Rebounding economic activity and natural gas shortages recently pushed the developed world’s oil reserves to their lowest since early 2015, but growing crude supply could soon ease that pressure, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.
In its closely watched monthly market report, the IEA said that the tight supply and demand balance in the global oil market could be about to ease. It expects output to rise by 1.5 million barrels a day in the remainder of 2021, with the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia accounting for around half of that amount.
Oil prices were little changed Tuesday after the IEA became the second forecasting body—following the Energy Information Administration—to predict a looser market in the months to come. Brent crude, the global benchmark, ended the day up 0.5% at $82.43 a barrel and U.S. crude futures ticked down 0.1% to $80.76 a barrel.
Those dynamics have seen wealthy countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development use the supply gluts they built up during lockdowns and then some—their stocks haven’t been this low in almost seven years. Now, though, “preliminary data and satellite observations of stock changes in October suggest the tide might be turning,” the IEA said.
The watchdog expects oil production to continue increasing after the end of 2021 as well, raising its 2022 forecast by 100,000 barrels a day to 1.9 million barrels a day. A combination of rising output from the Gulf of Mexico, where supply was severely affected by Hurricane Ida earlier in 2021, and fewer overall outages—the pandemic has meant more downtime and affected maintenance schedules—will drive that increase, the IEA’s report said.
The report said rising output, particularly from the U.S.—which the IEA expects to account for 60% of the non-OPEC+ supply increase—will go some way to meet rising demand, with vaccination campaigns allowing travel to continue to rebound, driving exceptional strength in gasoline demand and setting jet-fuel demand on a course to reach around 80% of 2019 levels by the end of next year.