Quite simply, the Saudis want to maintain their market share, but their means to control that are dwindling.
The whole internet is jam-packed with analysis portraying Saudi Arabia and OPEC as villains for the oil price collapse. On a closer look, however, the Saudi’s could have taken no reasonable steps to avert this situation. This is a transformational change that will run its full course, and the major oil producing nations will have to accept and learn to live with lower oil prices for the next few years.
Why the Saudi’s are not to blame
(Click to enlarge)
As seen in the chart above, barring the period during the last supply glut, the Saudi’s have more or less maintained constant oil production, increasing production only modestly at an average of roughly 1 percent per year.
The last time the Saudi’s reduced production, the only objectives they achieved were higher debt and lower market share. It’s no surprise that this time, they were unenthusiastic about following that same path. Had they resorted to any cuts, it would have ended with them losing market share and revenues—nothing more.
U.S. oil production has almost doubled in the last 10 years
When it comes to oil, Saudi Arabia has enjoyed an unopposed leadership position for a long time. When that position was threatened by the U.S. shale oil, it was natural for them to attempt to protect their market share. However, like every other industry, leaders tend to be lax, ignoring competition until it’s too late. The same happened here too—most oil producing nations failed to take corrective measures, and they are facing its consequences now.
Where are we heading
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