Investment Disability Wrapped in Stylish Oil Freeze Plan

TEHRAN, Feb. 24 (Shana) — If production freeze by oil-producing countries continues until the third quarter of 2016, the return of 1.5mb/d of Iranian crude oil will not dent the prices any more.


Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says some countries produce over 10 mbd of crude oil and ask Iran to freeze its production capacity which is more of “a joke”. 

If freezing is good for everyone, then, “you freeze your production at 1mbd and we freeze it at 10mbd,” he said in an economic conference in Tehran on Tuesday.

Crude oil production by Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE between 2001 and 2016 has raised more than 3.47mb/d with Iraq adding 1.708mbd to its output, Saudi Arabia 0.832mbd, UAE 0.389mbd, Kuwait 0.222mbd and Russia a bit more than 0.320mbd during the period. 

US oil production during the same time, thanks to the shale boom, has increased by nearly 3.08mbd. 

The 7.3mbd rise in global crude oil production and ramped up exports by Russia, Iraq, Saudi Araba, Kuwait, UAE and the US came at a time when international restrictions capped Iran’s crude exports and forced its plunge by at least 1.5mbd. 

The global crude oil production between 2011 and 2014 shored up prices to high that each barrel of oil was sold at over 100 dollars in the market; however, after 2014, production grew very rapidly to outpace demand and lower the prices to less than $30 these days.

Less than $30/b crude oil has forces many shale oil supplies out of the market in a consistent manner. But the exodus is not big enough to cover the 1.7mbd glut in the market.

Meanwhile, Iran, as the third major producer of oil in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has emphatically announced it will regain the market share it lost after 2011 sanctions by adding 1.5mbd to its crude oil output. The country has also said it will spare no effort to gain new markets in the world.

Tehran successfully added 500,000 b/d to its exports immediately after sanctions relief and implementation of the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in Vienna in July 2015. This is a record by itself for a country to raise its production by half a million in a period less than two months over the course of the past decade. Iran has also announced it will continue raising its output to reach 2.4mbd to make up for its market backwardness caused by the sanctions.

Under the current circumstances, other crude oil producers must cooperate with Iran to recapture its market share. This is a strategy that must be seriously regarded by Iran’s rivals in the oil market, because, given the Iranian economy’s 20% dependence on oil dollars, and the price slump will not deal a heavy blow on Iran, while the story is totally different for other producers including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Iraq, as their economies are deeply dependent on oil export revenues. As a result, the blow from diminishing prices will be the much greater on these countries’ economies than that in Iran. 

The US economy has incurred losses in shale oil production sector, too, and the falling prices have impacted the country. Analysts say the current trend in oil prices does not herald a promising outlook for economic growth of the country.

If major oil producers fail to reach an consensus to curb production to shore up the current prices from below $30/b, they will have to undergo $1,600bn in oil revenue losses which can reach $3,000bn considering the subsequent reductions in prices of petrochemicals and refined products. 

Most of the countries responsible for the current oil market glut will have to withhold investments in upstream projects and in the US, shale oil production plans. 

Meanwhile, the countries that overtook Iran’s market share while it was under international bans for selling its oil have now come forward to foist off their lack of ability to raise investments for boosting their production capacity as a stylish production “freeze plan” on Tehran. 

As a matter of fact, many producers can no longer afford to maintain or raise their current production level because of the pressure incurred on their economies by oil price slump. 

The current 1.7mbd glut in the market is an alarm for national budgets of these countries. 

The entrance of 1.5 mbd of Iranian crude oil in the market would definitely worsen the price slump if other producers fail to bring their output to the levels before sanctions intensified on Iran in 2011. 

International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that the global demand for crude oil in the first quarter of 2016 will be about 94.5 mbd which will rise by 95 mbd in the third quarter and 96.5mbd in the last quarter of the year.

Given such estimates, if all oil-producers freeze their output until the Q3, and Iran adds 500,000 b/d to its output in each quarter of the year, the return of Iranian crude oil will not lower the prices. 

Otherwise, if the market glut stays at the current 1.7 mbd and OPEC and non-OPEC producers refuse to make room for Iran’s incoming crude supplies to the market, nothing would help shore the prices up unless market factors other than fundamental factors or the global economic growth save the prices. 

By Peyman Jonoubi