Oil supply surge could risk price collapse - Harvard analysis

WASHINGTON Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:07am IST

Gas pumps are seen at a petrol station in Prague May 10, 2012. REUTERS/David W Cerny/Files

Gas pumps are seen at a petrol station in Prague May 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/David W Cerny/Files

Related Topics


Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global oil supplies are growing so fast that they could outstrip demand and lead to a collapse in world prices, a former energy executive who is now a Harvard research fellow said on Tuesday.

"Most analyses today are still marked by this obsession with oil running out," Leonardo Maugeri, formerly a senior manager at Italy-based oil and gas giant Eni SpA (ENI.MI), said at a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

In analyzing capacity at more than 1,000 oil fields around the world, he found that depletion of oil supplies was occurring "much more slowly and gently than expected."

He estimated that world oil production capacity could go up by 17.6 million barrels per day between now and 2020.

"Contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption," he wrote in his analysis, published as a policy brief by Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. "This could lead to a glut of overproduction and a steep dip in prices."

Production capacity is expected to grow the most in Iraq, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Venezuela, while it could decline in Norway, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Iran, his analysis found.

Much of the surge in U.S. capacity is due to the boom in shale oil.

Unless oil demand grows at a sustained yearly rate of 1.6 percent -- compared with a bit less than 1 percent now -- overproduction and price collapse are possible, Maugeri said.

Global oil output capacity is likely to grow from 93 million barrels per day currently to 110 million bpd by 2020. If oil prices stay above $70 a barrel, the increase in capacity can be sustained, according to the analysis.

"However, world demand is sluggish due to the lagging economy and focus on energy efficiency," Maugeri wrote. "If these trends continue, we could see a significant dip -- or even a temporary collapse -- of oil prices."

The boom in so-called unconventional oil, like that derived from hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas locked in underground shale formations, must trigger environmental action, he wrote.

"Without this balance between industry and environmental interests," the analysis said, "new oil production projects will be stymied or delayed."

(Reporting by Deborah Zabarenko; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared


Monsoon Forecast

Monsoon Forecast

South Asia monsoon seen below-average to average in 2014 - WMO.  Full Article 

Solar Dispute

Solar Dispute

Green groups urge U.S. to drop solar trade case against India.  Full Article 

Oil Imports

Oil Imports

India to make May-July oil payments to Iran - sources.  Full Article 

Facebook Earnings

Facebook Earnings

Facebook Q1 revenue grows 72 percent on rising mobile ads.  Full Article 

DLF Shares

DLF Shares

DLF slides 3 percent, underperforms rivals.  Full Article 

Rice Exports

Rice Exports

India may cede top rice exporter spot under Southeast Asian price onslaught.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage