OPEC inaction masks looming supply glut in 2014

OPEC Target

Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi and Angola’s Jose Maria de Vasconcelos said on Nov. 10 in Abu Dhabi they don’t see any need for the organization to change its target. Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, de facto leader among OPEC officials, has yet to publicly express a view.

Iraq plans to boost production by 500,000 to 750,000 barrels a day in 2014 and will almost triple daily output to 9 million barrels by the end of the decade, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Al-Shahristani said in South Korea on Oct. 16.

Iran agreed Nov. 24 to restrict nuclear work for six months in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. The nation, once OPEC’s second-biggest member, is producing about 1 million barrels a day less than at the start of 2012.

Libya may restore 1 million barrels of daily production next year as the holder of Africa’s biggest reserves recovers from protests that have halted oilfields and closed export terminals, the London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies, or CGES, predicts. The group was founded by former Saudi Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani.

‘Rebounded Nicely’

“It is hard to imagine another year with similar disruptions,” said Francisco Blanch, the head of commodities research at Bank of America Corp. in New York. “Iraq’s production already rebounded nicely and is set to see further growth next year. The potential return of Libyan and Iranian oil could thus significantly exacerbate the surplus.”

Supplies from Libya, Iran and Iraq aren’t likely to rebound enough to force Saudi Arabia and its allies into making substantial cuts, Societe Generale SA says.

“It’s hard for me to see both Iran and Libya coming all the way back online at the same time,” said Mike Wittner, Societe Generale’s head of oil research in New York. “It’s a scenario that people talk about, but an unlikely one. Iraq has disappointed more often than not.”

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