Oil prices are cratering after the IEA said that global oil demand is actually much weaker than everyone thought.
The IEA lowered its demand forecast by 50,000 bpd in 2017 and 190,000 bpd in 2018, raising concerns that the oil market is actually not as healthy as it seems. That puts demand growth at 1.5 million barrels per day this year, and only 1.3 mb/d in 2018.
In fact, the oil market might actually be oversupplied in the fourth quarter of 2017, which could deflate the recent price rally.
Oil traders have gained confidence in the rebalancing effort lately, with impressive OPEC compliance and a high likelihood that the cartel extends its production cuts, perhaps through the end of next year. That has helped push Brent into the mid-$60s and WTI in the upper-$50s per barrel.
OPEC added even more enthusiasm to the market on Monday, when it published a report that boasted of “high conformity levels” with the production cuts from its members, and noted that the group’s collective output fell by 151,000 bpd in October. OPEC’s Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said that there are “clear indications that the market is re-balancing at an accelerating pace and stability is steadily returning.” He went on to say that an extension of the cuts is the “only viable option” to restoring the cartel’s credibility.
But the IEA poured cold water on this bullish sentiment on Tuesday, warning everyone that there isn’t a new, higher price floor at $60 per barrel. The bearish figures included a downward revision of 4Q2017 oil demand by 311,000 bpd. Part of the reason for weaker-than-expected demand is because oil prices are up about 20% since September. Related: The War That Would Transform Oil Markets
U.S. shale, and other non-OPEC producers will add a whopping 1.4 mb/d of fresh supply in 2018, essentially offsetting nearly all of OPEC’s efforts. The IEA said that oil demand “will struggle to match this” huge increase in supply.
The Paris-based energy agency also said that U.S. shale supply would grow strongly for the next decade, making the U.S. the “undisputed” leader among global oil producers “for decades to come.” Over the long-term total shale production will reach 9 mb/d by 2025, an upward revision of 34 percent.
The comments crushed oil prices. WTI was down by 2.34%, or $1.33 per barrel, during midday trading on Tuesday. Brent plunged by 2.52%, or $1.59 per barrel.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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