Oil prices have been boosted to within a couple of dollars of $50/B since mid-May as a series of unplanned outages brought the market close to balance, despite Opec’s continuation of its Saudi-instigated freewheeling output policy (MEES, 17 June). Saudi output is set to chalk up its record 16th straight month of 10mn b/d-plus in June (see p4).

The US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) pegged unplanned outages at a record 3.6mn b/d in May including 800,000 b/d...