Oil has staged a tremendous surge in the past 48 hours, largely on the back of speculation that Trump will “encourage” Saudi Arabia and Russia to pursue output cuts, even though as it subsequently emerged when Trump tweeted that the “hopes” to see an N-OPEC output cut, it was an “exaggeration” and wishful thinking more than statement of fact. However, whereas the initial rally – which send the price of oil soaring by 25% on Thursday, or the most ever – faded, the rally got a second wind on Friday following reports that the R-OPEC (Russia + OPEC) alliance of oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia is set to debate production cuts of at least 6 million barrels a day Monday and consider inviting U.S. producers to participate, the WSJ reported citing OPEC country officials.
However, even that hypothetical best case outcome for oil bulls – and certainly the US shale industry – comes with strings attached, and the outcome of Monday’s virtual summit between OPEC, which Saudi Arabia effectively crushed one month ago when it decided to flood the market with oil, and non-OPEC nations “will largely depend on a discussion Friday between the White House and U.S. oil companies” according to the WSJ.
The reason: both Saudi Arabia and Russia are demanding that US shale producers, some of whom such as Whiting Petroleum have already filed for Chapter 11 protection yet continue to pump as normal, join the production cuts. As the WSJ reports, “Saudi Arabia and Russia won’t cut unless they get signals from U.S. producers they will reduce output, the officials said. But they added that official joint curbs would be more difficult to enact in the U.S. because of antitrust laws.”
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