April 10, 2018 / 5:01 PM / 11 days ago

Oil demand estimates converging but better data still needed: OPEC

NEW DELHI - Oil demand estimates by major government forecasters are converging, an OPEC official said on Tuesday, although more effort is needed to improve the quality of data about the global market.

A man fixes a sign with OPEC's logo next to its headquarters' entrance before a meeting of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna, Austria, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/Files

A lack of transparency about oil demand, supply and stocks has long been seen as a cause of excessive price swings. The Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI), which collects and reports data, is an attempt by producers and consumers to gain a clearer picture.

Aziz Yahyai, a senior research analyst at OPEC, showed a JODI information seminar in New Delhi a slide of oil-demand estimates from the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Estimates made in July 2016 by the three main government forecasters of 2017 global oil demand ranged from just over 95 million barrels per day to more than 97 million bpd, with the gap narrowing in later months’ forecasts.

“There is some improvement,” Yahyai said. “Two or three years ago, the discrepancy was about 2 million barrels per day and now it is about 1 million.”

But a discrepancy of 1 million bpd is still roughly 1 percent of the global market, making it hard to produce accurate forecasts, he said.

While the JODI database is an important source of information not available elsewhere, shortcomings include a lack of information about inventories and insufficient data for big consumers such as China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, Yahyai said.

“Global stock levels are the source for checking the accuracy of supply and demand numbers. However, the lack/inaccuracy of stocks data makes an accurate assessment very difficult.”

The JODI partners include oil exporter group OPEC and the IEA, which advises energy-consuming nations. It was originally formed in 2001 to focus on oil and later broadened its scope to include natural gas.

The JODI seminar was held at the International Energy Forum, a meeting of producers and consumers this week in New Delhi.

Editing by Dale Hudson

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