...If the September and October production cuts don't do the job (and almost nobody in the oil industry thinks they will) and OPEC goes into its Dec. 17 meeting faced with tumbling oil prices and massive quota flouting, the cartel could slip into public disagreement. An increased level of suspicion and recrimination entering 2009, a year that will see massive budget distress for many OPEC countries, could make it impossible for OPEC to agree on any course of common action.
That wouldn't be enough to cause the formal breakup of OPEC. But it would be enough to reduce the cartel to a powerless shell. OPEC might effectively break up into regional or ideological subgroups, each pursing its own market agenda. A further breakdown could see individual oil producers inside and outside OPEC pursuing strategies based only on self-interest.
Consumers around the world would cheer at the breakup of OPEC or even at its devolution into a powerless shell organization. Without OPEC, individual oil producers would pump as much oil as they could in the short term, and oil prices would fall...
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
So asks Jim Jubak: