REUTERS - Oil futures jumped on Monday after heavy falls in the previous session, reflecting volatility as OPEC officials try to salvage a deal to cut crude production ahead of a long-anticipated formal meeting of the group's ministers on Wednesday.
The 14-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced a preliminary deal in September to cut oil output to 32.5-33.0 million barrels per day (bpd) from a record 33.64 million bpd now, to bolster perennially low prices.
Although doubts existed over whether the organisation, including regional foes Saudi Arabia and Iran, could agree on the mechanism of a cut, many market watchers believed last week a deal would be struck if only to save the group's credibility.
But the chances of an agreement declined over the weekend after Saudi Arabia said oil markets would balance next year even without an OPEC deal and a meeting with non-OPEC producers such as Russia was cancelled, sparking shuttle diplomacy to smooth differences before Wednesday's Vienna gathering.
Analysts' forecasts for oil prices now vary widely.
With a realistic but significant deal struck, prices could reach $60 a barrel, according to the most optimistic forecast, or barely approach $50, according to the most bearish prediction.
Should OPEC fail to strike a deal, prices may briefly fall to the low $40s but return to current levels, according to the most bullish forecast, or slide downwards to $40, opening the door to $30 a barrel, according to other predictions.
IHS ENERGY: MOST IMPORTANT OPEC MEET SINCE 1973
"OPEC is under intense pressure to deliver on their previous promise to cut production by around 1 million b/d to 32.5-33.0 million b/d. However, a deal will be extremely challenging to deliver given political differences between members ... An agreement of some sort is more likely than not to emerge this week, as there are intense financial, political and credibility pressures on OPEC to strike a deal even if it is flawed."
SEB: CHANCE OF OPEC CUT DECLINED SUBSTANTIALLY
"(Saudi Energy Minister) Khalid al-Falih on Sunday said that demand will recover and prices will stabilize in 2017 even without an intervention by OPEC. In our view this is clearly an effort by al-Falih to prepare the market for a no-cut outcome in order to avoid too much of a sell-off in case of an announcement of a no-deal.
"...If OPEC this week announces that there will be no cut we expect the oil price to trade down to $43-44/b but we don't expect it to stay there all that long. It'll likely revert back towards $48/b where it has averaged since the start of June."
COMMERZBANK: OIL AT $40 IF NO DEAL
"OPEC is currently producing roughly 700,000 barrels per day more than is needed. If OPEC's present production level were maintained, this would remain the case until mid-2017. The market would then be balanced only at the end of 2017, assuming that OPEC does not further increase its output. Yet experience in recent months shows that this is unlikely, especially since Libya and Nigeria are likely to grab every opportunity to raise their currently subdued production to a more normal level.
"If OPEC really does decide on Wednesday not to implement the production cut that has been promised for the past two months, oil prices can be expected to fall towards the $40 per barrel mark."
PVM: A CUT FROM WHICH LEVEL?
"OPEC's current production is 33.6 to 33.8 mbpd. Once the dust settles it is less the size of the cut and more the actual production level that it could imply that really matters. Do not take an announcement of a headline cut of 1 mbpd at face value. It could still imply an OPEC production level considerably in excess of 33 mbpd, depending on developments in Libya and Nigeria and the speed and rigour of compliance."
JBC: RUSSIA'S INTENTIONS IN DOUBT
"Russia's possible intention to contribute to a coordinated effort to curb the crude supply overhang remains in doubt despite statements by its energy minister and deputy suggesting that a freeze at current production levels would in effect be equivalent to a cut of 200,000-300,000 b/d. This latter volume is more or less in line with our expected annual supply growth for 2017 of 220,000 bpd but with the recent surge in October, Russia has in fact already reached this higher production level, indicating that any freeze would simply be just that – holding production steady at the recent strong level."
BANK OF AMERICA MERRILL LYNCH: "DEAL HIGHLY PROBABLE"
"Should OPEC just deliver a half a million barrel deal, we see prices staying around the current levels. For prices to firmly break over $50/barrel, OPEC would have to deliver a 1 mln bpd cut announcement ... Oil may drop to $40 a barrel if the cartel cannot agree to cut."
DNB MARKETS: "$40 BY CHRISTMAS IF NO DEAL"
"Saudi Arabia does not seem very happy about the prospect of another year of oil prices below $50 per barrel and we believe all the cartel members are aware that unless a deal is reached the oil price could fall to $40 by Christmas."
CAPITAL ECONOMICS: "FACE-SAVING AGREEMENT LIKELY"
"In the case of a strong credible deal, with participation from a number of large non-OPEC producers we could see prices go into the high 50’s. On the other hand, if there is no deal we could see prices slump to below $40."
ABN AMRO - "75 PCT CHANCE OF CUT"
"If OPEC surprises with a larger cut, or can make sure that non-OPEC producers like Russia would also cut production, then the impact can be bigger and a jump towards $55-60 range can be seen. However, the risk of a disappointment is much bigger. A real failure could push prices below $41 a barrel which would open the way towards the 2016 lows of around $30."
MACQUARIE - "DEAL HAS A 60 PCT CHANCE OF SUCCESS"
"We are reiterating our call that the OPEC deal has a 60 percent chance of success on Nov. 30 with a low $50 price range on success and low $30 on failure.
"If OPEC fails, they will be The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Bill Buckner and the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight all rolled into one. Additionally, OPEC would lose jawboning power immediately and be on its way to dissolution while members are locked in a crude production arms race."
COMMERZBANK: "CUT BUT NOT GROUND-BREAKING"
"No ground-breaking agreement on production caps or cuts should be expected from the OPEC meeting. The oil market is likely to remain oversupplied for some time yet even after the OPEC meeting, especially since U.S. oil production will soon start rising again."
GOLDMAN SACHS: "CUT WITH 33 MLN BPD CEILING"
"For the purpose of our oil price forecast, our base case is now that an OPEC production cut will be announced and implemented with OPEC production at 33.0 million bpd in 1H17 and a Russia freeze at 11.6 million bpd.
"Normalizing inventory levels will generate backwardation by 2Q17 and leads us to raise our 1Q and 2Q17 WTI price forecasts to $55/bbl from $45/bbl and $50/bbl previously. We however reduce our 3Q and 4Q17 forecasts to $50/bbl (from $55/bbl and $60/bbl previously) on an expected resumption in OPEC production growth and a U.S. shale supply response to the 1H17 rally."
BARCLAYS: "FACE-SAVING CUT"
"Now, with extra supply on the market a deal looks much more challenging to achieve. At the same time, a stronger dollar and far lower oil prices mean the pressure to turn the tide might be even more intense now than in Algiers. Should a credible deal prove out of reach, only the normal uptick in winter demand could save the market from declining further."
JULIUS BAER: "CUT BUT NOT MEANINGFUL"
"We continue to believe that a meaningful agreement to cut production is very unlikely. More recently, OPEC production has risen to new record levels, showing that petro-nations are in need of cash flows to plug budget deficits. The common denominator for negotiations remains small and any deal would enter rough waters shortly after signature. Historically, sacrificing oil revenues has been too bitter a pill to swallow for most petro-nations."
PVM OIL ASSOCIATES: "CUT BUT A FUDGE"
"A failure to agree some sort of deal would be such a disaster that it is almost unthinkable. Having built up expectations it would be suicidal to end the meeting in disarray. It is also equally difficult to believe either that Iran/Iraq or the Saudis will completely capitulate ... The most likely outcome is therefore some sort of gruyere type fudge, thinly covered in chocolate but delivered with conviction as a breakthrough."
MORGAN STANLEY - "CUT WITH GROUP QUOTA"
"If OPEC fails to announce any agreement come Nov. 30, there could be a sharp correction in prices, which OPEC knows. Therefore, our base case remains a group quota (similar to 2012) that lacks country specifics or leaves several notable exemptions given the disagreements."
PETROMATRIX - "CUT/FREEZE WITH SAUDI JAW-BONING"
"A supply freeze does not seem much in pure mathematics but if it comes with convincing statements that defacto it brings spare capacity to zero, then it will allow the market to price a greater risk premium...
"Given that OPEC seems to want a price range of $55/bbl to $60/bbl it is likely that if a deal is confirmed next week, it will also come with statements to convince the markets that a new policy era is starting."
SOCIETE GENERALE - "REASONABLE TO EXPECT 500,000 BPD CUT"
"At this point, still without any details, our initial 'back of the envelope' calculation for a real crude output of 0-0.5 million bpd is still reasonable. If we take the 0.25 million bpd midpoint as the real cut, and adjust our new forecasts, we would get a 0.25 million bpd global stockdraw in 2017."
(Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru and Sabina Zawadzki and Amanda Cooper in London; Editing by Dale Hudson and Mark Potter)