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IEA spots signs that oil decline ‘tide will turn’

IEA spots signs that oil decline ‘tide will turn’

Holly Ellyatt | @HollyEllyatt

Friday, 16 Jan 2015 | 4:02 AM ETCNBC.com

 

Although a recovery in the price of oil – which has fallen over 60 percent since June 2014 — might not be “imminent”, there are tentative signs that the tide is turning, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest report.

“How low the market’s floor will be is anybody’s guess. But the selloff is having an impact. A price recovery – barring any major disruption – may not be imminent, but signs are mounting that the tide will turn,” according to the IEA’s monthly report on the outlook for the global oil market.

The IEA forecast that global growth in the demand for oil could modestly accelerate in 2015 to 910,000 barrels a day (up 1 percent on the previous year) “as macroeconomic momentum is tentatively forecast to pick‐up.”

Earlier this week, the World Bank forecast that the global economy would grow 3 percent in 2015, albeit lower than a previous forecast of 3.4 percent made last June.

Global oil prices are wallowing near six-year lows around $45 a barrel, having fallen some 60 percent since a high of $114 a barrel in June 2014. On Friday morning, benchmark Brent crude futures were trading at $48.47per barrel and U.S. crude was trading at $46.51 a barrel.

The precipitous fall has occurred on the back of an oversupply in the commodity and lack of demand on slowing global growth.

Prices continued to fall in November after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided not to cut output signaling that it was happy to let prices fall so that it could maintain its market share and put pressure on U.S. shale oil producers. Last week, an oil minister from OPEC reiterated that position.

Showing that OPEC’s strategy has taken its toll, some shale oil producers in the U.S. have postponed or cancelled new projects. Meanwhile in Europe, oil giants Shell and BP have announced changes to future infrastructure projects, with the latter also announcing job cuts in the U.K., this week.

Demand response still ‘elusive’

There have been expectations that such a low oil price would stimulate demand, but as yet, “signs of a demand response remain more elusive” as the global macroeconomic situation remains uncertain, the IEA noted.

“Steep drops in crude prices are only providing a limited boost to demand, as the price decline is itself at least partly demand‐driven,” the IEA said, adding that the U.S. was a notable exception where demand grew in the fourth quarter of 2014, supported by strong gains in transport fuel demand.

The IEA downgraded expectations for non-OPEC supply growth in 2015, with growth for the year adjusted downwards by 350,000 barrels per day since last month’s report, with Colombia and Canada leading the declines.

Global oil demand growth is still forecast to pick up somewhat this year from last, but is not expected to exceed 900,000 barrels a day in 2015, a forecast unchanged since last month.

Time for reinvention?

Any oil producers believing that the oil market would return to how it was before were mistaken, according to the IEA.

“It is clear that the market is undergoing a historic shift. OPEC’s embrace of market forces last November is a game changer. So is the US light, tight oil revolution…

While there might be light at the end of the tunnel for producers as far as prices are concerned, the next few years could nevertheless prove a period of reckoning for a market and an industry that, through the course of their 150‐year history, have had to periodically reinvent themselves.”

– By CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt.

Holly EllyattAssistant Producer, CNBC.com