Independent oil companies are using the post-OPEC rally to hedge their price risk for next year, banks and consultants said, a trend that’s likely to be viewed with concern from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela.
After a year suffering the economic consequences of the oil price slump, OPEC is finally on the cusp of choking off growth in U.S. crude output. The nation’s production is almost back down to the level pumped in November, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries switched its strategy to focus on battering competitors and reclaiming market share. As the US wilts, demand for OPEC’s crude will grow in 2015, ending two years of retreat, the International Energy Agency estimates. While cratering prices and historic cutbacks in drilling have taken their toll on the US, OPEC members have also paid a heavy price. A year of plunging government revenues, growing budget deficits and slumping currencies has left several members grappling with severe economic problems. The fact that the US oil boom kept going for about six months after the group’s November decision also means OPEC has so far succeeded only in bringing the market back to where it started.