May 11, 2022
Italian PM Draghi Floats Buyers’ OPEC Idea With US as Oil Prices Sting
(Bloomberg) -- Whenever oil prices flare, consumers inevitably dredge up old plans to check the power of the OPEC cartel. This latest rally is proving no exception.
Having already deployed emergency oil stockpiles, and resurrected a decades-long proposal for anti-trust legislation, importing nations are now dusting off another familiar counter-measure: a buyers’ cartel.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Tuesday that he discussed the possibility with US President Joe Biden, which would use its bargaining power to secure higher production -- in the process presumably alleviate the inflationary pain being inflicted by triple-digit crude prices.
“The idea is to create a cartel of buyers and to convince, the favorite way, to increase production,” Draghi told reporters in Washington.
It’s a project that’s been considered by nations before to no avail, perhaps most recently in the purchasers’ partnership mooted a few years ago by ascendant importers, China and India.
Led by Saudi Arabia, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners has so far rebuffed calls to fill in the gap left by the industry’s boycott of Russia barrels following the invasion of Ukraine. Riyadh and its cohorts insist there’s no shortage yet, despite a drop-off in Russian exports.
Whether the buyers’ project is taken further or not, Draghi appreciates the power of verbal intervention in swaying markets, his famous 2015 pledge to “do whatever it takes” in defence of the euro being widely credited with saving the single currency.
But with oil prices remaining over 6% higher in New York, near $106 a barrel, it seems his latest announcement isn’t quite having the same impact.
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