Most-accurate oil forecasters see second year of losses

Beat Expectations

Oil demand may exceed analysts’ expectations next year as the U.S. economy strengthens, said Bjarne Schieldrop, the chief commodities analyst at SEB AB in Oslo. The global economy will expand 3.6% in 2014, from 2.9% in 2013, the International Monetary Fund said in a report in October.

“Demand has clear upside potential,” SEB’s Schieldrop said. “Oil prices should be set to stay around the $108 to $109 level seen this year, rather than set for a really bearish development.”

U.S. crude production surged to a 25-year high of 8.11 million barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 20, government data show. That’s the highest level since September 1988.

Iraq Ambitions

Iraq plans to export an average of 3.4 million barrels daily in 2014, Oil Minister al-Luaibi said Dec. 3. Shipments were 2.38 million barrels a day in November, the ministry said this month. The country has said it wants to produce 9 million barrels a day by the end of the decade.

Libya will consider armed force to reopen eastern ports closed by a blockade, Ajwa Leblad News cited Oil Minister Al- Arusi as saying Dec. 16. Production in the holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves has dwindled to 210,000 barrels a day, as of November, from this year’s peak of 1.4 million barrels in March, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Iran may be able to boost oil exports by 500,000 barrels a day following an agreement on Nov. 24 that eased some sanctions in exchange for a pause in the country’s nuclear program, Toronto Dominion’s Bouckhout said. That might expand should Iran reach a wider deal with world powers, he said. The country shipped 850,000 barrels a day in November, according to the IEA.

Iran’s improved relations with western governments may make Saudi Arabia, its regional rival, more reluctant to act as the swing producer, said Danske Bank’s Tuxen. OPEC may then be divided over who should cut to restore the balance between supply and demand, driving prices lower, she said.

“The Saudis will continue to add to an oversupplied market,” Tuxen said. “We see them cutting supplies slightly, but not enough to make up for the production increases we see elsewhere, especially in light of the Iranian-U.S. deal. They can actually deal with an oil price that falls somewhat below $100 and still be fairly well-off.”

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