“Our supply-demand outlook suggests that the market -- if left to its own devices -- may remain in oversupply through the first half of next year,” the IEA said Tuesday. “If OPEC sticks to its new target, the market’s rebalancing could come faster,” according to the agency, which last month said the surplus would persist into late 2017.
By agreeing to curb output for the first time in eight years, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has “effectively abandoned” the free market policy adopted in 2014, the Paris-based adviser on energy policy said in its monthly report. While the new strategy could help erode the “massive oil inventory overhang,” there could be another surge in American output if prices rise to $60 a barrel.
OPEC members agreed last month to limit their overall production to a range of 32.5 million to 33 million barrels a day, ending their push to expand market share at the expense of higher-cost supplies like shale oil. While details remain unresolved over how to share the burden of cuts and whether other producers will cooperate, Brent crude in London has rallied to a one-year high since the deal was announced. U.S. producers have taken advantage of the increase to lock in prices for future production and boost drilling.
Critical Details“Now the real work starts,” the IEA said, adding that “critical details” such as country quotas and implementation need to be worked out by OPEC’s Nov. 30 meeting in Vienna. Russia is ready to join the effort to limit production, which could entail either an output freeze or cuts, President Vladimir Putin said Monday.
OPEC pumped a record 33.64 million barrels of crude a day in September, the agency said. Returning volumes from Libya, Nigeria and Iran -- which are set to be exempt from the Algiers deal -- suggest that “bigger cuts” would have to be made by others, notably Saudi Arabia, to meet the agreed target.
Shale Resurgence“OPEC compliance with its own limits isn’t good,” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Denmark’s Saxo Bank A/S, said by e-mail. “The market has so far rallied on a speculative surge with sentiment and technicals the main drivers.”
Brent prices fell after the publication of the IEA report. Futures were down 28 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $52.86 a barrel as of 11:32 a.m. London time.
Should oil prices continue to rise, OPEC may face a resurgence of crude production from North America, according to the IEA.
“We may well see, in a short period of time, strong production growth coming from North America and elsewhere,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a Bloomberg television interview. “Prices around $60 would be sufficient,” although it would take U.S. shale producers as long as a year to prepare rigs and other equipment to boost output.
Demand growth continues to slow, dropping from a five-year high in the third quarter of last year to a four-year low in the third quarter of this year, the IEA said. There has been a “marked deceleration in China” where “demand growth has all but vanished” as industrial oil usage slowed down.
The agency now sees demand growing by 1.2 million barrels a day this year from a forecast of 1.3 million in last month’s report. Growth for next year was unchanged at 1.2 million barrels a day.