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OPEC+ has stuck to its production cuts, buttressing its efforts to keep oil at above $80 a barrel. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Oil prices have surged to their highest in a year, and surpassing the $90 a barrel mark. This can be attributed to the commitment of OPEC+ members to stick resolutely to production quotas, coupled with voluntary cuts from Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This surge is further exacerbated by surging demand, indicating that oil prices are likely to remain high in the foreseeable future. In a notable development, Goldman Sachs revised its forecast, anticipating prices to reach $100 per barrel in the coming months.

In response, oil consuming countries have made significant adjustments to their strategies aimed at increasing their supply in an effort to mitigate the price hikes. This shift comes as the formal sanctions on Iranian oil exports have effectively been lifted, particularly so after the release of Iranian funds held in South Korea through an agreement linked to a prisoner exchange deal with the US.

Additionally, a recent meeting of seven major countries to review a upper price ceiling for Russian oil exports was canceled. This indicates a willingness to allow Russian oil exports to flow at market prices.

Russian oil, gas supply to Europe

These developments are not limited to oil prices alone but extend to natural gas prices. According to Bloomberg, the German government anticipates gas prices will remain high at least until 2027, underscoring the need for additional measures, particularly if the ban on Russian gas imports to Europe persists until that time. (Such a scenario seems unlikely, though.)

The New York Times revealed that German officials are privately advocating the initiation of peace negotiations concerning Ukraine. This underscores a shared desire in Berlin and Washington to see an end to the conflict without it lingering indefinitely.

While Russian oil and gas exports have continued, albeit with a shift towards Eastern markets, the eventual lifting of the embargo on these and a return to normalcy in global markets, especially in Europe following a resolution of the Ukrainian issue, will have repercussions on oil and gas prices. The European Commission for Energy Affairs noted an increase in Russian gas shipments to EU member states over the past seven months. Nevertheless, the extent of these is likely to be constrained by various factors, as emphasized by the International Energy Agency, which has warned of a significant oil market deficit in the fourth quarter 2023.

One of the most significant aspects to consider is that this shift is unlikely to substantially impact the supply and demand dynamics in global markets. Instead, its primary effect will be the reduction of transportation costs in Europe. This, in turn, should lead to lower prices for consumers in these countries and alleviate the financial burden of energy subsidies, which have imposed additional costs on the budgets of EU countries.

Sticking to the pact on cuts

Consequently, these developments are not expected to result in significant price fluctuations. The regular meetings of the OPEC+ group will be instrumental in addressing and responding to any market shifting developments. The group's continued commitment to maintaining oil prices within the $80-90 range reflects a sense of cohesion. This unity bodes well for stabilizing prices at levels deemed fair by the industry.

Taking into account the expected high demand for oil in the coming year, OPEC estimates this demand to be around 2.5 million barrels per day, which is projected to provide additional financial resources for oil-producing countries. This will enable them to bolster their fiscal positions and embark on more ambitious development projects to diversifying the economies. Such endeavors have the potential to spur more growth, ultimately leading to an all-round improvement in quality of life.

Heightened geopolitical tensions and conflicts do tend to drive up prices of goods, including of energy, escalate inflation risks, create supply shortages, and erode living standards. Addressing these tensions and bringing an end to conflicts can yield positive outcomes for economies worldwide. Such actions help with lowering prices, yield numerous benefits for all stakeholders, and promote greater stability within the global economic system.