OPEC and Russia Will Ponder Oil Output Under Pressure From Biden.
Big oil producers decided to stick with a scheduled increase, rejecting calls for a bigger boost in production.,
OPEC and Russia won’t expand oil output, in a rebuff to President Biden.
By Stanley Reed
- Nov. 4, 2021Updated 11:42 a.m. ET
Officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other oil-producing nations shook off pressure from the Biden administration and decided on Thursday to stick with their previous plan to raise oil production by a modest 400,000 barrels a day next month.
President Biden and other world leaders had pressured countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to increase production because oil prices, which collapsed during last year’s pandemic lockdowns, have now reached their highest levels in seven years. Gasoline prices, too, have jumped in the United States, Britain and elsewhere.
The jump in prices, Mr. Biden said Tuesday, “is a consequence of, thus far, the refusal of Russia or the OPEC nations to pump more oil.”
But on Thursday, there was no change of heart at the monthly meeting of OPEC Plus, the group of 23 oil-producing nations led by Saudi Arabia and Russia.
In a statement, the group said it was committed to ensuring “a stable and balanced oil market” at a time when other energy markets like natural gas are experiencing “extreme volatility and instability.”
Mr. Biden has raised the possibility of tapping the United States strategic petroleum reserve to modestly boost oil supplies as a means to control prices.
Oil futures on Thursday lost earlier gains and were mostly flat, with Brent crude at about $81.65 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate about $80 a barrel.
With climate pressures looming, the OPEC countries may prefer to reap high revenue, build their financial reserves and raise funds for investments in solar and wind power and other businesses that may eventually replace oil.
OPEC and its allies may also have less room to increase production than is believed. The group is falling short of its overall target, and some members, like Angola and Nigeria, are thought to have already reached their maximum outputs, while others, like Russia, may not be far away. It is not in the interest of countries unable to increase output for the Saudis and others to increase production, bringing down prices and revenue.
In the coming months, demand for oil, still the world’s largest source of energy, appears likely to grow further, as the global economy continues to recover, according to forecasters. Supply, however, may not keep pace, partly because oil companies and investors are wary of investing in what may be a dying business.
The result could be a bumpy transition.
“If you cut off supply faster than demand moves away from fossil fuels, you are going to get high and volatile prices,” said Richard Bronze, head of geopolitics at Energy Aspects, a research firm based in London.