Falling oil prices could prompt world leaders to agree on production policy at G-20 summit, analysts say

  • The heads of the world's 20 largest economies are due to arrive in the Argentinian capital this weekend, where leaders will try to build a consensus on key issues.
  • It comes a week before a much-anticipated meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in Vienna, Austria, on December 6.
  • International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $59.71 a barrel Wednesday afternoon, down around 0.8 percent, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $51.16, around 0.75 percent lower.

A crucial meeting between OPEC and its allies in early December could easily turn into a "formality," analysts have told CNBC, with the world's most influential oil market players likely to iron out production policy in Buenos Aires instead.

The heads of the world's 20 largest economies are due to arrive in the Argentinian capital this weekend, where leaders will try to build a consensus on key issues. It comes a week before a much-anticipated meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in Vienna, Austria, on December 6.

"All eyes are now on the upcoming OPEC meeting, but the get-together could easily turn out to be a formality," Tamas Varga, senior analyst at PVM Oil Associates, said in a research note published Tuesday.

"It might well be the case that when oil ministers from producing countries sit down a week later in Vienna they will merely make official what was agreed this weekend at the G-20 summit."

'No doubt' the OPEC and non-OPEC alliance will continue

Oil prices have crashed more than 25 percent since climbing to a four-year high in early October. The sharp decline has ratcheted up the pressure on the OPEC alliance to orchestrate another round of supply cuts.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $59.71 a barrel Wednesday afternoon, down around 0.8 percent, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $51.16, around 0.75 percent lower.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has been leading calls for the oil cartel to trim output in a bid to alleviate concerns of oversupply. Earlier this month, the oil-rich kingdom even went so far as to promise it would be prepared to do "whatever it takes" in order to prevent the return of a supply glut.

However, Russia has appeared reluctant to sign-off on a reversal in production strategy. The non-OPEC heavyweight has warned the Middle East-dominated group that it must be careful to ensure it does not end up changing its course by 180 degrees whenever it meets.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump — who is publicly in favor of low fuel prices — has repeatedly urged OPEC not to cut production.

Trump tweeted his thanks to Saudi Arabia last week, but called on Riyadh to take action to ensure oil prices fall even further.

The leaders of the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia are all expected to attend the G-20 summit in Argentina from Friday.

The OPEC deal with non-OPEC producers "is definitely working because we were able to stabilize oil prices, which is good for consumers and for producers," Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund, told CNBC's Julianna Tatelbaum on Wednesday.

"I think there is no doubt the coordination will continue. And it will lead to good positive results to not only (the) Saudi and Russian economy, but for the world economy because big fluctuations in oil prices are not good for predictability for world economic growth."

Oil price collapse 'transitional'

Saudi Arabia and other producers increased output earlier this year in anticipation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, but waivers to those sanctions meant fewer Iranian barrels came off the market than expected.

This has intensified oversupply concerns among energy market participants, with the value of a barrel of Brent crude falling more than $26 in recent weeks.

Nonetheless, Richard Robinson, manager of Ashburton Global Energy Fund, believes the sharp fall in oil prices is only temporary, adding crude futures are likely to rebound towards $80 a barrel over the next three months.

"The pullback in the oil price during October and November — which are also the toughest months, seasonally — is transitional," he said in a research note published Wednesday.

"The confluence of normalized inventories, tight spare capacity and the lack of new oil from conventional projects… will likely lead to tighter markets in 2019."