Research & Insights #5

OPEC+. After significantly closing the floodgates a year ago in response to the economic downturn, OPEC+ reached an agreement on July 18 to increase oil production. This agreement calls for OPEC+ members to increase capacity by 400,000 barrels per day each month starting in August, in order to support the global economic recovery. Oil production in Russia will reach pre-crisis levels in May 2022, the Russian deputy prime minister said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel. In setting its quotas, OPEC+ faced a complex equation to anticipate supply and demand. On the one hand, the recovery of economic activity remains fragile and dependent on the vagaries of the virus. On the other, there is the likely return of Iran in the medium term as an oil exporting power. Finally, there is the discontent of major importers such as China and India who would like to see a decrease in the price of black gold.

Oil & Gas. A shortage of natural gas supply in Europe is pushing prices to their highest level in 13 years. It should be noted that a third of the gas consumed on the Old Continent is supplied by Russia. Gazprom is suspected of limiting the Europe’s supply, especially on the gas pipelines passing through Ukraine. The objective would be to put Nord Stream 2 into service at the end of the year on a buoyant market and to take advantage of the strong demand and high prices. What is certain is that Gazprom cannot be the only reason for the price increase. The cold winter has had an impact on natural gas consumption, so that stocks in Europe are at their lowest level in nine years. In addition, carbon emission allowances in the EU, which amount to more than 50 euros per ton, are encouraging buyers to switch from coal to natural gas. Globally, gas supply is limited as more and more LNG cargoes are now destined for Asia rather than Europe.

Defense. The Kremlin published its new national security strategy on July 2, 2021. It examines all types of threats and mainly those from the United States and its allies. It defines for each of them the responses to be made. For the first time, this document includes attacks against “the traditional spiritual, moral, cultural and historical values of Russia” perpetrated by states, NGOs and terrorist groups. They “have an informational and psychological impact on individual, collective and public consciousness by spreading social and moral attitudes that contradict the traditions, convictions and beliefs of the peoples of the Russian Federation.” This is the first time that the Russian national security strategy has been changed since 2015. Since then, relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated significantly.

Covid-19. Since Monday, July 19, it is no longer mandatory to present a QR code to enter a café or restaurant in Moscow. This controversial measure lasted only 3 weeks. For the mayor of Moscow, this decision follows the success of the vaccination campaign. It is estimated that 30% of the region’s population has received a first dose. The epidemic peak in late June, when there were 60 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, also seems to be over for now. The change of course is in fact mainly related to the reluctance of restaurant owners and the population to accept the strengthening of measures. Many people, especially foreigners, reported that they could not get a QR code even though they had been vaccinated or had recovered from the virus. As a result of the decline in business, more than 150 Moscow restaurants closed in less than a month.

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