There is a great, unspoken “what if” in the stand-off between Opec’s strategists and the rest of the world’s oil producers — what if no-one blinks?What if Arab Mideast Gulf Opec producers’ pockets are deep enough and their zest for domestic subsidy reforms is strong enough to ride out the storm? What if the US shale industry continues on its downward cost trajectory to a point where $40/bl oil is as A-ok in North Dakota and Texas as it is in Saudi Arabia? What if none of the Opec troupe falls into chaos, bankruptcy and plunging production? (Libya’s demise pre-dated the price crash, so its perdition is already a given.)In other words, what if there is no supply response, or not enough of a response from producers to rebalance the market, at least in the way the market has come to expect over the last 15 years? Supply has to play a part, because demand alone cannot absorb all of the oversupply in world oil markets.
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