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Oil Supplies May Be Tighter Than Perceived

Friday, April 22, 2016

In the latest edition of the Numbers Report, we’ll take a look at some of the most interesting figures put out this week in the energy sector. Each week we’ll dig into some data and provide a bit of explanation on what drives the numbers.

Let’s take a look.

1. China’s oil demand slowing

- China has long-been the engine of growth for oil demand, but that is increasingly no longer the case. Last year China’s oil demand grew by 370,000 barrels per day, but that growth rate is expected to slow to just 290,000 barrels per day in 2016.
- On the supply side, low oil prices could hit China’s oil production, with output set to fall from 4.3 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2015 down to 4.1 mb/d this year.
- But lower supply could mean that China’s imports rise at a faster rate.
- Steady, if not surging demand growth, plus falling production and elevated imports to fill up China’s strategic petroleum reserve could combine to push oil imports much higher. Barclays predicts China’s imports rocket from 6.7 mb/d in 2015 to 8 mb/d this year.

2. Oil storage levels still at record highs

- Oil storage levels around the world are at record highs, a massive weight that could prevent oil prices from rising much in the near-term.
- In February, the latest month for which data is available, oil inventories rose counter-seasonally, jumping by 7.3 million barrels. By the end of the month OECD storage levels topped 3,060 million barrels. That is 387 million barrels above the five-year average.
- Early data suggests March saw stock builds as well. In the U.S., oil storage levels are at an all-time high, above 530 million barrels.
- Inventories for refined products are also elevated, with 33.5 days’ worth of supply sitting in storage, which is 3 days above year-ago levels.
- A drawn down in crude oil and refined product stocks must begin before oil prices can stage a sustained rally.

3. Supply outages in Nigeria

- Oil exports from West Africa remain at a record low, according to the IEA, largely due to a major supply outage in Nigeria.
- The Forcados oil export terminal, one of the country’s largest, is offline after a pipeline was sabotaged.
- Oil shipments from West Africa fell by 250,000 barrels per day in March. The Forcados outage accounted for much of that. Shipments from…




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