Oil traders should not lose too much sleep worrying about what OPEC, often unpredictable and quarrelsome in the past, will do when it meets next week.
The producer cartel, say delegates who attend meetings, is odds on to leave output policy unchanged. As a risk factor for oil markets, its May 31 gathering in Vienna barely features on traders’ radar.
Middle East oil exporters are locked in an increasingly fierce battle for the world’s fastest-growing markets in Asia, as producers worldwide ship more crude east to compensate for shrinking demand from the United States and Europe.
The fight for the trillion-dollar Asian oil market has ended decades of comfortable dominance for Middle East producers, who faced so little competition that refiners in Asia complained of being charged a premium of a dollar or so per barrel above what buyers in Europe or the Americas paid.
OPEC on Wednesday trimmed its forecast for global growth in oil demand in 2013, becoming the second of the world’s closely watched oil forecasters this week to predict weaker consumption.
The move by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in a monthly report follows a similar downward revision to oil demand growth in 2013 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday.
OPEC’s likely decision to leave quotas unchanged next week belies the growing prospect of having to make the deepest oil-production cuts since 2009 as a global supply surge threatens to weaken prices.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may need to lower output by 1 million barrels a day, or 3%, in the first half of next year, according to Societe Generale SA. Brent crude may drop 20% by June if the group doesn’t reduce the amount it pumps, the Centre for Global Energy Studies said.
The OPEC cartel of oil producing countries expects to keep output unchanged when it meets in Luanda next week, Angolan Oil Minister Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos said on Friday.Angola currently holds the presidency of the 12-member group."We will keep with the decisions that we have taken in the past on production quotas and leave our goals unchanged," Vaconcelos told Radio Ecclesia about the OPEC meeting set for Tuesday.
OPEC looked set Wednesday to keep oil production levels steady while the outlook for prices appeared uncertain against a backdrop of a fragile economic recovery and falling dollar."Yes, there is a consensus between members," Ecuadorian minister Wilson Pastor-Morris -- who is president this year of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries -- told reporters on the eve of a ministerial meeting at the body's Vienna headquarters."We are happy with current prices ... (we are) not worried about oil rising above 80 dollars a barrel," Pastor-Morris said.