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10-07-2017

Analysts Differ on the Regions But Agree That Geopolitical Risk Weighs Heavily Against Crude

Some say it will negatively impact demand and others think it will send prices skyrocketing - depending on where the fighting breaks out.

Geopolitical risk in the Middle East and beyond was one of the many fears analysts expressed this week in forecasting what's in store for the crude market after days of disappointing losses - and as West Texas Intermediate and Brent posted more declines on Friday, the topic was raised again, with two experts offering opposing views of what might happen in the near term.

Herman Wang, OPEC specialist at S&P Global Platts, told CNBC that geopolitical conflicts are not a threat to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries: "It's nothing new to OPEC - they've worked through wars before, and I don't necessarily see that as threat to policy overall, and in fact we don't see any impact right now on Qatar's oil production."

He added that despite the politics, "Commercial agreements are commercial agreements" and arrangements are being worked out to sell cargoes between Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the open market.

If anything has to be addressed, he went on to note, it's the fact that the militancy in Libya and Nigeria has abated, causing the resurgence of production in those two countries, which Wang says is undoing any good coming from the OPEC cutbacks.

On the other side of the coin, Neil Dwane, global strategist and chief investment officer at Allianz Global Investors, believes oil production supply is threatened around the world: he told CNBC that geopolitical risks other than those in the Middle East warrant serious scrutiny.

He said, "Venezuela's 2 million barrels of oil a day could literally go any day; Mexico looks poor; Azerbaijan's in trouble; China's own production is collapsing rapidly.

"One only has to have one mistake, and the only thing you'll be talking about all morning is oil at $120."

As alarmist as that may seem, the basic concept was supported by Herman Wang, OPEC specialist at S&P Global Platts: "There are plausible scenarios where you could see, perhaps not $120 a barrel, but an elevated oil price, say $70 to $80 on some of these geopolitical and some of the supply concerns; Venezuela certainly is a mess right now."

While it would be a challenge for anyone to cite a time in human history when the world was free of geopolitical turmoil, earlier this week yet another zone of worry was expressed by the panel members of CNBC's `Fast Money Halftime Report,' who noted that rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are "detrimental to demand."


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