‘Pressures on oil price easing’

Vienna, October 12

Market pressures that slashed the price of oil to below $50 per barrel appear to be easing, the OPEC oil cartel said today, tweaking upwards its 2015 forecast for crude demand.

“Fundamentals factors (of supply and demand) that have weighed on the market for more than a year have persisted, but are starting to show signs of alleviation,” the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said in its October monthly report.

It hiked its forecast for global demand for oil this year to 92.86 million barrels per day (mbpd), up from 92.79 mbpd previously, rising to 94.11 mbpd in 2016, down 40,000 barrels per day from its last projection.

OPEC also cut its forecast for oil production by non-members of the group, notably in the Americas, to 57.24 mbpd from 57.43 mbpd, predicting that it will dip to 57.11 mbpd next year.

This is partly a result of OPEC’s strategy — driven by kingpin Saudi Arabia — of keeping production levels unchanged, despite the lower oil price, in order to preserve market share and make life difficult for US shale oil producers.

“While the increase in non-OPEC supply last year was more than twice that of global oil demand growth, this relationship is expected to flip this year before widening further in 2016 so that world oil demand growth exceeds the change in non-OPEC supply,” OPEC said.

“This should reduce the excess supply in the market and lead to higher demand for OPEC crude.”

Oil rose above $50 a barrel in New York on October 8, extending a rally since hitting six-year lows in late August.

Today, both main contracts held close to that level, boosted by a weaker dollar and expectations that a rise in demand will ease a global supply glut.

Comments by OPEC Secretary General Abdullah el-Badri at the weekend that the cartel sees a ‘more balanced’ oil market next year also helped.