Supply shortfalls – from the Libyan civil war in 2011 and international sanctions on Iran in 2012 to a swathe of unplanned non-OPEC output stoppages – have buffeted the oil market, sending prices near 2008 highs and rekindling debate on the role of speculation in fuelling volatility. There have also been success stories. Growth in North American light, tight oil and non-conventional supply has reached game-changing levels. Iraqi production has scaled new heights, the Libyan production recovery in 2012 defied expectations and Saudi output surged to 30-year highs. On the demand front, the economic recovery has lost momentum. Market share continues to shift from mature to newly industrialised economies, but amid persistent concerns about the health of the former; China, the leading engine of oil demand growth of the last 15 years, is giving signs of slowdown.
Those developments have challenged earlier assumptions and significantly changed the oil market outlook for the next five years. The IEA Medium-Term Oil Market Report (MTOMR) – companion to the monthly OMR – draws their implications for the future. It provides detailed projections for oil supply at field level, crude quality trends, demand by product, refined product output and oil investments through 2017. It examines oil price formation, regulatory changes, OPEC dynamics and the future of spare capacity – while also reviewing the contribution of new supplies from deepwater, light tight oil, biofuel and natural gas liquids. It explores how market changes are reshaping the refining industry – and what that means for trade flows.
At a time of heightened economic and geopolitical risk, MTOMR is essential reading for anyone interested in oil market dynamics and in understanding the oil market context in which these risks are playing out.