About this report

Oil 2019, the annual IEA outlook for global oil markets, examines the key issues in demand, supply, refining and trade to 2024. This year, the report covers the following themes: a changed supply picture led by the rise of the United States in world markets thanks to rapidly-growing shale oil production, as it becomes a net exporter of crude oil and products; supply growth in the non-OPEC world, including Brazil, Canada, Norway and Guyana; and a falling capacity for the OPEC producers; demand growth underpinned by the People’s Republic of China and India and by the growing importance of petrochemicals as the industry invests to meet rising consumer demand; and a detailed analysis of how the refining industry is grappling with the International Maritime Organisation’s new marine fuel rules, growing excess capacity, and the changing patterns of global oil trade.

The United States will lead oil-supply growth over the next six years, thanks to the incredible strength of its shale industry, triggering a rapid transformation of global oil markets. By 2024, the United States will export more oil than Russia and will close in on Saudi Arabia – a pivotal milestone that will bring greater diversity of supply in markets.

Meanwhile product markets are on the eve of one of the biggest shakeups ever seen, with the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation’s new rules governing bunker fuel quality in 2020. Although the shipping and refining industries have had several years notice, there have been fears of shortfalls when the rules come into effect.

Key findings

US shale powers global oil market transformation

The incredible growth in US shale, from next to nothing in 2010 to more than 7 mb/d at the start of this year, is transforming global oil markets. 

This is happening because US shale is able to respond to price signals more swiftly than other sources of supply - in fact even more US supply could be on the way if prices rise beyond where they are today.

US shale oil prospects, 2010-2024


US gross exports overtake Russia and close in on Saudi Arabia

The ability of the US to turn itself into a major exporter in less than a decade is unprecedented. By 2024, US oil exports will overtake Russia and close in on Saudi Arabia. This brings greater diversity of supply to markets.

Oil gross exports for selected countries, 2012-2024


Supply growth is supported by several countries

The US is joined by Brazil, Iraq, Norway, the UAE and Guyana as the biggest sources of supply growth.

Iran and Venezuela are forecast to post the deepest losses, though the outlook could change dramatically depending on political factors.

Change in total oil supply for selected countries, 2018-2024


Upstream investment rises for third straight year

Such a strong build up of supply will require substantial investment and for a third consecutive year, upstream investment is set to rise. Following higher than expected spending last year, global upstream capex for oil and gas is set to increase by 4% in 2019.

Global oil and gas upstream capital spending, 2014-2019


World oil demand growth eases

World oil demand growth remains solid, although the pace of growth is slowing. China’s growth slows while India’s demand remains robust, and by 2024 we forecast that India’s annual volume growth will equal China’s.

Demand in the Rest of the world growth is dominated by petrochemical projects, mainly in the US, which benefits from cheaper feedstock as a consequence of the shale revolution.

World oil demand growth, 2018-2024


IMO 2020 triggers a massive products shake-up

One of the biggest shake-ups in the product markets is right around the corner — the IMO 2020 regulation bans high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) from the bunker pool. Although the shipping and refining industries have been preparing for the new rules for several years, there have been fears of shortfalls when the rules come into effect.

Indeed, the bunker fuel demand landscape will change dramatically in 2020. Demand for HSFO, the main vessel fuel since the 1960’s, will fall from 3.5 mb/d to 1.4 mb/d in just one year. We also estimate that there will be 4 000 scrubbers installed on large vessels by the end of 2020, consuming 700 kb/d of fuel oil.

Many shipping companies will prefer to use marine gasoil (MGO) instead of a new very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO), despite its higher price. The quantity of VLSFO produced will initially be limited to 1 mb/d because of reduced availability of low sulphur blending materials. Some shipping companies may also be reluctant to adopt a new fuel immediately, and would prefer to use MGO until they have confidence that VLSFO will be easily available in ports and stable and compatible with similar grades.

While there is no doubt that this transformation will be a challenge, it will be manageable over time. Orders for scrubbers to be fitted on ships have increased, and as demand for high sulphur fuel oil plummets there will be enough marine gasoil as well as new ultra-low sulphur fuel oil available to fill the gap.

Marine bunkers product demand, 2015-2024


US shale in a post-IMO and petrochemicals world

The US shale revolution is also altering the picture for refiners.

These barrels are generally lighter than the average crude barrel, which means they require less complex refining processes to turn them into final products.

Global refined product barrel vs. crude barrel - API gravity


Sulphur is another key issue. An average product barrel is allowed to contain only 0.34% of sulphur, and this percentage will fall even more with the IMO regulations, to 0.24%. However an average crude barrel contains 1.2% sulphur, requiring refiners to use a lot of natural gas to produce hydrogen to use in desulphurisation operations — a costly and CO2 intensive process.

Shale crudes, on the other hand, have a significantly lower sulphur content, requiring less costly operations.

Global refined product barrel vs. crude barrel - sulphur content