The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a report asserting that the supply shock created by a surge in North American oil production will be as transformative to the market over the next five years as was the rise of Chinese demand over the last 15. The IEA made the claim in its annual Medium-Term Oil Market Report (MTOMR). The shift will not only cause oil companies to overhaul their global investment strategies, but also reshape the way oil is transported, stored and refined.
According to the MTOMR, the effects of continued growth in North American supply – led by US light, tight oil (LTO) and Canadian oil sands – will cascade through the global oil market. Although shale oil development outside North America may not be a large-scale reality during the report’s five-year timeframe, the technologies responsible for the boom will increase production from mature, conventional fields – causing companies to reconsider investments in higher-risk areas.
In virtually every other aspect of the market, developing economies are in the driver’s seat. This quarter, for the first time, non-OECD economies will overtake OECD nations in oil demand. At the same time, massive refinery capacity increases in non-OECD economies are accelerating a broad restructuring of the global refining industry and oil trading patterns. European refiners will see no let-up from the squeeze caused by increasing US product exports and the new Asian and Middle Eastern refining titans.
“North America has set off a supply shock that is sending ripples throughout the world,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, who launched the report at the Platts Crude Oil Summit in London. “The good news is that this is helping to ease a market that was relatively tight for several years. The technology that unlocked the bonanza in places like North Dakota can and will be applied elsewhere, potentially leading to a broad reassessment of reserves. But as companies rethink their strategies, and as emerging economies become the leading players in the refining and demand sectors, not everyone will be a winner.”
While geopolitical risks abound, market fundamentals suggest a more comfortable global oil supply/demand balance over the next five years. The MTOMR forecasts North American supply to grow by 3.9 million barrels per day (mb/d) from 2012 to 2018, or nearly two-thirds of total forecast non-OPEC supply growth of 6 mb/d. World liquid production capacity is expected to grow by 8.4 mb/d – significantly faster than demand – which is projected to expand by 6.9 mb/d. Global refining capacity will post even steeper growth, surging by 9.5 mb/d, led by China and the Middle East. Click here for the full report.