There are two ways of looking at the OPEC meeting in Vienna, and neither is wrong. Firstly it was a success as the Saudis and Iranians managed to be relatively nice to each other, and secondly it was a failure because everybody can still pump as much oil as they feel like.
The market expectations had been set so low for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting yesterday in the Austrian capital that the positive view appears to be more common in the post-conference assessments.
The April gathering in Doha, which included non-OPEC major Russia, was widely viewed as a debacle because the market had expected a production freeze to be agreed and instead they got an acrimonious breakdown between Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
While Thursday’s OPEC meeting also failed to agree any production limits, or indeed a clear-cut strategy for the group, there were some encouraging signs.
The first was that new Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih struck a conciliatory note and tried to reassure the market that his country, the world’s largest crude exporter, would act responsibly.
“We will be very gentle in our approach and make sure we don’t shock the market in any way,” Falih told reporters.
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