June 2018 OPEC meeting’s key players (AP)
Last week, Gillian Rich at Investor’s Business Daily (Washington), asked me (Berlin) and others about the OPEC’s 20-21 June meeting. Below here, I give my views in more detail, including the tie-in to the Trump project to isolate Iran and my comment about Putin likely betraying the Iranians again. The IBD piece is here: Trump Could Make OPEC’s Next Meeting As Dysfunctional As G-7 Summit. 15 June ’18.
We spoke about market and geopolitical aspects. On the latter, I emphasized both the Trump Administration’s evolving plan to sanction and isolate Iran, and Russia’s new role as a central player with OPEC ever since the 2016 joint Russian-OPEC decision to raise production.
That’s when Putin played a new role for any Russian leader. Not only did he coordinate Russian oil policy with OPEC’s, he got personally involved in heated discussions, getting on the phone late in the last night with Iranian and Saudi leaders to get the deal sealed. Continue reading
Posted in Aramco, Chavez, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, geopolitics, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, Hugo Chávez, Iran, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Iraq, Iraqi oil, Mexico, Nord Stream, Obama, oil, Oil prices, OPEC, Putin, Rosneft, Russia, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, Sechin, shale oil, Trump, U.S. oil, US Foreign Policy, Venezuela oil
Tagged Energy, Iran, Iraq, oil, OPEC, Russia, USA
I sent this today to European and American contacts – apologies for duplications.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I read with interest the declaration: “In spite of it all, America: A Trans-Atlantic Manifesto in Times of Donald Trump – A German Perspective,
” signed by a number of leading German foreign policy experts today in Die Zeit
and translated in the NYTimes
Point 10 is of particular interest and much welcomed as – at long last – a frank characterization in Germany of the Nord Stream 2 project for what it plainly is: “a geopolitical project:” Quoting:
10. Energy security policy — giving up Nord Stream 2 is in Germany’s interest
There is one more policy area in which the German government should reconsider its position to open the door for productive cooperation: energy security policy. The United States has identified Nord Stream 2, the planned pipeline running through the Baltic Sea to Russia, as a geostrategic project. They are correct. More important: This pipeline project is not in the joint European interest. Nord Stream 2 contradicts a policy of greater energy independence and undermines the envisaged European Energy Union. We should try to identify a joint approach with our European partners and the United States. (emphasis added – T.O’D.)
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, EU gas, Euroepen Union, Gazprom, geopolitics, Germany, international relations, Nord Stream, Poland, Putin, Russia, Sanctions, The USA, Uncategorized, US Foreign Policy
I was interviewed by Gillian Rich at Investors Business Daily (Washington, DC) on non-OPEC Russia’s role in the production cut. The article of December 9, is below. A few points first:
1: President Putin and his minister of energy Alexander Novak‘s participation in the OPEC decision – actually making middle-of-the-night phone calls to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, plus publicly promising to cut Russian production – is totally unprecedented. Never did the Soviets, nor post-Soviet Russia ever do any such thing previously. Why now?
2: As Rich quotes me as saying, oil prices below $60/barrel impose severe constraints on the Russian state’s income. Indeed, the federal budget has actually been based on $50/barrel, and yet the difficulties are apparent. Although Russian oil production is now at a post-Soviet all-time high, low prices have caused the state’s oil and gas income to severely drop. Here is the EIA’s assessment as of October 2016, showing the correlation of Brent price fall (in both dollars and Rubles) on the left, and the decline in oil and gas federal budget revenue on the right:
But, how much of Russian national export revenue is derived from oil and gas revenue? The EIA (in 2014) puts this at 68%. Here’s the breakdown: 00
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, Iraqi oil, oil, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, Persian Gulf, Putin, Resource conflicts, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized
I was interviewed by Matt Egan of CNNMoney. Three points, if I may:
- This story echoes my message in Berlin Policy Journal earlier this week and my RTRadio interview: OPEC now has to live with a new oil-market paradigm where shale won’t disappear (for now its in the US, but soon elsewhere too). It is a technology more akin to manufacturing than traditional oil extraction and so more amenable to technological and operating innovation in a low-price regime (or in a price war such as the Saudis et al have just given up on waging against it). And, being much smaller-in-scale means it can ramp up at much lower initial costs and more rapidly than traditional oil fields. The CNNMoney story is below here, or here’s the CNN ink .
- Another totally new phenomena seen in this OPEC deal was that a Russian leader was deeply involved in the tense OPEC negotiations, specifically between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Russia has never done this before. Historically, it has also never carried through on previous promises to support an OPEC cut, instead free-riding on higher prices effected by OPEC/Saudi cuts. In this case, Putin was instrumental in getting the Saudi’s to agree, as they always have before, to swallow most of the cuts. But, Putin has agreed to cut too (in ambiguous language, but repeatedly). We shall now see if he and Igor Sechin (CEO of Rosneft, that produces 40% of Russian oil, and who is, by the way, a great friend of Venezuela’s miserably failing chavista leadership, where his company is now the biggest foreign oil producer) … do as they have promised OPEC and the Saudis. If they do not, the fallout with Saudis and their allies will be significant.
- Now, also, we shall see how US shale responds. Of course, IEA head, Fatih Birol, has understandably predicted that US shale and other producers, will likely hike production if oil reaches $60/barrel and simply eat up the present OPEC cuts in about nine months or so. (Aside: of course, the present output cuts, even if they ‘fail’ in the long run to sustain higher prices, would still have had been a significant cash-boosting relief to all OPEC states and to Russia while they lasted.) However, take a look at the Bloomberg video link at the end of my Berlin Policy Journal piece – an interview with Howard Hamm, Trump’s billionaire fracking close-ally (who has just turned down an offer to run the Department of Energy). He had told Bloomberg he expects OPEC to make a deal because “it makes sense” and, further, that he expects/hopes his US fracking colleagues will show ‘discipline’ after the price rise, i.e., not expanding too fast so as to keep prices up. An interesting, de facto recognition that price wars, in the end (in the long run), do not benefit either side, and goes on to approvingly say that the Saudi’s want to once again maintain prices “in a band” as they used to do. It is clear from Hamm that this would all be very welcomed from the US side. (Note, Hamm’s Continental Energy company made $3 billion in just three hours after the OPEC deal boosted prices! ) Indeed, in light of such everlasting market realities, it is difficult to imagine Trump’s attitude to the Saudi’s will be much different than other US president’s over the years. Which has geopolitical implications for Iran, of course, as the Saudi-Iranian geopolitical competition for regional influence and their parallel oil-market competition both continue to heat up.
Here’s the CNNMoney piece by M. Egan of 1 December 2016 (with my quote highlighted): Continue reading
Posted in Aramco, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, international relations, Iran, oil, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, PDVSA, Persian Gulf, Putin, Rosneft, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sechin, shale oil, The USA, Tight oil, Trump, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela oil
RT Radio-Edinburgh’s Jack Foster interviewed me on the upcoming 30 November OPEC summit where the Saudis hope to set a cap on OPEC and Russian production. Here’s the interview: Listen from time-stamp 9:00-to-17:30 (Streaming MP3)
This would mark the first-ever Russian cooperation with OPEC. However, market realities look bleak for OPEC and Russia whether they reach an agreement or not. The reason is the unprecedented continuing challenge from US shale, which has dramatically cut its costs via tech and operational innovations to stay profitable at low prices. Continue reading
Posted in Algeria, Aramco, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Enhanced oil production, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, Iran, Iraq, Iraqi oil, Libya, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, PDVSA, Putin, Russia, Saudi Arabia, shale oil, The USA, Tight oil, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy, Venezuela oil
Russian Production & Stakes in Venezuelan Oil Projects (40% stake is limit)
Last October & November I succeeded in interviewing several people in the Venezuelan private sector directly knowledgeable of Russian oil projects with PDVSA. Many Venezuelans wonder what all the Russians-known for their secrecy-are up to there. Some of my key findings are in Americas Quarterly‘s Winter 2016 edition. Read on …
Russia Is Beating China to Venezuela’s Oil Fields – By THOMAS W. O’DONNELL
The profits, politics and luck behind Russia’s growing footprint.
The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, had long envisioned China becoming Venezuela’s biggest oil-sector production partner. So when Rafael Ramírez, then president of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), announced in January 2013 that Russia would produce enough oil with PDVSA by 2021 to become “the biggest petroleum partner of our country,” very few people believed him. It sounded like empty hype.
Yet it turns out that Ramírez was serious. Three years later, Russian companies are already producing more oil in joint projects with PDVSA than their Chinese counterparts. Official figures are either unreliable or unavailable, but according to field data provided by Global Business Consultants (GBC), a Caracas-based energy consulting firm, Russia-Venezuela production as of late 2015 was 209,000 barrels per day (bpd), compared to China-Venezuela’s at a bit over 171,000 bpd.
Posted in Chavez, Chavez lagacy, China, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Faja of the Orinoco, Global Oil Market, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, PDVSA, PDVSA weakness, Putin, Rosneft, Russia, Sanctions, Sechin, Uncategorized, Venezuela oil, Zulia
Tagged China, geopolitics, Hugo Chávez, oil sector, PDVSA, Petróleos de Venezuela, Venezuela
Here’s my latest at Berlin Policy Journal (DGAP): With Nord Stream 2, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is nearing his goal of cutting Ukraine out of the gas supply picture. October 20, 2015
On 18 June, during the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an agreement was signed to build a controversial new “Nord Stream 2” pipeline under the Baltic Sea that would go directly from Russia to northern Germany, with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The project, which consists of two segments that would run along the same route as the existing two segments of the 55 bcm Nord Stream line, completed in 2011, has met with strong opposition from energy officials in Brussels, as well as leaders in Ukraine and some other EU states.
Indeed, the agreement between Russia’s Gazprom and a consortium of German, Austrian, French,, and Anglo-Dutch companies came as a surprise. After all, in January 2015 Gazprom announced it had abandoned the project, blaming both the falling price of gas over the previous year and anti-monopoly restrictions in the EU’s Third Energy Package, which prohibit suppliers of gas from also owning pipelines delivering it. This provision has prevented Gazprom from ever filling the original North Stream more than half way. In retrospect, the sudden signing of a Nord Stream 2 agreement only six months after the project was supposedly abandoned, plus the fact that the consortium foresees a quick start reveals the prior cancellation to have been a political ruse. Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Euroepen Union, France, Germany, international relations, LNG, Putin, Resource conflicts, Russia, Sanctions, shale gas, The USA, Trade and Commerce, Ukraine
Tagged Berlin, Brussels, Business and Economy, Energy, European Union, geopolitics, Germany, natural gas, Putin, United States, USA