Possible Impacts of OPEC and BRICS on the Global Energy Sector

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The 15th BRICS Summit was held in Johannesburg, the capital of the Republic of South Africa, on 22-24 August 2023. The decision to expand at the summit, which was followed by the whole world, had a great repercussion. The member countries have a population of 3.2 billion and a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 56 trillion dollars. Economically, these countries have a 31.5 per cent share in the total GDP of the world’s countries. In this respect, BRICS is an alternative to the organisations considered as the Western Bloc. If we analyse its share in the global energy sector, it will host 42% of the world’s natural gas reserves and 32% of the world’s oil reserves with the acceptance of the membership applications of Saudi Arabia, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ethiopia, Iran and Egypt, which will be new members. [1]

After this exit of the platform to be an alternative to the global system, the questions of “New challenge or development alternative?” came to the agenda all over the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping described the expansion of the Platform with this decision as “historic”. [2] However, it is known that the existing and new member countries have geopolitical problems outside the union and are in constant competition. Despite this statement made by Cinping, the fact that China is in constant economic, technological and military competition with India in the border regions makes it difficult for BRICS to achieve its goals. China’s policy of balance in the Russia-Ukraine Crisis and its failure to provide political support to Russia at the expected level have created new fault lines in bilateral relations in the short term. Therefore, it is possible to say that there were no winners or losers at the 15th BRICS Summit.

It is argued that the BRICS bloc may also become assertive in energy. After the announcement that new member states will join BRICS, the price of oil, which was 83.36 USD per barrel on 24 August 2023, rose to 85.68 USD per barrel. [3] On the other hand, natural gas futures rose from $2.4340 to $2.6630.[4] A large part of the increase in natural gas prices is due to the strike at Chevron’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Australia.[5] BRICS, which is expected to deal a blow to the petro-dollar system or is thought to be in the process of building an alternative order to this system, is not thought to be an option for the energy sector in the short and medium term

With the finalisation of the last member applications within the Union, it is likely that there will be two actors that can shake the global energy balances. These are China and Saudi Arabia. First of all, China is the largest global energy buyer, while Saudi Arabia is the largest producer. Saudi Arabia, which somewhat dominated the oil markets by imposing oil restrictions in April this year, is not satisfied with the barrel prices, which are around $85 per barrel. [6]

Due to the oil supply-demand explosion caused by the Russia-Ukraine War and the narrowing of supply chains, Saudi Arabia wants oil barrel prices to be 100 dollars and above. Another cut by Saudi Arabia will be met with a great reaction from the United States of America (USA), China, India and the European Union (EU) countries

In the period following the expansion of BRICS, energy competition between Russia and Saudi Arabia is expected to emerge. If the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Plus countries start to produce at the highest level, there will be a possibility of competition between the two countries over market share. In addition, the race to reduce the price of oil as low as possible will begin. In this case, it may be possible to see global markets at least 50 dollars per barrel or even lower.

However, Saudi Arabia has been making moves to cut production in the market since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia, on the other hand, sustains its economy by selling oil and natural gas at the prices demanded by Europe. In this case, if Saudi Arabia decides to increase production against Russia, it is possible that major disagreements may arise within BRICS.[7] In the report of the International Energy Agency (IEA); “Market balances will tighten further towards autumn and Saudi Arabia and Russia will extend their production cuts at least until September”. [8] The report also stated that: “Additional heavy crude oil supplies could help refiners to increase their operations and ease product market tensions. However, if the bloc’s current targets are maintained, oil stocks could decline by 2.2 million barrels per day in the third quarter of 2023 and 1.2 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter. This carries the risk of a further rise in prices.”[9]

One of the biggest keys for BRICS and OPEC member countries to compete with the West in the field of oil and natural gas is to complete their development in heavy industry and energy industry. In addition, if they want to systematically develop and make a strong claim against “Western” organisations on a global scale, they need to eliminate the bottlenecks at the development-maturation level with the “Four-Stage Evolutionary Model” in their energy systems. In the short and medium term, since BRICS and OPEC countries do not act in cooperation and cannot fully dominate important refineries or transmission lines in the energy sector, these platforms can only play “production curtailment” trump cards against the matured and fully industrialised markets of the West in the future

[1] “BRICS, Afrika ile Bağlarını Güçlendiriyor”, Anadolu Ajansı,, (Erişim Tarihi: 28.08.2023).

[2] “BRICSSummit: Is A New Bloc Emerhing To Rival US Leadership?”, BBC,, (Erişim Tarihi: 25.08.2023).

[3] “Brent Petrol Fiyatları”, Bloomberg,, (Erişim Tarihi: 30.08.2023).

[4] “Doğal Gaz Vadeli İşlemleri-Eki 2023”, Investing,, (Erişim Tarihi: 30.08.2023).

[5] “Chevron: Workers At Major Avustralia Gas Facalities To Strike”, BBC,, (Erişim Tarihi: 29.08.2023).

[6] “OPEC+ Petrol Üretimini Neden Azaltıyor?”, BBC,, (Erişim Tarihi: 04.04.2023).

[7] “What Would Happen To The Oil Price If OPEC+ Went İnto Max Production Mode?”, RIGZONE,, (Erişim Tarihi: 29.08.2023).

[8] Aynı yer.

[9] Same place

Ömer Faruk PEKGÖZ
Gazi Üniversitesi-Enerji Sistemleri Mühendisliği