Oil prices tumbled below $35 on Monday after Saudi Arabia and Russia in a dispute over production.
The Saudis had been pushing to cut output to prop up prices but reversed their stance when Russia balked and instead decided to flood the market with hundreds of thousands of additional barrels per day at a steep discount — a move analysts fear may trigger a price war.
The Russians believe cutting production would open the door to more American competition by raising prices and reducing supply, said Mikhail Leontiev, a spokesman for the Russian oil giant Rosneft.
“From the point of view of Russian interests, this deal [to cut production] is simply meaningless,” Leontiev told the Ria Novosti news agency Sunday. “We, yielding our own markets, remove cheap Arab and Russian oil from them to clear a place for expensive American shale. And to ensure the efficiency of its production. Our volumes are simply replaced by the volumes of our competitors. This is masochism.”
The Saudi oil company Aramco is offering discounts of between $6 and $8 for delivery in April, it announced late Saturday. Its shares fell below their original IPO price on Sunday for the first time on the Saudi exchange.
″$20 oil in 2020 is coming,” Ali Khedery, a former U.S. official in Iraq and onetime Middle East expert with Exxon, wrote on Twitter. “Huge geopolitical implications. Timely stimulus for net consumers. Catastrophic for failed/failing petro-kleptocracies Iraq, Iran, etc. — may prove existential 1-2 punch when paired with COVID19.”
A production-cut agreement could still happen. An advisory-level OPEC meeting is scheduled for later this month, and the Russians have said they are open to further talks.