Saudi says oil at $70 – $80/bbl is a “perfect price”

Oil stocks Dec09.JPGOPEC’s Angola meeting lasted just 70 minutes yesterday. Before the session, Saudi Oil Minister al-Naimi noted that prices were at their target level of $70-$80/bbl, and called this “a perfect price”.

However, the underlying supply/demand balance remains fragile. As the chart from Nomura shows, current OECD oil/product inventories are well above normal levels. Whilst today’s high prices have tempted many OPEC members to increase output above their production quota.

Quota compliance is now down to c60%, compared to 80% in H1, when prices were below $50bbl. Nigeria is pumping 1.96mbd (quota 1.67mbd), Iran 3.78mbd (3.34mbd), Venezuela 2.24mbd (1.99mbd). Equally, geo-political issues are less important, at least temporarily. Hostilities in the Niger delta are greatly reduced, whilst Iran’s nuclear ambitions have also moved off the front pages.

OPEC’s own statement also showed it remains aware that supply is well ahead of current demand levels, noting that “it is not yet clear how strong or durable the recovery might be” and adding that “the world (was) still faced by shrinking industrial production, low private consumption and high unemployment“.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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