OPEC Unlikely to Loom over U.S. Elections

As candidates for the 2016 U.S. general election gear up for a White House run, one villain of recent campaign cycles will be conspicuously absent: the cartel known as OPEC.

With the U.S. oil boom helping the world’s largest economy churn out more than 9 million barrels per day (bpd), its highest in about three decades and up 80 percent since 2008, energy prices appear to be sidelined as political theater. Should current trends continue—prices of Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate are trading near their lowest levels in nearly 10 years—energy prices are unlikely to figure prominently in the coming presidential election.

Even as geopolitical risks in Iraq, Syria and Venezuela continue, national gas prices now hover in the $2.50 range, thanks in large measure to the U.S. oil bounty. That is a far cry from a few years ago, when average gas prices threatened $4 per gallon and oil was perched comfortably above $100.