Oil Futures Fall as Energy Agencies Look into the Crystal Ball

Offshore drill rig
Offshore drill rig

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) released its oil market report for June yesterday, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) followed suit this morning. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) kicks out its weekly oil status report later this morning.

OPEC did not change its forecast for global demand growth of 800,000 barrels a day to a total of 89.7 million barrels a day. The cartel also left its forecast for demand on OPEC crude at 29.8 million barrels a day, down 400,000 barrels a day from average daily demand in 2012.

The IEA has global demand growing by 785,000 barrels a day in 2013 and supplies rising to a total of 91.2 million barrels a day, which is 90,000 barrels a day below last month's estimate.

OPEC is feeling a pinch from the supply growth from non-OPEC producers. Last year, the cartel estimates, non-OPEC supplies grew by 500,000 barrels a day. Growth this year is forecast by the cartel at 1 million barrels a day.

The cartel's problem is that it cannot cut production. OPEC production in May came in at 30.57 million barrels a day, up more than 100,000 barrels a day over April. One result is that the price of OPEC oil, particularly from the Middle East, is falling. Another result is that global crude stockpiles are growing.

The IEA said that global stockpiles rose by 16.7 million barrels in April to a world total of 2.68 billion barrels.

The EIA likely will report a build to U.S. stockpiles, following last night's announcement from the American Petroleum Institute that inventories rose by 9 million barrels in the past week. Analysts surveyed by Platts expect inventories to be flat with a week ago. U.S. stockpiles are well above their five-year averages.

At some point, the stockpiles must be shed. When that happens, crude prices have to fall. The "when" is the crucial thing, and that is nearly impossible to predict.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures are down 0.6% this morning, at $94.77 a barrel, and Brent futures are also trading lower by 0.4% at $102.52 a barrel. Crude close lower yesterday, and barring a surprise drop in U.S. inventories today, crude prices will close lower again today.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Commodities, Oil & Gas, Research

Originally published