In the run up to this meeting, we had the usual conjecture as to what would happen. Beforehand at registration, I met some of the Nigerian delegation and asked them what they though and they were very enthusiastic that a new Secretary General was going to be appointed.
Elsewhere, rumours were again leaked out that an output deal would be reached but the true reality had already been accepted by most of us, that OPEC would not deviate from the policy that it had set in 2014 by which it would maintain output levels irrespective of price. So, why did over three hundred journalists and analysists and film crews book themselves in to attend, but many did not turn up. We all have views and think we know, but, we can never be sure. We follow and hang on to “fundamentals” and “technicals” and then we have OPEC which can often be depended on to do something different and that is why there is always so much interest.
One key factor beforehand was the unexpected replacing of Ali al-Naimi the veteran Saudi Oil Minister by Khalid al-Falih. The policy from Saudi Arabia is changing as the country streamlines its financial management and prepares to digress its sole dependency away from oil revenues. Al-Naimi has been the vociferous leader of OPEC for many years and now OPEC ministers will have to learn and understand the new agenda from Saudi. Will Saudi continue to support OPEC interests or its own and that is what they want to know.