IEA expects cheaper oil through 2017, but with volatility

The International Energy Agency (IEA) considers that world oil demand will slow down over the next five years and, despite the volatility that will continue in this period, the average price of crude oil should fall below 90 dollars a barrel in 2017.

In its medium-term oil market report published today, the IEA substantially modifies the scenario it set out in its previous edition 16 months ago, partly because of the effect of the economic crisis affecting the euro area in particular, which will turn the decline in the developed world's oil needs into a lasting trend.

This decline, coupled with increased energy efficiency in all economies, leads the authors of the study to revise downwards their June 2011 forecast and to expect oil demand over the next five years to grow at 1.2 % per year and reach 95.68 million barrels per day in 2017.

In practice, this means that the world will absorb 500,000 barrels per day less, but at the same time production capacities will increase both in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and in the rest of the producers, in particular North America.

The reduced tension between supply and demand will lead to a relaxation of prices, so that the agency - which brings together the major energy-consuming countries of the OECD - calculates that the barrel, after more than a year of averaging more than 100 dollars, should fall from that level since 2013 and stand at 89 dollars in 2017.

However, that is only an average that does not take into account possible ups and downs, because as IEA director Maria van der Hoeven was at pains to stress at a press conference, volatility will persist.

Van der Hoeven, who cited as an example of this volatility yesterday's spike in oil prices, partly due to increased tensions in Syria, as well as continued political instability in the Middle East and North Africa, warned that "we do not expect these uncertainties to go away in the short term".

The IEA predicts that with their demand for crude oil continuing to fall, the 33 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will no longer account for more than 50 % of global consumption from 2014 onwards.

According to his analysis, OPEC will increase its production capacity by an additional 3.34 million barrels per day between 2011 and 2017, with the main contributions coming from Iraq (50 %) and Libya (one third).

By contrast, Iran has lost a million barrels per day in exports under international sanctions against its military nuclear programme, and the agency assumes that these pressures will continue, and with them the erosion of its ability to bring crude oil to market.

Another element that will contribute to changing the oil market map is that technological advances are enabling an increase in crude oil production in North America, with the contribution of oil sands and shale deposits.

This will mean that countries outside the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will on average increase their extraction capacities between 2013 and 2017 by about 860,000 barrels per day, after cuts of 100,000 barrels per day in 2011 and 400,000 barrels per day in 2012.

This new production, which will largely compensate for the expected losses in the former member countries of the Soviet Union, will come mainly from Canada, with an additional 1.1 million barrels, mostly from oil sands, and from Brazil, with 800,000 barrels a day more, mainly from deepwater fields. EFECOM

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