If anyone thought the latest oil market outlooks of the EIA and the IEA are upbeat, here’s an even more upbeat one from Energy Aspects: The consultancy expects crude demand this year to grow by 1.7 million bpd, and says Brent could touch above $100 a barrel in 2019. According to Energy Aspects, the reason for the further jump in prices will be a drop in new production outside the U.S. shale patch. It’s a little hard to buy that, however, if one remembers that there is 1.8 million bpd in production capacity ready to be tapped again once OEPC and Russia taper their production cuts. That alone should take care of the demand growth that the consultancy predicts for this year. That is, unless it booms by 2 million bpd, which is the top of the range forecast by Energy Aspects. But even then, the U.S. and Russia alone could take care of it: The Russian state majors are itching to expand production in eastern Siberia.
Of course, the likelihood of OPEC and Russia bringing all that production online is highly debatable, as the partners in the cut deal seem still determined to continue with the original plan. Nevertheless, the barrels are there, so there’s no urgent need for actual new production yet. However, if global demand grows so much so quickly, does anyone have any doubts that the new, expanded oil cartel will be flexible enough to make the best of the situation? Hardly. So how likely is this demand growth? According to Energy Aspects, there is currently “no real drag on demand growth.” The global economy is in growth mode, which lends strong support to the price momentum, and the short-term forecasts for the top consumers of crude oil are all bullish. Yet, there’s one potential drag: prices.