For long, Saudi Arabia pretended it didn’t target oil prices. The job of OPEC+ was all about matching supply with demand. Focus on fundamentals, and leave prices to the market, it used to say.
On Monday, in an unusual intervention, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman indicated he didn’t like the yo-yo pricing he saw in the oil market. The problem, he said in a written interview with Bloomberg News, is that the physical and financial markets have “become increasingly more disconnected.”
Left unsaid, but clearly implied, is the real concern: oil prices were getting too low – and in the view of Riyadh, for no good reason.
With Brent falling toward a six-month low of $90 a barrel last week, Prince Abdulaziz said “cutting production at any time” was an option for OPEC+. The Saudi royal is a veteran policymaker, who knows very well the impact of those words. If there was any doubt, when the state-run Saudi Press Agency published its own version of the interview, it elevated the “cutting production” remark into the headline.
The release from the USA’s strategic reserve began in March and is due to end in early October; less than six weeks from now. On Monday, the reserve hit its lowest level since 1985. That suggests ability of OPEC+ to influence the market will improve soon and the USA will need to buy a lot of oil when prices are cheaper to rebuild the reserve.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top