Speaking 12 months ago UAE Energy Minister Suhail al- Mazrouei, newly-installed as Opec President, flagged up 2018 as “the year of fully correcting the market” (MEES, 12 January 2018). But amid mid-year market tightening, Opec and its allies opted to release fresh volumes onto the market (see chart 1). Resultant late-year fears of a growing glut prompted a price collapse and forced a second round of output cuts that came into force this month. The seesaw highlights the difficult (arguably impossible) task of market management.

Opec, at its latest meeting early last month, agreed to cut 800,000 b/d for the first half of 2019 taking October 2018 as a baseline. Combined with a further 400,000 b/d from its non-Opec partners the total cut is 1.2mn b/d (MEES, 7 December 2018). (CONTINUED - 1535 WORDS)