Supply constraints propel the price of a barrel of oil to its highest level in ten months

Here and there, in September, the barrel of oil has already gone back above the 100 dollar mark (around 94 euros, according to the current exchange rate). First for the price of crude oil in Malaysia, then for that in Nigeria. In Europe, North Sea brent exceeded $95 (for delivery in November) on Tuesday September 19, before closing the week at $93 three days later. A level he had not reached for ten months. In a climate of generalized inflation, it keeps consumer countries and their motorists under pressure.

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The tension on the price reflects the concerns of the moment, linked to a voluntary drop in supply. Leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi Arabia will restrict its production quota at least until the end of 2023. Russia, still in the middle of war on Ukrainian soil, will do the same . This represents 1 million barrels per day (mbd) less on the Saudi side and 300,000 on the Russian side, as the two countries announced in September. Plenty of what “trigger a price spike”notes the International Energy Agency (IEA), despite a lull in August.

From a business perspective, “solidarity seems to be maintained” between these main exporters, underlines Olivier Appert, advisor at the Energy and Climate Center of the French Institute of International Relations. Their informal alliance, called “OPEC +”, brings together twenty-three member states. It had agitated the market in April, when it was already a question of announcing a reduction in production. At that time, several countries had followed the Saudi-Russian duo, namely the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, Algeria, Kazakhstan and Gabon.

Oil stocks already put to use

However, demand continues to grow. It is even heading towards an annual record in 2023, with 101.8 mbd on average, according to IEA projections, updated in September. This surplus is primarily due to China’s appetite, despite the slowdown of its economy. More broadly, it is also explained by the use of kerosene for aviation and by the use of oil for petrochemicals as a raw material.

So that “the imbalance between oil supply and demand in the third quarter reached 1.6 million barrels per day, its highest level since 2021”, summarizes the French Institute of Petroleum and New Energies (Ifpen), in an economic report published Monday September 18. Between falling production and increasing needs, there could be a shortage of 1.1 million barrels per day on average in the fourth quarter, estimates the IEA. Or even 2.7 million, according to OPEC… where the American Energy Information Agency is rather counting on a deficit of 200,000.

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