OPEC History Shows It Can Deal Even Bigger Blows to Oil Price


Oil’s slump of more than 10 percent in New York since OPEC met on Dec. 4 has struck fear into any remaining crude bulls. The last time the group rattled the market like this — after its November 2014 meeting — the pain was much deeper.

The message the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries delivered this month — that it will keep pumping until rival producers scatter — is really just a repeat of the stance taken last November. After that gathering, crude prices plunged 40 percent in seven weeks of losses as the market realized the global surplus would remain. A similar performance this time around would take prices down to the mid-$20s.

OPEC member Venezuela warned that history may repeat itself. Pointing to the $20 collapse in crude after the November 2014 decision, the nation’s Energy Minister Eulogio Del Pino told reporters on Dec. 4: “If we keep the same strategy, it will be down by $20.”

Analysts also note the possibility that there’s no bottom in sight to the current rout. “While the market is oversupplied, as it should for much of 2016, there is no intrinsic value for oil,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Longson said in a note. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has warned for months that if tanks used to store crude are filled, prices may end up falling to $20.


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