks set to continue as companies prioritize capital discipline.

Demand for crude oil from OPEC in 2020 will be 28.9 million bpd, the IEA forecast, 1 million bpd below the exporter club’s current production.

The recovery by Saudi Arabia from attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure contributed 1.4 million bpd to the global oil supply increase in October of 1.5 million bpd.

Saudi state oil company Aramco, the world’s most profitable firm, starts a share sale on Nov. 17 in an initial public offering that may raise between $20 billion and
$40 billion.

It was the IEA’s last monthly report before the Dec. 5-6 talks among OPEC states and partners led by Russia on whether to maintain supply curbs aimed at buoying prices and balancing the market.

The agency kept its assessments for growth in global oil demand in 2019 and 2020 at 1 million bpd and 1.2 million bpd respectively, but said its outlook might slightly underestimate the impact of tariffs from the US-China trade war.

The IEA said that if some or all tariffs were lifted in coming months, “world economic growth and oil demand growth would both rise significantly,” though the rebound may not be immediate.

Sluggish refinery activity in the first three quarters has caused crude oil demand to fall in 2019 for the first time since 2009, the IEA said, but refining is set to rebound sharply in the fourth quarter and in 2020.


US trade offensive takes out WTO as global arbiter

Updated 19 min 58 sec ago

US trade offensive takes out WTO as global arbiter

  • Two years after starting to block appointments, the US will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body
  • Two of three members of Appellate Body exit and leave it unable to issue rulings

BRUSSELS: US disruption of the global economic order reaches a major milestone on Tuesday as the World Trade Organization (WTO) loses its ability to intervene in trade wars, threatening the future of the Geneva-based body.
Two years after starting to block appointments, the United States will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body, which acts as the supreme court for international trade, as two of three members exit and leave it unable to issue rulings.
Major trade disputes, including the US conflict with China and metal tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump, will not be resolved by the global trade arbiter.
Stephen Vaughn, who served as general counsel to the US Trade Representative during Trump’s first two years, said many disputes would be settled in future by negotiations.
Critics say this means a return to a post-war period of inconsistent settlements, problems the WTO’s creation in 1995 was designed to fix.
The EU ambassador to the WTO told counterparts in Geneva on Monday the Appellate Body’s paralysis risked creating a system of economic relations based on power rather than rules.
The crippling of dispute settlement comes as the WTO also struggles in its other major role of opening markets.
The WTO club of 164 has not produced any international accord since abandoning “Doha Round” negotiations in 2015.
Trade-restrictive measures among the G20 group of largest economies are at historic highs, compounded by Trump’s “America First” agenda and the trade war with China.
Phil Hogan, the European Union’s new trade commissioner, said on Friday the WTO was no longer fit for purpose and in dire need of reforms going beyond just fixing the appeals mechanism.
For developed countries, in particular, the WTO’s rules must change to take account of state-controlled enterprises.
In 2017, Japan brought together the United States and the European Union in a joint bid to set new global rules on state subsidies and forced technology transfers.
The US is also pushing to limit the ability of WTO members to grant themselves developing status, which for example gives them longer to implement WTO agreements.
Such “developing countries” include Singapore and Israel, but China is the clear focus.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Reuters last week the United States wanted to end concessions given to then struggling economies that were no longer appropriate.
“We’ve been spoiling countries for a very, very long time, so naturally they’re pushing back as we try to change things,” he said.
The trouble with WTO reform is that changes require consensus to pass. That includes Chinese backing.
Beijing has published its own reform proposals with a string of grievances against US actions. Reform should resolve crucial issues threatening the WTO’s existence, while preserving the interests of developing countries.
Many observers believe the WTO faces a pivotal moment in mid-2020 when its trade ministers gather in a drive to push through a multinational deal — on cutting fishing subsidies.
“It’s not the WTO that will save the fish. It’s the fish that are going to save the WTO,” said one ambassador.