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OPEC is costing OPEC $200 billion a year

Back in late November, Saudi Arabia-led OPEC unexpectedly decided to not cut its pace of oil production despite crashing prices.

The strategy here was to keep their market share rather than lose it to the US, which has been increasing production thanks to the shale boom.

Consequently, major OPEC producers such as Saudi Arabi, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as non-OPEC countries like Russia, are now pumping oil at record highs.

And it’s keeping oil prices low.

In a recent note to clients, J. P. Morgan’s Sergey V. Arinin estimated just how much the Kingdom’s November decision may have cost them and OPEC overall:

“Our simple calculation shows that the strategy to increase production cost Saudi Arabia about $US90 billion/year and probably close to $US200 billion/year for OPEC as a whole,” he writes. “We believe that Saudi Arabia may hav accommodated another 1 mbpd of shale oil supply without much sacrifice in 2015 (and possibly the same in 2016).”

On a related note, although OPEC maintained status quo and didn’t cut production in June, there’s recently been a slight change in Saudi rhetoric.

Instead, of saying that they will “never” cut production, this spring “officials have repeatedly stated that the entire cartel and non-OPEC players like Russia would need to join and bear the burden of a cut as in 1986 and 1998,” RBC Capital Markets’ Helima Croft previously wrote.

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