Wednesday, February 9, 2011

US revises up Saudi output; sees more non-OPEC oil

WASHINGTON: The U.S. government's energy forecaster on Tuesday, Feb 8 revised up its estimate for global oil demand this year, but also said more crude from major non-OPEC oil producing countries will help meet higher consumption.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration also said top oil exporter and de facto OPEC leader Saudi Arabia pumped about 100,000 barrels per day more crude than earlier estimated during November and December due to higher power usage.

At 8.6 million bpd, the EIA's estimate of Saudi production was in line with last month's forecast from the Paris-based International Energy Agency, which said that the kingdom had quietly raised production to help cool oil prices.

Saudi customers and some analysts say they haven't seen the same rise in shipments, spurring a debate over whether or not the Kingdom is opening the taps in order to put a damper on oil prices that have topped $100 a barrel for the first time since 2008. It may be that the extra oil is being kept at home.

"Industry analysts have noticed an increase in Saudi Arabia's direct burn of crude oil for power generation," said Erik Kreil, an EIA analyst.

Saudi Arabia often burns crude oil or residual fuel to generate power in order to meet growing domestic electricity demand, although such usage normally peaks during the hotter summer months when air conditioning use peaks.

"This really has been the unsung story of global oil demand. We have seen Mideast demand rise over recent years but it has been overshadowed by growth in the emerging markets," said Phil Flynn, energy analyst at PFG Best in Chicago.

The IEA, which advises the United States and 27 other industrialized countries on energy policy, releases its new monthly energy forecast on Thursday. OPEC does as well.


Additional supply will be needed as the EIA said the world will consume about 140,000 bpd more oil than it had forecast just last month due to a higher 2009 baseline, with demand now expected at a record 88.16 million bpd. The agency made only a marginal adjustment in its growth forecast for this year.

Global oil use jumps another 1.9 percent next year to 89.79 million bpd, the agency said.

Higher oil demand reflects the strong recovery of the global economy, which is expected to grow 3.9 percent this year and 4 percent next year, the EIA said.

Non-OPEC oil production is forecast to increase by 310,000 bpd this year, with most of that output coming from China and Brazil.

Strong global oil demand will also cut into the petroleum inventories held by the industrialized nations, with oil stocks expected to decline by 115 million barrels over the next two years to the middle of their five-year average range by the end of 2012, the EIA said. - Reuters

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