Oil plummeted into the low $60s following OPEC’s surprise announcement last week that it will be maintaining its production quotas. Prices have since clawed their way back towards $70. It’s clear that we are entering uncharted territory in terms of global energy markets, and it’s difficult to say who will emerge winners and losers over the long-term. That mostly depends on who blinks, or in this case bankrupts, first.
Over the short-to-medium term however it’s much easier to see where the economic pain will be felt. Put simply, OPEC’s strategy can be viewed as precipitating a period of low prices in the hope of a more extended period of high prices in the future. But not all OPEC governments can weather this interim period of low prices equally. Some are already presiding over sectarian conflict, debt, overstretched budgets, and razor-thin profit margins on oil extraction.
This article will identify the governments most at risk and examine how long they can hope to hold out.