When the chief executive of Aramco said earlier this week that years of underinvestment had damaged the balance between supply and demand in the oil market, it should have been a wake-up call to those in decision-making positions. Instead, the secretary-general of the UN bashed the oil industry once again for “feasting” on record-high profits and urged governments to make them pay for this.
Meanwhile, OPEC’s production shortfall last month reached 3.58 million bpd—a figure equal to some 3.5 percent of global demand—and the United States continued to sell oil from its strategic petroleum reserve.
These seemingly unrelated news reports do have something very important in common. Both clearly suggest a supply shortfall on a global level is imminent. Throw in the news that Russia’s oil exports could fall by some 2.4 million bpd after the EU embargo enters into effect in December, and an oil shortage becomes more or less unavoidable.
Oil demand has remained resilient in the face of a multitude of challenges, and even prices of over $100 per barrel failed to curb it in any significant way earlier this year. Now, prices are somewhat tempered, but the embargo is still about two months away. Once this kicks in, prices are bound to jump because alternative supply is limited. And the U.S. will need to start refilling its SPR at some point because it is getting depleted.
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