OPEC+ Meeting Shows Persistent Demand Weakness

Authored by Daniel Lacalle

The latest OPEC meeting conclusions show that the global economy is not as strong as headlines suggest and that industries all over the world are struggling to recover. Indeed, many manufacturing PMIs (purchasing managers’ indexes) continue to signal contraction.

Oil prices have weakened in recent weeks despite the war in Gaza and rising geopolitical risk. At the close of this article, Brent is trading at $81.62 per barrel and WTI at $76.99. This is a mere 7% rise year-to-date. The average price of the OPEC basket in the latest figure of June 2024 was $83.08.

OPEC+ has agreed to extend its production cuts until 2025 because the outlook for demand remains uncertain. Members of the oil production group see that copper prices have soared 72% in the past five years, rising 22% in the last year alone, and may fear that the push for electric vehicles is shifting demand elsewhere. Oil prices have performed adequately in the past five years, but they are nowhere close to the levels that producers would consider adequate to balance their budget. If copper can tell us anything, it is that Chinese demand and the development of electric vehicles are much stronger forces than fossil fuel demand. However, this may be an incorrect way of looking at things.

Oil prices have stabilized above the $80 a barrel level (Brent) and the OPEC basket is above what analysts consider the price required to balance producers’ budgets. Furthermore, we cannot forget that the concept of a price needed to balance the government budget means nothing. All producing countries are generating excellent profits at these levels. If their government budgets are filled with unnecessary subsidies and items that have nothing to do with energy production, they cannot expect prices to cover social or defense expenditures.

Demand is likely to continue to be weak but growing.

Furthermore, one thing is clear: oil is likely to continue to be a significant part of primary energy needs globally.

OPEC should worry about the United States and non-OPEC supply. The doom predictions of a collapse in oil production from unconventional oil have failed. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that average daily production in 2024 is 13.12 million barrels per day, a 7.1% production increase over 2023 figures and 1.4% above its previous all-time high. The United States production has become stronger and more efficient, breaking even at $40 a barrel. Additionally, government measures to place regulatory burdens on energy production have failed. The United States production level is robust, sustainable and, more importantly, adaptable to regulatory risks.

Click here to read more.


Daniel Lacalle

Related Articles

Back to top button