Oil demand growth seen slowing for a second year

US shale oil producers are ramping up output denting OPEC's efforts to fight a global supply glutMore

The latest widely read monthly report from the International Energy Agency forecasts that demand for oil supplies will fall below demand in the second half of the year which should help drain the glut of oil stocks and bring an end to the nearly three year market downturn.

The global oil market is very close to coming into balance, however, weaker demand growth and the strong USA production pose challenges to OPEC's attempt to cut supplies.

The rebound in US oil output has threatened to derail efforts by the world's largest exporters aimed at reducing a global supply glut and rebalancing the market.

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Reports this week said that OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia is pushing the cartel's producers to extend the agreement by another six months at their meeting in May.

Futures gained 1.7 per cent for the week as the agency said that, despite OPEC's near-perfect implementation of the curbs it agreed to with Russian Federation and other allies, stockpiles edged higher because of supply increases the countries made before the deal took effect on January 1. In the first quarter, global oil demand growth came in 20 percent lower than it had expected.

"Although the oil market will likely tighten throughout the year, overall non-OPEC production, not just in the USA, will soon be on the rise again", the IEA said.


It projected oil demand of 1.3 million barrels a day this year, down by about 100,000 barrels a day from its previous forecast.

The IEA made no prediction about such a likelihood, but said that a outcome of OPEC "hypothetically" renewing the deal would be to support prices more and give further encouragement to United States shale oil producers.

"Global stocks will draw further if Opec maintains solid adherence", the IEA said.

OPEC agreed to slash the output by 1.2 million barrels per day from January 1, with top exporter Saudi Arabia cutting as much as 486,000 barrels per day.

OECD stocks are still 330 million barrels higher than the five-year average, but "it can be argued confidently that the market is already very close to balance", the IEA said.

Also, the 60- to 70-day lag between exports leaving the Arabian Gulf and arriving in major markets means the extent of OPEC supply cuts has yet to bite.

The IEA said it raised its second-quarter demand forecast but cut for the second half of the year.

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