Oil Market Report

Data, forecasts and analysis on the global oil market

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The IEA Oil Market Report (OMR) is one of the world's most authoritative and timely sources of data, forecasts and analysis on the global oil market – including detailed statistics and commentary on oil supply, demand, inventories, prices and refining activity, as well as oil trade for IEA and selected non-IEA countries.


Oil Market Report: 12 July 2019

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Highlights

  • Global demand growth is set to accelerate from an exceptionally weak 310 kb/d in 1Q19 and 800 kb/d in 2Q19 to reach 1.8 mb/d in the second half of the year as economic activity improves and petrochemical plants ramp up. For 2020, the pace of growth will average 1.4 mb/d compared to 1.2 mb/d this year.
  • Our balances show the potential for oversupply next year, with a 2.1 mb/d expansion of non-OPEC supply, led by the US, versus 2 mb/d in 2019. That will lower the requirement for OPEC crude, with the call on OPEC plunging to 28 mb/d in 1Q20. OPEC has not produced at such a low level since 3Q03.
  • Global refining throughput in 2Q19 dropped 0.7 mb/d y-o-y, the largest annual decline in 10 years. Our estimate for 2019 growth is revised down to 300 kb/d, but refined products stocks build nevertheless. East of Suez refiners are more exposed to products oversupply, while Atlantic Basin runs have fallen back to 2014 levels.
  • OECD commercial stocks increased by 22.8 mb in May to 2 906 mb, and stood 6.7 mb above the five-year average. Preliminary data for June show inventories falling in the US and Japan whereas stocks increased in Europe.
  • Concerns that global oil demand is slowing caused ICE Brent to decline by 10% in June, despite supportive geopolitical factors. Gasoline cracks picked up following a refinery fire on the US Atlantic Coast.

Re-balancing slows down

The main message of this Report is that in 1H19 oil supply has exceeded demand by 0.9 mb/d. Our latest data show a global surplus in 2Q19 of 0.5 mb/d versus previous expectations of a 0.5 mb/d deficit. This surplus adds to the huge stock builds seen in the second half of 2018 when oil production surged just as demand growth started to falter. Clearly, market tightness is not an issue for the time being and any re-balancing seems to have moved further into the future.

In the meantime, the widely-anticipated decision by OPEC+ ministers to extend their output agreement to March 2020 provides guidance but it does not change the fundamental outlook of an oversupplied market. On our balances, assuming constant OPEC output at the current level of around 30 mb/d, by the end of 1Q20 stocks could increase by a net 136 mb. The call on OPEC crude in early 2020 could fall to only 28 mb/d.

Clearly, this presents a major challenge to those who have taken on the task of market management. The picture will evolve as 2019 progresses, but in the near term the main area of focus remains demand growth. While the GDP estimates behind our forecast are unchanged from last month's Report, there are indications of deteriorating trade and manufacturing activity. Recent data show that global manufacturing output in 2Q19 fell for the first time since late 2012 and new orders have declined at a fast pace. On the positive side, the mood surrounding the US/China trade dispute appears to have improved and the resolution of outstanding issues would be a massive boost to economic confidence.

The outlook for oil demand growth in 2019 is little changed from our last Report at 1.2 mb/d. On the basis that the economic outlook in 2020 is better, there will be a rebound to 1.4 mb/d. This is despite the fact that we have downgraded our estimate for global oil demand growth in 2Q19 by 0.45 mb/d. There are many reasons for this: European demand is sluggish; growth in India vanished in April and May due to a slowdown in LPG deliveries and weakness in the aviation sector; and in the US demand for both gasoline and diesel in the first half of 2019 is lower year-on-year. Unless the economic backdrop and the trade disputes worsen, global growth is nevertheless expected to be higher in 2H19. There will be support from oil prices, which, if they stay roughly where they are today, will be about 8% below the levels seen last year.

Geopolitical tensions remain high in the Middle East Gulf and we recently saw the the interception of an Iranian tanker in the Mediterranean. Even so, the oil price impact has been minimal with no real security of supply premium. This is not the case for shipping costs with reports of Gulf insurance rates rising sharply. For now, maritime operations in the region are close to normal and markets remain calm due to economic weakness, high oil stocks and a significant spare production capacity cushion. As always, the IEA continues to closely monitor the security of supply situation and is in regular contact with its members and partners.