Fri, Jul 13, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Global oil supply may be stretched to the limit: IEA


Oil derricks are busy pumping as the moon rises near the La Paloma Generating Station in McKittrick, California, on June 8 last year.

Photo: AP

Rising global oil supply, driven by crude giants Saudi Arabia and Russia, might come under pressure as key producers face disruptions, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Oil Monthly Report said.

In the report released yesterday the IEA welcomed last month’s agreement between OPEC and Russia to open the taps to bring prices down from multiyear highs.

However, it pointed to supply disruptions in Libya after a string of attacks on infrastructure.

It also highlighted continuing unrest in Venezuela and a drop in Iranian exports after US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the nation out of the landmark nuclear deal reached in 2015.

“The large number of disruptions reminds us of the pressure on global oil supply,” the IEA said. “This will become an even bigger issue as rising production from Middle East Gulf countries and Russia, welcome though it is, comes at the expense of the world’s spare capacity cushion, which might be stretched to the limit.”

The IEA report was published a day after both main oil contracts were sent into freefall by worries over a stronger US dollar and the impact of the global trade war on demand.

The selling was also fanned by Libya’s resumption on Wednesday of oil exports from its eastern production heartland after a showdown between the war-torn nation’s rival authorities.

Even though Libyan exports have resumed, the IEA remains worried for the future.

“At the time of writing, the situation seemed to be improving, but we cannot know if stability will return,” it said. “The fact that so much production is vulnerable is clearly a cause for concern.”

Also worrisome was the unabating unrest in Venezuela, which has sent output from the Latin American oil giant crashing in recent weeks.

Moreover, while Iran has yet to feel the full impact of renewed US sanctions, the IEA fears there could be “an even steeper reduction than the 1.2 million barrels per day seen during the previous round of sanctions.”

Iraq, which is also chronically restive, does not have spare capacity either, leaving most of the job of hiking OPEC production to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

“We see no sign of higher production from elsewhere that might ease fears of market tightness,” the IEA said.

Saudi Arabia and Russia opened their taps ahead of a key Vienna meeting last month where OPEC and Moscow agreed to up output to bring prices down.

“Already in June the two key producers lifted output by more than 500,000 barrels per day between them,” the IEA said. “Saudi Arabia’s sharp increase allowed it to overtake the US and reclaim its position as the world’s second-largest crude producer, and if it carries out its intention to produce at a record rate near 11 million barrels per day this month, it will challenge Russia,” it added.

However, they alone cannot carry the burden of keeping the oil market stable.

“Despite higher output in June, OPEC oil supply was down 700,000 barrels per day compared to a year ago, with Venezuela lower by nearly 800,000 barrels per day, Angola by 210,000 barrels per day and Libya by 130,000 barrels per day,” the IEA said.

“Even so, global oil output was 1.25 million barrels per day higher than a year ago as rampant US output underpinned healthy non-OPEC growth,” it said.

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