What do you do when you your carefully crafted plan simply doesn't pay off? Do you abandon it, cut your losses and risk losing face? Or hold on to it, risking even further economic pain?
Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi, the oil minister of Saudi Arabia, must be pondering that very question ahead of the December meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC).
Exactly one year ago, Saudi Arabia, OPEC's biggest producer, caused one of the biggest upheavals in the oil markets. At the 2014 OPEC meeting, it blocked a cut in output, choose to defend its market share in the oil market instead of defending the price in the face of persistent oversupply in the market. Effectively, its aim was to push out the highest cost producers and hope for prices to recover once supply falls. Basic Economics 101.
The following 12 months didn't exactly go according to Saudi Arabia's plan -- or, for that matter, the economic textbook. Brent crude prices plummeted by 45 percent as US shale production didn't fall as quickly as anticipated and global oil demand stayed weak. And that slump itself was no smooth ride. Volatility was the overriding theme of the year in oil. Many who had called the bottom in March rejoiced in April when prices rallied by 21 percent , only to see those gains evaporate again in the following months.
One year after - is oil swing producer Saudi Arabia calling it quits and retreating from its risky strategy?
Some comments last week seemed to indicate just that when a Saudi cabinet briefing said the "Cabinet stressed the Kingdom's role in the stability of the oil market, its constant readiness and continuing pursuit to cooperate with all oil producing and exporting countries."