Why is OPEC not cutting output to boost oil prices?

  • Because OPEC's leader, Saudi Arabia, has decided not to.
  • Saudi Arabia is now prioritising its own long-term market share over short/medium-term revenue maxmisation.
  • Oil production costs in US > those in OPEC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, so low oil price is bad for US oil (supply less likely to expand) and hence allows Saudi Arabia to maintain (or even increase) its market share.

Why does Saudi Arabia seem to think that OPEC is no longer relevant?

  • Saudi has built up huge excess capacity and has a very low extraction rate, hence has the ability to go it alone despite the wishes of other major OPEC members like Iran and other oil exporters like Russia (lower oil prices limit what Saudi believes are Russia and Iran's destructive geopolitical activities in the Middle East).
  • Saudi has huge foreign exchange reserves hence a big cushion to lost oil revenues when oil price falls.
  • Saudi putting national interests (maintaining market share and staying the world's top oil producer) ahead of OPEC interests (maximising oil revenues for all members).

Are the Saudis acting as if OPEC is losing relevance?

  • Yes, they seem to be.
  • In Nov 2014, faced with falling oil prices, Saudi Arabia (OPEC's leader) decided not to cut supply (atypical of OPEC's usual pricing strategy).
  • Could effectively mean that OPEC is becoming irrelevant and that the world should set oil prices, and not OPEC.

Did the 52 year long US embargo of Cuba succeed in its objectives?

  • No - objectives were to suffocate communism, encourage democracy and human rights protections.
  • All failed.
  • Resulted in Obama easing travel and commercial restrictions in Dec '14 and opening talks about re-establishment of full diplomatic relations.

Are falling oil prices bad for clean energy companies?

  • Yes. Less consumer demand for low energy products (like hybrid cars).
  • Bad for investment since urgency factor (of finding renewable energy sources) dissipates + pressure on governments for renewable energy subsidies falls.
  • Bad for share prices of clean energy companies as their power (e.g. wind and solar) looks more expensive relative to oil power.

Was the December 2014 Lima climate conference successful?

  • Yes because all participating counties agreed to submit national plans for curbing emissions by end of March 2015.
  • Yes because the agreement blurs the former rich world/poor world split in which the rich (essentially Europe) had to lead the way - India and China will need to share more of the burden now.
  • Summary: No hard decisions made but great roadmap and preparatory work for 2015 Paris summit.

Who is Jeb Bush? (1953 – present)

  • US politician (Republican), 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.
  • 2nd son of former President George H. W. Bush and younger brother of former President George W. Bush.
  • Announced his intention to "actively explore" the possibility of running for US President on 16 Dec. 2014.
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