Saudi Arabia’s Oil Policy in Uncertain Times – A Shift in Paradigm?

The sharp fall in oil prices in the last few weeks has turned the world’s attention to OPEC and particularly to Saudi Arabia’s response to the current slide in the oil price. Following unofficial communications to the market that Saudi Arabia is comfortable with markedly lower oil prices, even for an extended period,  hopes that the Kingdom would come to the rescue and ‘balance’ the market, arresting the decline in the oil price, were replaced by stories of ‘price wars’, ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘grand design strategies and games’.  But why Saudi Arabia has not reacted to the fall in the oil price ‘in the expected manner’ is a question to which there is no clear single answer, especially given that all the explanations put forward suffer from some form of internal inconsistency. This presentation explores some of the potential explanations and the implications on oil price dynamics.

By: Bassam Fattouh

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