IEA: Market rebalancing to start in 2017, but with no great spikes in prices

Final preparation being made for the kick-start of the 35th IHS Ceraweek event
Final preparations being made for the kick-start of the 35th IHS Energy Ceraweek conference

Global crude oil supply growth is slowing down as a prolonged period of dwindling oil prices takes its toll, the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed on Monday, in its Medium-Term oil Market Report, a publication in which the IEA is trying to understand how the oil market will look during the next five years. The organization has described the effort as a task of enormous complexity.

The report was revealed on Monday, ahead of the official opening of the 35h edition of the annual energy conference IHS CERAWeek in the Hilton Americas Hotel, in Downtown, Houston.

“It is very tempting, but also very dangerous, to declare that we are in a new era of lower oil prices. But at the risk of tempting fate, we must say that today’s oil market conditions do not suggest that prices can recover sharply in the immediate future – unless, of course, there is a major geopolitical event,” the IEA said in an overview of the report.

According to IEA the market will begin rebalancing in rebalancing in 2017 – and by 2021 the United States and Iran are seen leading production gains among non-OPEC and OPEC countries.

The report notes that while oil prices should start to rise gradually once the market begins rebalancing, the availability of resources that can be easily and quickly tapped will limit the scope of rallies – at least in the near term. However, the report points to the risk of an oil price spike in the later part of the outlook period arising from insufficient investment.

Consumers lulled into complacency

“It is easy for consumers to be lulled into complacency by ample stocks and low prices today, but they should heed the writing on the wall: the historic investment cuts we are seeing raise the odds of unpleasant oil-security surprises in the not-too-distant-future,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, launching the report at IHS CERAWeek.

The report sees 4.1 million barrels a day (mb/d) being added to global oil supply between 2015 and 2021, down sharply from the total growth of 11 mb/d in the period 2009-2015. The drop in supply growth comes as upstream investment dries up in response to the current glut that is pressuring prices. Global oil exploration and production capital expenditures (capex) are expected to fall 17% in 2016, following a 24% cut in 2015 – which would be the first time since 1986 that upstream investment has fallen for two consecutive years.

US production is seen reaching an all-time high of 14.2 mb/d by the end of the forecast period, but only after falling in the short term. LTO output declines by 0.6 mb/d this year and by a further 0.2 mb/d in 2017 before a gradual recovery in oil prices, combined with further improvements in operational efficiencies and cost cutting, allows production to resume its upward climb. The United States remains the largest contributor to supply growth during the forecast period, accounting for more than two-thirds of the net non-OPEC increase. Freed from sanctions, Iran leads OPEC gains: Iranian oil output rises 1 mb/d to 3.9 mb/d by 2021.

The report sees global oil demand growing at an average rate of 1.2 mb/d through 2021, crossing the symbolic 100 mb/d mark towards the end of the decade before reaching 101.6 mb/d by 2021. Indian consumption races ahead as more motorists take to the roads, while Chinese demand growth cools in tandem with the economy. Global oil trade continues its pivot towards Asia.

As for the IHS Energy CERAWeek itself, the conference is set to kick off on Monday afternoon, Houston-time, with the opening address to be given by the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, where he will also receive the IHS CERAWeek Global Energy Lifetime Achievement Award and deliver remarks on Mexico’s energy future.

Talking about what to expect during this years event, Chairman, Dan Yergin said: “Once again we gather at a time of turbulence and uncertainty for the global energy community. Our goal over the coming days is to help navigate and lead through the cycle and to identify the factors that will be critical to shaping the new business environment and assuring the world’s growing energy requirements.”










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