Geopolitieke implicaties daling olieprijs

Olieanalisten speculeren driftig over de intenties van Saoedi Arabië bij zijn besluit om de olieprijs niet te verdedigen en de productie niet te verminderen. Wil het hiermee Iran treffen? Wil het hiermee Rusland straffen voor zijn steun aan President Bashar al-Assad. Of wil het hiermee de ontwikkeling van schalieolie in de VS de nek omdraaien?

Onder de titel, ‘Declining oil prices: OPEC vs. (future) Shale?’ schreef Afshin Molavi voor ‘Al Arabiya News’

[I]t’s no surprise that the current near 50 percent drop in oil prices since June of this year has captured global headlines and spawned numerous narratives: OPEC and/or Saudi Arabia vs U.S. shale oil, one of the more popular ones, and Saudi Arabia/UAE vs Iran/Russia a secondary one. But as with most popular narratives, there is a deeper issue at play here.

First, let us dispense with the Russia/Iran squeeze play story. Theories are rife about a Saudi squeeze play on Iran, a country with far less cash reserves than the UAE, Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia. Iran, the theory goes, will face far more difficulty with the declining oil price than Arab members of OPEC. That’s why Saudi Arabia chose not to “defend” the price through cuts in production, the theory goes.

With a break-even budget price of oil ranging in the $130-$140 range, according to the IMF, a sanctioned Iran with little access to capital markets can hardly handle a sustained oil price decline. Russia, too, faces a tide of rising sanctions and they, too, are hurt by the global decline in prices. By squeezing Russia, the argument goes, Riyadh would be “punishing” Moscow for its support of President Bashar al-Assad.

There may be some truth to this, but to truly do significant damage to Iran or Russia, the price decline would need to be larger and over a longer period of time. With large, fiscal expansionary budgets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, such a move would risk cutting off the nose to spite the face.

No, there is a larger play here than Iran or Russia. So, is it U.S. shale oil? Is the play to let the price drop squeeze out U.S. shale oil producers who need a higher global price to make their projects sustainable?

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