OPEC and its allies, including Russia, are expected to snub the United States and Europe on Thursday by excluding oil production data produced by the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based group that represents the interests of oil-consuming countries.
Abandoning the IEA will change the makeup of the production data the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries uses to create production limits for its members and a Russian-led coalition of allies. The alliance, led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s top producer, is known as OPEC+.
As oil prices have risen in recent months, tensions have grown between the IEA and OPEC. Last year, the IEA recommended halting investment in hydrocarbons to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, publicly ridiculed the report, calling it a “sequel to the movie ‘La La Land'”.
Earlier this month, IEA Director Fatih Birol called OPEC+’s decision to stick to a planned small increase in crude production “disappointing”. Those increases did nothing to prevent oil prices from rising more than $100 a barrel for the first time in eight years, fueling Russian state revenues during its war on Ukraine and sparking increases politically inconvenient energy prices in the West.
The comment also came after the IEA released 60 million barrels of oil from its emergency stockpiles, sending a jolt of new crude supplies to market amid a price spike caused by the Ukraine crisis.
“OPEC maintains that the IEA data has not been consistent for some time to be used for their assessments, but this decision is political,” said a senior OPEC delegate. Earlier this week, the United Arab Energy Minister told a conference that institutions such as the IEA should not publish “misleading” information.
OPEC has long relied on the IEA and other sources of oil market information because data reported by its own members is often unreliable and misleading..
OPEC+ will likely replace IEA data with information from advisory firms Wood Mackenzie and Rystad Energy.
While it’s still unclear how the move would affect OPEC+ countries’ quotas and production levels, it could allow Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq and Russia to pump more oil, while lowering the limits for small producers.