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IEA, OPEC strike sour note for oil markets

Sept. 13, 2011 at 9:12 AM   |   Comments

VIENNA, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Resumption of crude oil production in Libya is welcome news but it could be a rough road toward market balance for energy, the IEA said.

Rebel leaders in Libya said they expect oil production to slowly come back online as major fighting subsides. Italian energy company ENI is in Tripoli examining ways to return production to pre-war levels.

The International Energy Agency this summer called on its member states to release crude from strategic reserves to offset market disruptions brought by Libya production declines. That move followed a decision from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to keep official production quotas in check despite concerns that volatility in the energy market could undermine already slow economic recovery.

Both organizations pointed to weak economic growth as one of the reasons for an expected slump in oil demand.

The IEA said in a report that it trimmed its oil demand forecast for 2012 as a result of the weak economy. OPEC in its monthly report expressed similar pessimism, saying demand for OPEC crude for 2012 was expected to average around 30 million barrels per day, slightly lower than its previous assessment.

OPEC noted that fluctuations in the energy markets were in tandem with market volatility across the board. Economic analysts note that volatility is the new norm, with European debt and high unemployment numbers creating market jitters.

The IEA report said, that while Libyan oil production was welcome at a time of uncertainty, the road to full recovery was expected to be difficult.

"Given the ever-present scope for demand and supply-side surprises, so too could be the route to a more comfortable market balance," the agency said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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