Despite the bluster from OPEC, its production remains at 35 million bpd. Every indication is that leakage and current prices, along with the Saudi and Iranian fear that oil is worth more today as cash reserves for an uncertain future, has actual production closer to 40 million bpd, with a likely increase to 45 million bpd.
Higher prices and, more important, lower prices for finding and extracting oil have caused non-OPEC production to ramp up to 60 million bpd from 55 million bpd in 2017. Most of that increase has come from North America, but it is important to note that Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean production from the South China Sea has grown by 1 million bpd.
But more important, the South China Sea, which has proven oil reserves of 8 billion barrels of oil alone, is worth watching as a geopolitical flashpoint among both Koreas, Vietnam, China, Taiwan and the Philippines. (It is refreshing that the Mideast will recede to the background for a while.)