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How does the OPEC meeting affect traders?
The OPEC meeting affects traders because oil production quotas for OPEC member states and certain non-voting observers are set during the session. These quotas can have a strong impact on the global supply of oil and influence its price. This is because OPEC members controlled 79.4% of proven crude oil reserves in 2019, and the organisation supplied approximately 44% of the world’s oil. 1
The quotas set at OPEC meetings can also affect demand in other energy markets, including natural gas and heating oil. This makes OPEC meetings important dates in some traders’ calendars.
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How does OPEC change the oil price?
OPEC aims to control the price of oil by adjusting supply volumes. If its members want to increase the price of oil, they can revise their production quotas downwards to limit supply. Alternatively, if they want to reduce the price of oil, they can raise their production quotas to increase supply. Assuming demand remains constant, the price of oil will move in the intended direction.
Despite OPEC’s best efforts to control the price of oil, there can be occasional short-term price spikes because of global crises.
These include events such as the September 2019 Abqaiq-Khurais attack which struck a Saudi Arabian oil processing facility. The fallout cut Saudi oil production by around half until early October 2019 and caused global oil prices to climb.
Traders may therefore wish to consider other economic data and news sources, in addition to the latest OPEC quotas, before speculating on oil prices.
OPEC’s stated aims are to ‘coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilisation of oil markets in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.’
While OPEC’s mission statement might sound noble, it is really a cartel. It acts to fix prices, maximise profits and limit competition between its members. It has often been accused of anti-competitive actions including profiteering by constricting supply, and deliberately creating oil surpluses in an attempt to drive down prices and bankrupt competitors (like US shale producers).
Politics is also sometimes involved. For example, in 1973, its members voted to restrict supply to target countries it felt were supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Global prices went from $3 a barrel in October 1973 to $12 a barrel by March 1974.
However, OPEC meetings can end in stalemate if members are not able to unanimously agree on new production volumes. Reaching a consensus is not easy as member countries will generally seek to maximise their own production levels while limiting production levels in other countries.
This problem is sometimes exacerbated by unrelated political tensions between nations. Friction between members can also arise if any country has exceeded the previously agreed quotas, as this can reduce the prices received by the group as a whole.
OPEC meeting format
Ordinary meetings are held twice a year, at the organisation’s headquarters in Vienna. Generally, these meetings are six months apart. Extraordinary meetings – which occur outside of the biannual schedule – can also be arranged for matters that cannot wait until the organisation is next meant to meet.
Decisions are announced via press conference on the day of each meeting, with most decisions becoming effective 30 days later (except where another date is agreed, or the decision is vetoed by a member before it is implemented).
OPEC also publishes monthly and annual oil market reports, as well as an annual world oil outlook report which assesses the long-term prospects for oil.
OPEC calendar 2021
|15th OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting||1 April 2021|
At the last OPEC meeting – which concluded on 4 March 2021 – the participating members agreed to continue with the production levels of April 2021 for March 2021. Russia and Kazakhstan are exceptions to this, and the countries will be allowed to increase production by 130,000 and 20,000 barrels per day respectively, due to continued seasonal consumption patterns.
The production levels of March recognised the need to gradually return around 2 million barrels a day to the market supply. They also reconfirmed the commitment to increase monthly production by 500,000 barrels a day – starting in January 2021.
The meeting noted that since April 2020, OPEC and non-OPEC countries had withheld 2.3 billion barrels of oil by end of January 2021 – stating that these measures will help to rebalance the oil market.
Which countries are members of OPEC?
When OPEC was formed in 1960, it had five founding members: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Since then, the organisation has grown to include 13 member countries (as of June 2020).
Each country is expected to send one or more delegates to each conference meeting, but there must be at least two-thirds in attendance for the meeting to obtain quorum. If a country’s delegation consists of more than one person, they must appoint a head of the delegation. This is usually the country’s oil or energy minister.
Each country has a single vote, and countries must vote unanimously before any change to policy can be implemented. Other countries may attend meetings as observers, but they do not get a vote.
Other major producers – such as Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan – also sometimes attend OPEC meetings as non-voting observers to coordinate production levels. These countries – particularly Russia – can have a bearing effect on the outcome of OPEC meetings.
|United Arab Emirates||1967|
|Republic of the Congo||2018|
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What is the OPEC meeting?
The OPEC meeting is a twice-yearly session in which the organisation sets oil production quotas for each of its 13 member countries. These quotas are important because they affect the global supply of oil and, in turn, its price.