Saudi Arabia keeps oil markets guessing — again
Saudi Arabia helped end a cliffhanger over OPEC+ oil production levels but created fresh suspense — and potentially higher energy prices — in the process.
Driving the news: The kingdom will cut output by 1 million barrels per day in July, and then decide whether to continue with the lower output.
- That reduction was a key result of Sunday's OPEC+ meeting as the group looks to stem price declines.
- The end result could translate into higher prices at the pump as the U.S. summer driving season kicks into gear.
Catch up fast: OPEC+ also extended 2023 production cuts announced in April through 2024, while altering some nations' allotments.
- The intricate outcome followed long and reportedly contentious talks in Vienna.
Why it matters: The Saudi move quickly started reversing the general slide in oil prices in recent weeks, though prices already got a bump last week on the U.S. debt ceiling deal.
- The global benchmark Brent crude rallied above $75 per barrel early Monday, up nearly 3% from Friday's close.
What we're watching: Prices as well as whether the Saudis, OPEC's most powerful member, will further tighten markets by continuing the reductions.
- "The pure possibility of the Saudi production cut extending beyond July will limit downside price pressure for the rest of 2023," Rystad Energy analyst Jorge Leon said in a note.
The intrigue: The moves will have some impact on U.S. gasoline prices, which are tethered to global crude prices, as the presidential race heats up.
- The White House, which didn't respond to Axios' request for comment on Sunday, was furious when OPEC+ unveiled major production cuts last October; the reaction to April's cuts was more subdued.
What's next: The Saudi move comes just before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the kingdom later this week.
- The cut "really raises the stakes" of the visit, Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service said via Twitter.