U.S. oil production driven by fracking technology is adding to a glut of supply that tipped prices into a downward spiral starting last June, conclude recent reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and others.
Since its June high of just over $107 a barrel, WTI, the US benchmark, has dropped 56 percent.
The fallout is already being felt by America’s oil and gas industry, where reports indicate equity raisings are running at their strongest rate on record as producers seek fresh funds to cope with pressures exerted by a lower oil price.
The volume of equity fundraisings stands at $13.2 billion so far this year, according to Dealogic, almost double last year when WTI spent most of the first quarter trading between $90 and $100 a barrel.
Having bottomed?out in the second quarter of 2014, global oil demand growth has since steadily risen, with year?on?year gains estimated at around 0.9 million barrels per day (mb/d) for the final quarter of last year and 1.0 mb/d for the current quarter, says the IEA Oil Market Report for March.
According to a blog posted by Geoffrey Styles at the website, The Energy Collective, the IEA analysis in recent months is useful.
"First and foremost, it recognizes that the factors contributing to this price correction bear little resemblance to the price drops of 1998 and 2008, and share only a few common threads with the big correction of 1986, chiefly involving OPEC’s behavior," says Styles. "The biggest differences relate to the nature of the North American shale sector, which drove strong non-OPEC supply growth for the last several years, and the economic and policy factors — slowing growth in China, subsidy phase-outs, and currency depreciation — likely to dampen the global demand response to cheaper oil."
Per the March report, OPEC crude output edged down by 90 kb/d in February to 30.22 mb/d, as losses in Libya and Iraq offset higher supply from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Angola. The slightly higher demand forecast has raised the “call” on OPEC crude for the second half of 2015 to 30.3 mb/d, above the group’s official 30 mb/d target, says the IEA.
As for OPEC, says Styles, "its production growth through 2020 seems to come down to a single country. The report assesses the current situation in Iraq and concludes that despite the threat from the Islamic State and the country’s ongoing internal frictions, output should continue to grow by another million bbl/day or so."
With regard to shale, the IEA suggests that current pressures on the US oil industry will prove temporary, says Styles. The agency seems to expect the growth of unconventional production from both shale and oil sands to slow but remain the largest source of non-OPEC supply increases through 2020, outstripping increases in OPEC’s capacity and offsetting declines elsewhere.