OPEC wary of 2019 surplus as stocks rebuild

Oil prices have rallied this year, with markets expecting US sanctions on Iran to hit supplies by lowering shipments from OPEC’s third-largest oil producer. (Shutterstock)
Updated 11 October 2018
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OPEC wary of 2019 surplus as stocks rebuild

  • OPEC separately updated its oil supply and demand forecasts
  • Trump has demanded that OPEC cool prices by pumping more oil

LONDON: OPEC sees the oil market as well supplied and is wary of creating a glut next year, the group’s secretary-general said on Thursday, suggesting producers are in no rush to expand a June agreement that raises output.
Oil prices have rallied this year on expectations that US sanctions on Iran will strain supplies by lowering shipments from OPEC’s third-largest oil producer. Brent crude last week reached $86.74, the highest since 2014.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, speaking at the Oil & Money conference in London, said there were many non-fundamental factors influencing the oil market that were beyond oil producers’ control.
“The market has been reacting to perceptions of a possible supply shortage. The market remains well supplied,” he told a briefing.
“The projections for 2019 clearly show a possible rebuild of stocks,” he said of the supply and demand balance for next year.
OPEC yesterday separately updated its oil supply and demand forecasts, cutting demand estimates for next year due to economic challenges such as trade disputes and volatile emerging markets, and pointing to excess supply.
One of the factors boosting prices, according to analysts and some members of OPEC, has been the decision by US President Donald Trump to reimpose sanctions on Iran.
Trump has demanded that OPEC cool prices by pumping more oil. Barkindo, asked whether Trump’s criticism of OPEC was unfair, said: “The market is currently being largely driven by decisions taken elsewhere — outside OPEC, outside non-OPEC.”
OPEC and allied producers — not including the US — agreed in June to return to 100 percent compliance with output cuts that began in January 2017, after months of underproduction in Venezuela and elsewhere pushed adherence above 160 percent.
OPEC’s report said its own production rose by 132,000 barrels per day in September to 32.76 million bpd, the highest this year, although producers have yet to increase supply enough to reach 100 percent compliance.
Barkindo, responding to a question whether producers needed to go beyond full delivery of the agreement, said they were taking it step by step.
“We have to continue to assess to see how and when we will achieve the 100 percent conformity and how the market would respond, hoping that some of these non-fundamental factors will evaporate by then,” he said.
“We remain faithful to what we agreed in June.”
OPEC and its allies hold their next meeting in December to decide policy for next year.
In the report released yesterday, OPEC cut the estimate for demand in 2019 for its own crude to 31.8 million bpd because of weaker demand and rising supplies outside the group.
Should OPEC keep pumping at September’s rate, the report points to an excess supply of almost 1 million bpd in 2019 — although this is before any sizeable reduction takes place in Iranian output.
Iran pumped 3.45 million bpd in September, according to figures in the report, down 150,000 bpd from August. Production dropped below 2.7 million bpd under previous sanctions that were lifted following the 2015 nuclear deal.
Barkindo said oil producers were worried about their levels of spare output capacity, which reduces their ability to make up for sudden supply shortages, amid a reduction in energy-industry investment.
“We are very concerned,” Barkindo said when asked about spare capacity, citing a continued decline in oil industry investment resulting from a market downturn that began in 2014.
Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer with significant spare capacity on hand to supply the market if needed.
The Kingdom will invest $20 billion over the next few years to maintain and possibly even expand its spare oil production capacity, Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said this month.


Iran falls to sixth biggest oil supplier to India as sanctions bite

Updated 34 min 51 sec ago
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Iran falls to sixth biggest oil supplier to India as sanctions bite

  • Tehran dropped two places to become only the sixth biggest supplier after New Delhi cut purchases due to the impact of US sanctions
  • The UAE, which was the sixth biggest oil seller to India in October, became the third-top seller to India in November

NEW DELHI: India’s monthly oil imports from Iran plunged to their lowest in a year in November with Tehran dropping two places to become only the sixth biggest supplier after New Delhi cut purchases due to the impact of US sanctions, according to ship tracking data and industry sources.
Last month, the US introduced tough sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s oil revenue-dependent economy. Washington did, though, give a six-month waiver from sanctions to eight nations, including India, and allowed them to import some Iranian oil.
India is restricted to buying 1.25 million tons per month, or about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd).
In November, India imported about 276,000 bpd of Iranian oil, a decline of about 41 percent from October and about 4 percent more than the year-ago month, ship tracking data obtained from shipping and trade sources showed.
After abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump is trying to force Tehran to quash not only its nuclear ambitions and its ballistic missile program but its support for militant proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.
India’s imports from Iran in November, included some parcels that were loaded in October. In November, Iraq and Saudi Arabia continued to be the top-two oil sellers to India.
The UAE, which was the sixth biggest oil seller to India in October, became the third-top seller to India in November, knocking down Venezuela to fourth position.