OPEC: Low oil prices hurting world economy

Updated 10 February 2016
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OPEC: Low oil prices hurting world economy

LONDON: OPEC pointed to a larger oil supply surplus on the world market this year than previously thought as Saudi Arabia and other members pump more oil, helping to make up for losses in non-member producers hurt by the collapse in prices.
The monthly report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries indicates supply will exceed demand by 720,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2016, up from 530,000 bpd implied in the previous report.
A persistent surplus could weigh on prices, which have collapsed to a 12-year low of $27.10 a barrel last month from over $100 in mid-2014. OPEC’s 2014 strategy shift to defend market share and not prices helped deepen the decline.
OPEC also cut its forecast for world economic growth in 2016 to 3.2 percent from 3.4 percent and said low oil prices were hurting the economy, in contrast to previous price slides that were supportive of global growth.
“It seems that the overall negative effect from the sharp decline in oil prices since mid-2014 has outweighed benefits in the short-term,” OPEC said.
“There seems to be a ‘contagious’ effect taking place across many aspects of the global economy.”
OPEC cited factors including the financial strain on producers dependent on oil income, the inability of central banks to lower interest rates and impacts on sectors from manufacturing to agriculture.
The report added to signs that the price drop is hitting relatively expensive non-OPEC supply. Companies have delayed or canceled billions of dollars worth of projects, putting some future supply at risk.
OPEC now forecasts supply from non-member producers will decline by 700,000 bpd in 2016, led by the United States. Last month, OPEC predicted a drop of 660,000 bpd.
But OPEC produced 32.33 million bpd according to secondary sources, up 130,000 bpd from December, offsetting the forecast decline from outside the group.
Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia told OPEC it increased production to 10.23 million bpd from 10.14 million bpd in December. The secondary sources also reported higher output from major producers Iran and Iraq.
Supply from OPEC could rise further due to the lifting of sanctions on Iran. Tehran is aiming to increase output by 500,000 bpd, which would fill most of the hole left by non-OPEC members.
OPEC left its 2016 global oil demand growth forecast little changed, predicting demand would rise by 1.25 million bpd, marking a slowdown from 1.54 million bpd in 2015.


Asia’s refining profits slump as Mideast exports surge

Updated 23 February 2019
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Asia’s refining profits slump as Mideast exports surge

  • Since 2006, the Asia-Pacific has been the world’s biggest oil-consuming region, led by industrial users South Korea and Japan along with rising powerhouses China and India
  • However, overbuilding of refineries and sluggish demand growth have caused a jump in fuel exports from these demand hubs

SINGAPORE: Asia’s biggest oil consumers are flooding the region with fuel as refining output is exceeding consumption amid a slowdown in demand growth, pressuring industry profits.
Since 2006, the Asia-Pacific has been the world’s biggest oil-consuming region, led by industrial users South Korea and Japan along with rising powerhouses China and India.
Yet overbuilding of refineries and sluggish demand growth have caused a jump in fuel exports from these demand hubs.
Compounding the supply overhang, fuel exports from the Middle East, which BP data shows added more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity from 2013 to 2017, have doubled since 2014 to around 55 million tons, according to Refinitiv.
Car sales in China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, fell for the first time on record last year, and early 2019 sales also remain weak, suggesting a slowdown in gasoline demand.
For diesel, China National Petroleum Corp. in January said that it expected demand to fall by 1.1 percent in 2019. That would be China’s first annual demand decline for a major fuel since its industrial ascent started in 1990.
The surge in fuel exports combined with a 25 percent jump in crude oil prices so far this year has collapsed Singapore refinery margins, the Asian benchmark, from more than $11 per barrel in mid-2017 to just over $2.
Combine the slumping margins with labor costs and taxes and many Asian refineries now struggle to make money.
The squeezed margins have pummelled the stocks of most major Asian petroleum companies, such as Japan’s refiners JXTG Holdings Inc. or Idemitsu Kosan, South Korea’s top oil processor SK Innovation, Asia’s top oil refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Indian Oil Corp., with some companies dropping by about 40 percent over the past year. Jeff Brown, president of energy consultancy FGE, said the surge in exports and resulting oversupply were a “big problem” for the industry.
“The pressure on refinery margins is a case of death by a thousand cuts ... Refinery upgrades throughout the region are bumping up against softening demand growth,” he said.
The profit slump follows a surge in fuel exports from China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Refinitiv shipping data shows fuel exports from those countries have risen threefold since 2014, to a record of around 15 million tons in January.
The biggest jump in exports has come from China, where refiners are selling off record amounts of excess fuel into Asia.
“There is a risk for Asian market turmoil if (China’s fuel) export capacity remains at the current level or grows further,” said Noriaki Sakai, chief executive officer at Idemitsu Kosan during a news conference last week.
But Japanese and South Korean fuel exports have also risen as demand at home falls amid mature industry and a shrinking population. Japan’s 2019 oil demand will drop by 0.1 percent from 2018, while South Korea’s will remain flat, according to forecasts from Energy Aspects.
In Japan, oil imports have been falling steadily for years, yet its refiners produce more fuel than its industry can absorb. The situation is similar in South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest refiner by capacity, according to data from BP.
Cho Sang-bum, an official at the Korea Petroleum Association, which represents South Korean refiners, said the surging exports had “triggered a gasoline glut.”
That glut caused negative gasoline margins in January.