The oil market will be transformed: International Energy Agency

International Energy Agency

Short-term changes to the North American oil market will be "transformative" due to a lot more oil being produced and more refineries coming online in developing countries, according to a report by the International Energy Agency released May 14.

The IEA predicts global refining capacity will surge by 9.5 mb/d, led by China and the Middle East, a change that will lead to big changes in shipping and logistics.

With so much refinery capacity coming online, margins at OECD refineries will face significant margin pressure.

Non-OECD economies already account for a clear majority of global crude distillation capacity, but their share of the refining market is set to rise steeply in the next five years following large increments in the Middle East, Asia, Russia and Latin America. China, in particular, may become saddled with significant excess product output, following ambitious expansion plans at both state-owned refineries and socalled ‘tea-pot’ plants, a sector increasingly restructured and made more efficient in recent years. Saudi Arabia is also aggressively expanding downstream through large-scale joint ventures with international companies. As global refining capacity expansions outpace upstream supply growth, let alone demand growth, margins and utilisation rates will come under pressure and higher-cost refineries will face increasingly strong competitive headwinds. European refineries are at particularly high risk of closure over the forecast period.

Developing countries that have relied on oil wealth to get shore up weak governance will be in for a shock. The study says that ". . . the technologies responsible for the boom will increase production from mature, conventional fields – causing companies to reconsider investments in higher-risk areas."

Over the next five-years, the new technologies that made mature fields in the US productive again will still lag in the rest of the world as the technology and infrastructure slowly spreads out.

The release of the report caused a barrel of oil dropped below $95 a barrel. Crude oil contracts in New York hit $94.72 on Tuesday.

Crude contracts flows shift

Slide from IEA showing a decline in crude oil exports to North America.

Creative commons image oil pumping station in Nebraska by shannonpatrick17