The world’s top oil exporters are undoubtedly some of the world’s most influential countries. As such, it behooves analysts to always stay abreast of the internal dynamics of these economic power houses. Here’s what’s going on in the countries that have the power to make or break the oil market.
1. Saudi Arabia
As the world’s leading oil exporter, Saudi Arabia shipped 7.5 million barrels per day in 2016, according to data published by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). As far as oil exports go, the Kingdom is top of the pile, despite the OPEC agreement that cut 486,000 barrels per day off its production level of 10.5 million bpd. The Kingdom holds a lot of clout in the oil market, and as such, plays a leading role in the industry cartel, which is currently implementing a 1.2 million-barrel per day production cut to rebalance a three-year supply glut plaguing oil markets.
Despite its reigning supreme in the oil export arena, not all is well in the royal palace. Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the newly crowned heir to the throne, started the month off with a series of shocking arrests of powerful royals and businessmen in a domestic power consolidation marketed in official outlets as an anti-corruption drive.
The unity of the Saud family has been a hallmark of the nation since the establishment of the Third Saudi State back in 1902. Infighting in the palace could cause the nation to fall back into contentious politics at a time when it needs to chart its course towards economic diversification, as outlined in MBS’s Vision 2030—a plan that may move Saudi Arabia away from oil, unseating it from its top spot on the list.
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