Be patient on oil market balance, IEA says

It may take awhile for an OPEC-led effort to correct supply-side pressures to work, a new report finds.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  March 15, 2017 at 6:22 AM
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March 15 (UPI) -- There's nothing shocking in the steady build of crude oil inventory levels and those waiting for the market to balance out should be patient, the IEA said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries started implementing a production deal in January that aimed to correct a market characterized by oversupply. Despite the cap on production, crude oil stockpiles in the world's leading economies continue to build up, suggesting some pressures from the glut remain.

A report from the International Energy Agency stated the buildup in the level of unabsorbed crude oil should not be surprising considering OPEC members were increasing their production "relentlessly" before the deal was reached in November.

"Export volumes are still appearing in storage around the world and, as part of this, U.S. stocks are building," the IEA's report read.

For the United States, the world's leading economy, it's seen a "triple surge" in supplies in part because of rising imports. U.S. crude oil production since September, meanwhile, has increased by 400,000 barrels per day.

U.S. shale oil, where operations are more cost-prohibitive than in other parts of the world, has been more resilient to the low price of oil than expected. Federal estimates on production this year showed gains are expected, a reversal from forecasts late last year.

Because of these factors, the IEA said the market is still coping with chronic oversupply. Demand growth, meanwhile, remains unchanged at 1.4 million barrels per day. That's about what OPEC agreed to cut in production, though the IEA said its first quarter growth forecast was revised lower by 300,000 bpd.

Crude oil prices last week posted a steep decline on U.S. production and supply data and the IEA warned volatility is likely at least during the first half of the year.

"For those looking for a re-balancing of the oil market, the message is that they should be patient, and hold their nerve," the report read.

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