OPEC May Raise Output to Limit Oil Price Rise

OPEC may increase its crude output quotas as members including Saudi Arabia, the group’s biggest producer, are concerned about high prices slowing economic growth and oil demand, according to Societe Generale (GLE) SA.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may raise production limits at its meeting tomorrow in Vienna by as much as 1.5 million barrels a day from actual production, Michael Wittner, New York-based head of oil-market research at the bank, said today in a note.

“Saudi Arabia and other key members of OPEC, with the usual exceptions of price hawks Iran and Venezuela, appear to be leaning toward a quota increase because they are concerned about the negative impact of high prices on GDP growth and, ultimately, on oil demand growth,” Wittner wrote in the report.

The International Energy Agency said on May 19 it saw “an urgent need” for more oil to help bring down high prices threatening economies. Crude oil slid today on speculation OPEC will increase output quotas and signs fuel demand is faltering along with slowing economic growth.

“This meeting result is not a slam dunk, though, with a 65 percent probability and a medium level of conviction,” Wittner said. “We would not recommend taking any tactical trading decisions based on the expected outcome of the OPEC meeting.”

Analyst Survey

OPEC won’t announce a supply increase and will keep its formal production quota unchanged for an eighth consecutive meeting at the June 8 gathering, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts conducted May 24-31. Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez also said the group is unlikely to raise production.

The OPEC members bound by the output quotas, not including Iraq, produced 26.2 million barrels a day in May, or about 1.4 million barrels more than they pledged, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts, producers and oil companies. Total supply including Iraq was 28.9 million barrels a day.

The group will have to increase its production target by as much as 2.5 million barrels or risk prices rising higher, according to a report by Johannes Benigni, chairman of consultant JBC Energy GmbH in Vienna, received by e-mail yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pratish Narayanan in Mumbai at pnarayanan9@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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