Helping America Navigate a New Energy Reality

Where has the oil gone? Missing barrels and market rebalancing

By on 8 Mar 2016 in analysis, notable posts

Fuel pumps are pictured at a gas station in Sidi Allal El Bahraoui, Morocco, February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

(Reuters) Global oil production exceeded consumption by just over 1 billion barrels in 2014/15, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Production exceeded consumption by an average of 0.9 million barrels per day in 2014 and 2.0 million bpd in 2015 ( tmsnrt.rs/1pvIEw8 ).

Of the 1 billion barrels reportedly produced but not consumed, roughly 420 million are being stored on land in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Another 75 million barrels are thought to be stored at sea or in transit by tanker somewhere from the oil fields to the refineries.

That leaves 550 million “missing barrels” unaccounted for, apparently produced but not consumed and not visible in the inventory statistics (“Oil Market Report”, IEA, Feb. 2016).

Missing barrels are recorded in the “miscellaneous to balance” line of the IEA’s monthly Oil Market Report as the difference between production, consumption and reported stock changes.

The miscellaneous item reflects errors in data from OECD countries, errors in the agency’s estimates for supply and demand in non-OECD countries, and stockpile changes outside the OECD that go unrecorded.

IEA data currently shows a miscellaneous to balance item of 0.5 million barrels per day in 2014 and 1.0 million barrels per day in 2015.

Top