Aliaune Badara Thiam
For cartel OPEC created in 1960 with the aim of supporting a sustainable price on the oil market -- it is in some ways a perfect storm. Stocks have surged thanks to the rapid emergence of oil from US shale deposits. And due to the abundant supply, the price of oil now stands at currently less than $50 per barrel, around a third of the level of 10 years ago, when it topped a high of $147.
This has been terrible news for the leading members of the group -- including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela who have seen holes blown in their hydrocarbon-dependent budgets. Meanwhile, on a longer term horizon, the focus has switched from when "peak oil" will be reached the moment oil extraction starts to decline due to dwindling resources -- to when demand itself could fall.
So the mood as top energy bosses and ministers met at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul this week ranged from pensive to sombre. "It's hard to come to terms with the fact that this is a different oil industry," said Daniel Yergin, the vice chairman of IHS Markit, who wrote the acclaimed book "The Prize" on the history of the global oil industry.
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