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Oil Stages Comeback As OPEC Heavyweights Remain Optimistic

We have a week which starts with cartel controversy, and concludes with Nonfarm Friday. Somewhere inbetwixt, we get the small matter of an OPEC meeting in Vienna. With that in mind, hark, here are five things to consider in oil markets today.

1) Back at the end of September, in the aftermath of the meeting in Algiers, we said here: 'two scenarios seem likely from November’s meeting at this point: the cartel is going to fall back into old habits, and Saudi is going to have to do the heavy lifting for a cut. Or a constructive path forward is beyond reach, and the cartel dissolves into chaos once again'. Two days to go, and these two scenarios still appear in the balance.

2) In a signal that the situation is dissolving into chaos, the Algerian and Venezuelan oil ministers are on their way to Moscow to push for non-OPEC involvement, after the cancellation of a meeting today between OPEC and non-OPEC members.

The meeting was canceled after Saudi pulled out of the talks, apparently because it wants an OPEC deal in place before engaging with non-OPEC producers. Azerbaijan's Minister for Industry and Energy says OPEC wants non-OPEC producers to cut output by as much as 880,000 bpd. The chart below highlights key non-OPEC producers who are likely to be leaned on for their cooperation.

(Click to enlarge)

3) While the OPEC heavyweights of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran slug it out to see who cuts production and who doesn't, spare a thought for the smaller members of OPEC. Gabon's oil export revenues are based on a volume of 200,000 bpd, while Indonesia's oil exports are only a little bit higher at ~230,000 bpd.

Combined with Ecuador, the three OPEC members have exported an average of ~850,000 bpd this year. To put this in context, Saudi Arabia exports eight times this volume.

(Click to enlarge)

4) The chart below presents a different angle on the whole Saudi vs. Iran dispute. While Iran is targeting a production freeze around current levels (3.69 million bpd according to secondary sources, 3.92mn bpd based on direct communication), the chart below highlights (from OPEC secondary sources via Bloomberg) how Saudi production is in fact up over 2 million barrels per day since the start of 2011, while Iranian output is flat over the same period. In this context, Iran's request to keep production the same seems fairly reasonable.

Related: The Economy Needs Higher Oil Prices – Goldman Sachs

(Click to enlarge)

5) Finally, the chart below is pilfered from this CNBC article on OPEC - driven by our ClipperData. It highlights the growing prominence of Iranian oil into India this year. This is due to a combination of factors: not only because Iranian production is rebounding after the lifting of sanctions, but also because of rising demand from India. Exports from the three countries below now account for nearly a half of all Indian crude imports.

(Click to enlarge)

By Matt Smith

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