The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, met today to decide output for next year. Speculation had increasingly grown that fears of lower consumption due to potential Covid restrictions as well as the release of oil from reserves by a number of countries would lead to a decision to cut back output. Instead today’s meeting has committed to continuing with proposed plans to hike production in January. Market analyst at ThinkMarkets Fawad Razaqzada wrote: “Demand concerns were already on the rise and the last thing crude oil bulls were expecting to hear was another rollover of the current policy from the OPEC+ group.
“Yet contrary to some expectations for only a moderate hike or no hike at all for January, that’s exactly what happened.”
Last week the US released 50m barrels of oil from its reserves with countries including the UK and China following suit in a bid to try to bring down rising prices.
Oil prices have dipped sharply following today’s decision to bring more barrels to market.
AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould explained: “Unlike the White House, the OPEC+ cartel can move markets.”
He added: “”The failure of the Biden plan was hardly a shock.
“Fifty million barrels a day may sound a lot.
“But in global terms it is half a day’s demand and America’s entire SPR would meet worldwide oil demand for less than a week.”
OPEC has, however, left the door open to potential changes in its plans stating that the meeting will official remain in session until the next meeting on January 4th.
This will allow it to “continue to monitor the market closely and make immediate adjustments if required.”
Earlier this week Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said he was not worried about the new Omicron variant however greater restrictions could see demand for oil fall, particularly if travel is affected.
Countries such as the US have expressed increasing frustration with OPEC+ who have been accused of acting like a cartel to control global oil prices.
Recently oil prices have climbed considerably reaching a three year high of $86 (£65.59) a barrel in October.
In the UK it has seen petrol prices reach record highs, worsened by issues with deliveries.
The Biden administration has repeatedly called on the group to increase oil output over the last few months but has been largely ignored.
Founded in 1960 OPEC includes major oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq.
The wider OPEC+ group also includes Russia.