IEA cuts oil demand forecast

Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Short Term Energy Outlook May 2018

"For now, the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape will move the attention away from stocks as producers and consumers consider how to limit volatility in the oil market", the agency stated. "Demand for oil has been revised downwards for the second half of the year from April", PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said.

So far this year, China has lived up to these expectations.

The bottleneck in North America likely contributed to a 4.9 million barrel rise in US crude oil inventories, to 435.6 million barrels, that the private American Petroleum Institute reported on Tuesday.

The data poses worries that near-record high refinery runs may be short-lived.

At the same time, China's domestic crude oil production has been languishing near June 2011 lows in the first quarter this year, prompting higher imports to meet growing demand.

Despite Wednesday's dips and some indicators implying the financial oil has overshot physical oil, overall crude market conditions have tightened since 2017 when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) started to withhold supplies to push up oil prices.

Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Short Term Energy Outlook May 2018
Source U.S. Energy Information Administration Short Term Energy Outlook May 2018

Analysts project that oil exports from Iran could be reduced by about 0.5 million barrels a day as South Korea and Japan trim their imports, said analysts for J.P. Morgan in a recent report. Refined oil product exports soared 46 percent on the year in April, but eased from the all-time high in March.

On the supply side, Iran's impact on the global oil market has yet to be quantified or seen.

Now the United States has announced it will impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, raising fears that markets will face shortages later this year when trade restrictions come into effect.

"In these early days, there is understandable uncertainty about (the) potential impact on Iran's oil exports" from the U.S. move, it said. Although the group said its crude output inched up in the previous month, investors interpreted the minimal increase as a sign of OPEC's continued commitment to rebalancing the market, especially from its de facto leader Saudi Arabia.

Another possible risk to the global oil supply could come from crisis-hit Venezuela, the IEA said.

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