Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 15th, 2021

OPEC, Saudi Arabia and Iran

The recent OPEC meeting in Vienna bluntly failed to agree on lifting the level of oil production due to increasing market demand. Before the meeting, nobody expected such a grim outcome because of its useful previous meetings. Previously, there have been always differences, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the level of production and market price. But no members cared much about Iran's concern and always sided with Saudi Arabia in the case of sharp contrast, and Iran ultimately had no choice other then approving the Saudi-led decision. Therefore, before the meeting, everybody was optimistic about the result, assuming that finally the level of oil production would be increased. When the report was released that OPEC members sharply divided over the issue and failed to agree, many were shocked and the oil market reacted quickly— oil price increased about almost 2 dollars per barrel.

The new scenario favored by Tehran officials and they openly claimed the meeting as a victory over its long-lasting OPEC rival. Obviously, Saudi officials were inconvenient over the result of the meeting and its oil minister, Mr. Ali al-Naimi, left the meeting and called it one of the worst meetings ever.

Iran's oil Minister, Mohammad Aliabadi, was presiding over the meeting, and only Saudi Arabia and her Gulf partners supported increase of the output, while Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Algeria and other OPEC members opposed the notion. They were arguing that current oil price is not as high as to endanger world economic growth; as well the price-rise does not refer to oil shortage in global markets. While, Saudi Officials rightly maintained that price rise was due to shortage of oil and would endanger the global economic recovery. Huge part of the currently around 10 million barrel per day crude oil production of Saudi is exported to Europe and US, both still limping on economic recovery track. Thus, experts view that oil price may once again deal blow to economic recovery of western countries, which is off course not good for all, including oil exporters.

But why many countries decided to oppose the so-called traditional and powerful leader—Saudi Arabia? The reality is this that many of OPEC members are not capable to increase the current level of their production. Thus, approving Saudi-led push could indeed bring them no benefit at all, and benefit would have gone to countries like Saudi Arabia, which have the capacity to increase the level of production.  What now in their best interests is, definitely, selling their crude oil with present high market price which would pour more money into their pockets.