OPEC faces a dilemma: extend the existing production cut agreement and support price, or end the production cuts and watch prices drop. The dilemma lies in the impact of higher prices on short cycle time tight oil production in the US. Higher prices incentivise US tight oil production, which in turn, reduces the efficacy of the production cuts from OPEC. It also risks OPEC losing market share to the US.
What to do? We model five OPEC scenarios, assessing the impact of each on oil price, US production, and the global supply-demand balance:
- Base case – extend the existing production cut agreement for six months; lift production restraint in early 2018
- Option 1 – no agreement on 25 May; existing production cuts end in June 2017
- Option 2 – deeper cuts in Q3 2017, resume existing production cut into Q4 2017; no production restraint in 2018
- Option 3 (most likely) – extend existing production cut agreement through Q1 2018
- Option 4 – extend existing production cuts through to end-2018.
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