Just over three months after the outbreak of war in Ukraine on February 24, the floodgates are beginning to loosen. Since Thursday, June 2, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their allies have set a new objective: the marketing of 648,000 additional barrels per day in July, for a daily total of 43 million ‘units. This is more than the monthly increase since the last quarter (+432,000 barrels per day), and even more than that since the summer of 2021 (+400,000), after drastic reductions due to Covid-19.
The informal alliance, known as OPEC+, is in trouble. How to keep Russia, a new ally since 2016 and the main world exporter with Saudi Arabia, in its ranks, even though the Kremlin is now subject to sanctions for having invaded Ukraine? Monday, May 30, after the United States and the United Kingdom, the countries of the European Union agreed: they intend to cut their imports of Russian oil by around 90% by the end of 2022.
Raising the monthly production targets can be interpreted as a gesture intended to reassure the market somewhat. A way to ease the concerns of consumer countries (especially in Europe, the United States and China) on future supplies, and therefore prices – although the barrel of Brent from the North Sea has seen a slight increase on June 2, to finish around 117 dollars (about 109 euros).
“An important first step”
“This small concession in favor of importing countries comes before the summer vacation period, and therefore before a surplus of automobile traffic, which corresponds in particular to the “driving season” [saison des grands déplacements en voiture] in the United States, the world’s largest oil-consuming country.notes Francis Perrin, director of research at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations.
“OPEC’s message is that it cares about stabilizing the market, which is mostly in line with Western concerns”, underlines Philippe Copinschi, researcher in political science. Its main ally, Russia, is pursuing another ambition: “Reorganize its entire hydrocarbon export sector in the coming months”especially to Asia, even if it means cutting prices, reminds the energy specialist at Sciences Po.
The announced increase marks “an important first step, without being spectacular”, believes Francis Perrin. “It shows in any case that the countries have taken into account the insistent pressure from importing countries, while keeping Russia on board. »
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