Opec’s days as economic force are ‘over’ - FT.com
. . . but the Yergin seems to misunderstand why.
"Opec’s economic power is broken, says the unofficial historian of the oil industry, who has argued that the association of oil exporting countries has become irretrievably divided and is unable to reverse the current slump in crude prices.
Daniel Yergin, whose Pulitzer-prize winning book The Prize provides a comprehensive history of oil and power, said he believes the association’s economic prowess has been undone by its inability to agree on how to stop the oil crisis.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Yergin, who is also vice-chairman of data provider IHS, said the recent disagreements among Opec members have revealed how weak the organization now is.
Mr Yergin said: “The era of Opec as a decisive force in the world economy is over. It is clearly a very divided organization.”
Mr Bergen’s book, first published in 1990, dedicates several chapters to the rise and domination of Opec, the 13-member organisation that has caused sharp swings in the oil price by restricting or raising supplies since it was set up in 1960.
But the 69-year-old argues the current oil slump has exposed the organization’s inability to act in a unified way."
Ok, correct as far as it goes, but it does not go anywhere near far enough.
The reason for the lack of unity is the existential war between the Shia, represented by Iran, and the Sunni, represented by the House of Saud.
"Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s powerful deputy crown prince, said earlier this month a deal would only happen if Iran also signed up.
But Iran wants to increase its output after sanctions were lifted in January as part of a nuclear deal with world powers.
Mr Yergin said he did not think a freeze was possible until Iran clarified how much it could export. As for Saudi Arabia, Mr Yergin said it was thinking differently about oil.
“I remember when the operating code was: save the oil for our grandchildren. Now the grandchildren are in charge and they are looking at it in a very different way,” he said.
“They are not looking at it as precious resource . . . but rather asking how do you monetize it?'"
Right Saudi wants to tie up Iran so it has no money to fight this existential war. Iran will have none of it, and so will pump oil, in order to build its more integrated economy back from the recent sanctions, and seek to fight proxy wars in the meantime. Saudi has very little economy outside of oil, and what it has, is nearly completely reliant on oil money transfers from the House of Saud.
It is not that the House of Saud is thinking differently about oil, it is thinking about an existential war, and it needs as much oil money as possible to ward off economic unrest from its people, and fight expensive proxy wars. Remember in this fight the House of Saud is the banker to the Sunni proxy wars, while the Iranians are not, they train, and provide some arms assistance but do not do the majority of the bankrolling.
The reason the House of Saud recently left Yemen, is to cut the costs of the proxy war there. The House of Saud is deeply concerned, and panic is just setting in.
OPEC's days as oil hegemon are over. Not because "Kids these days!" But because Iran wishes to reduce the kingdom. Optimistically, this will be the warfare at the beginning of the Islamic Reformation, which will lead to an Islamic Enlightenment. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.
Al-Saud is our enemy. The Shia, represented by Iran are the only real hope today for an Islamic Reformation. We need to make this work. We need to trade with Iran, and promote the full reintegration of Iran with the world economy. This will allow Iran to pressure the House of Saud, and allow Iranian businesses, and the people of Iran to build relations with America, and the West. Only this will result in the diminishment of the Iranian hardliners, and the ultimate democratization, and free marketization of Iran. Something the world needs dearly.
Let's do it!