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SLUGGISH ECONOMY

Global oil prices set to ease says IEA

London, October 13, 2012

The world could see a gradual easing of oil prices over the next five years due to sluggish economic growth and rising energy efficiency and as production increases steeply in Iraq and North America, the West's energy watchdog said yesterday.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises industrialised nations on energy policy, cut its global oil demand growth projection for 2011-2016 by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) compared to its previous report in December 2011.

As a result, the pressure on Opec to produce more oil will ease dramatically and the group will have to cut production to no more than 31 million bpd until 2017 to balance global demand. It has been producing between 31 million and 32 million bpd this year.

"Expectations of economic growth through the forecast period have been reduced amid persistent OECD debt concerns, especially in the euro zone. Even China, the main engine of demand growth in the last decade, is showing signs of slowing down," the IEA said in its Medium-Term Oil Market Report. "Readings suggest a gradual easing of prices over the forecast period."

In its previous report in December, the IEA said it expected global oil demand to rise by around eight per cent between 2010 and 2016 but said it saw markets becoming less tight than in previous years.

Ten months later, it paints an even more comfortable picture, saying oil demand will rise by less than 7 per cent between this year and 2017, when it will reach 95.7 million bpd.

"The demand outlook looks more subdued, while the transformative power of non-conventional oil production technologies applied in shale and tight formations in North America exceeds earlier expectations," it said.

Last year, the IEA said US production of light tight oil from shale formations was "a game-changer in the making". This year it says the impact of the new oil streams is increasing.

Global production capacity is expected to increase by 9.3 million bpd by 2017 to 102 million bpd, effectively exceeding demand by over 6 per cent. "Around 20 per cent of liquid growth comes from Iraqi capacity and 40 per cent from North American oil sands or light tight oil production," the IEA said.

Opec will also spend heavily on boosting its spare capacity, which is projected to more than double to 5-7 million bpd, a level unseen since before the 2003-2008 oil price rally.

Opec's spare capacity is seen as the main cushion against supply disruptions and worries about dwindling capacity have been one of the main reasons behind recent oil price spikes.

Despite the IEA's benign outlook, the agency said there was exceptional uncertainty about the global economy and heightened regional geopolitical risks.

The US and EU imposed tough new financial sanctions on Iran this year over its nuclear programme, hurting Iran's access to some export markets. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Last year, the IEA said tighter sanctions on exports of oil equipment to Iran could result in production capacity declining by almost a quarter to under 3 million bpd by 2016.

Ten months later, Iran is already producing less than 3 million bpd as Western sanctions stifle exports. The IEA said in a separate monthly oil report that it estimated Iranian oil production had declined by 220,000 bpd in September to a new multi-decade low of 2.63 million bpd.

The IEA estimated Iranian September oil exports fell to 860,000 bpd versus around 2.2 million bpd in 2011. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Oil | IEA | London | UK |

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