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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

An interesting development today from OPEC; they plan to cut production by 900,000 barrels a day (except for Iraq) starting November 1st. The effects will probably be felt in the U.S.:

'The decision, still to be ratified at a 1400 GMT meeting, looks set to raise energy bills for oil importing nations during the northern hemisphere winter.'

'U.S. light crude futures reacted quickly and at 1400 GMT stood up 89 cents at $27.99 a barrel.'

'"If oil prices continue to move higher, then interest rates in the G7 may need to be higher than they would otherwise be which is not good for recovery prospects,'' said Paul Robson, international economist at Bank One Corp in London.'

The real question, of course, is whether or not this will affect Iraq's position in OPEC. According to the article, it won't:

'Iraq, attending its first OPEC meeting since U.S. occupation, reassured fellow members that Washington's influence would not prevent it staying in the cartel.'

'"Iraq will remain in OPEC as a full member,'' Iraq's new oil minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum told a news conference.'

'He said Baghdad's reintegration into OPEC's quota system would have to wait until Iraqi production, still to reach pre-war volumes, had been restored.'

Out here in California we've been feeling the effects of several supply issues (a pipeline out to Arizona broke, among other things) as price increases (a gallon of regular unleaded goes for about $2.07 these days). It will be interesting to see if, as OPEC predicts, Russian production and other non-OPEC oil production will be enough to make up the differece; they cite several statistics in support of their production cut:

'Delegates said ministers were worried about a counter-seasonal crude stockbuild during the fourth quarter and Iraq's continued recovery toward pre-war supplies.'

'Projections for 2004 from the International Energy Agency, adviser on energy to 26 industrialized nations, are for 1.4 million bpd of extra non-OPEC supply and only 1.1 million bpd of demand growth on the 79 million bpd world market.'

We will be watching with interest to see what happens this winter; if there will be domestic pressure on the Bush administration to (quietly) urge Iraq not to continue its membership in OPEC, or if that issue is too hot for even the Bush administration to touch. At the moment, Iraq is nowhere near its production capacity and therefore its revenue stream isn't being capped by OPEC export limits. As we've said before, the real interesting stuff happens when Iraq reaches those levels again -- will the U.S. exert infuence on Iraq to get out of OPEC if it means more money to repay the "rebuilding" costs?

Andrew 8:25 AM : |


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