viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2007

WHY BRAZIL WILL NOT JOIN OPEC

LULA, the politician.

*Will Brazil join OPEC within the next ten years? Not likely.



From Washington DC.

In the euphoria immediately following the Brazilian Tupi offshore discovery President Lula said that he “could not wait to join OPEC”. Many believed him to be talking about an immediate decision. However, apart from the dubious strategic value of such a move by Brazil, the facts indicate that this possibility could only be duly considered, in the best of cases, in 10 or more years. By this time Lula will not be the one calling the shots. Tupi needs at least 10 years and $5-7 billion in investments to produce at peak capability. Estimates of how much it will be able to produce can only be very tentative at this point, since not enough data exists about the reservoirs, but a reasonable estimate would be some 500,000 barrels per day at its peak and no more than 300,000 barrels per day in the average. This certainly would represent a major increase in Brazil’s production capacity and would allow the country to start exporting modest volumes of petroleum, but not enough to become a long-term supplier of significance.
To join OPEC a country has to be a net exporter of petroleum. Furthermore, to have real influence within OPEC the exporting capacity should be significant. Ecuador, for example, has no role to play within OPEC, except as a satellite of the Venezuela-Iran hawkish axis. I am sure that this is not the role Brazil would like to play in the organization.
To belong to OPEC, on the other hand, imposes a limit on the flexibility with which a country can manage its energy policy. OPEC's main stated objective is to promote the stability of oil market and prices but, in practice, the organization is a hot bed of political intrigue and tensions. For many years now the Arab exporters have controlled it, while the other members have had to comply with strategies dictated by the more powerful members of the organization.
GABRIELLI, the technocrat.

Brazil has followed an energy policy that deviates greatly from the extreme nationalism of other producers such as Venezuela . Petrobras has private partners, excellent technocratic management and has attained a level of efficiency that is light-years apart from the tragic deterioration suffered by Petroleos de Venezuela since Hugo Chavez arrived in power. To maintain these policies and strategies Brazil needs to remain, like other significant producers such as Mexico, the U.K. and Russia, independent from OPEC. This would allow Brazil to have most or all of the benefits of being a significant oil producer and, eventually, exporter without the limitations of belonging to a cartel.

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