OPEC focuses on rival mega projects, lives with shale swing output

Wed Sep 23, 2015 7:18am EDT
 
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* Big deep water projects vulnerable to low price

* Shale oil adjusts swiftly to price volatility

* Saudi Arabia prepared for long haul on strategy

By Rania El Gamal

DUBAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) - After almost a year of painfully low oil prices, OPEC members are beginning to believe they are winning against upstart U.S. shale producers in a short-term market share contest.

Yet insiders and experts say OPEC is looking for a longer-lasting impact on other high-cost production oil field plans, many in deep oceans, with bigger time scales, even if that means a period of cheap oil prices lasting for years.

Privately, OPEC's core Gulf members say they have resigned themselves to the idea that the U.S. shale industry's high-tech flexibility means it will respond quickly when prices start rising again, making the United States the new swing producer in world oil, the role held for so long by Saudi Arabia.

"The oil surplus is slowly being drawn from the market. U.S. oil production is expected to fall to less than 9 million barrels per day by the end of this year or early next year," said an OPEC delegate from a Gulf oil producer.

"But there is one point that no one is looking at which is the delay in the longer-term oil projects, these are 4-5 year projects. The postponement of these projects will impact the overall supply in the market."   Continued...