Developments this week

The oil prices continue to be tied to the financial situation which recently has been outweighing oil market fundamentals. The week started with oil prices falling as news of the EU’s various debt crises became more pessimistic thereby driving down the euro, taking oil with it. Oil recovered a bit on Tuesday and then entered a volatile day on Wednesday. The day started with oil falling on more bad economic news and an API estimate that US crude stocks had increased by 2.5 million barrels last week. When the EIA came out with a 7.3 million barrel drop in US crude stocks to an eight-month low, prices jumped a dollar or two a barrel. This lasted for a few hours until the Federal Reserve announced its newest plan to buy $400 billion of long-term securities. The Fed also noted “continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions.” After a few minutes reflection the equity markets fell, taking oil with them. NY oil closed down a dollar at $85.92 and Brent at $110.36.

The 10 million barrel difference between the API’s estimate of US crude stocks and the result of the EIA’s weekly survey is striking. The drop in the US commercial oil inventories of 5.3 million barrels last week is a reminder that Libyan oil is not back in production and that the IEA believes the world is drawing down stockpiles.

Violent protests in Columbia have shut-in 25,000 b/d of oil production.

The Conference Board said that its leading indicator for China rose in July after increasing in May and June, suggesting that Beijing’s economy may be doing better than most say.

EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2011

This week the US Department of Energy’s EIA released its International Energy Outlook 2011. As the Administration says upfront, this is a reference case that really does not allow for much in the way of changes in the next 25 years. After touching on some passing issues such as growing economic turmoil the OECD, Arab uprisings, and rapid increases in oil prices due to shortages, IEO2011 goes on to project another 25 years of business as usual with a touch of obeisance to the obvious changes that are going on.

Global energy consumption is to increase by 53 percent by 2035 a lot like it did in the last 25 years. As one could expect the OECD countries only increase their energy consumption by 18 percent while the rest increase by 85 percent. Liquid fuels will get to 112 million b/d by 2035, but most of the increase will not be conventional oil. Liquid fuels are to slip from 34 to 29 percent of energy consumption. There will be lots of natural gas – especially from shale — with consumption rising from 111 trillion cubic feet to 169 trillion. US natural gas production is to double from 10.9 trillion cubic feet to 19.8 trillion. Coal consumption in Asia will double and remain flat elsewhere. Electricity consumption will be up by 84 percent thanks to lots of natural gas, coal, and new nuclear plants everywhere but in the OECD. Carbon dioxide emissions will be up by 43 percent but on a per capita basis it won’t be so bad.

If the EIA in Washington is talking about the same world as the IEA in Paris, it sure is hard to discern it.