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A Look at the IEA 2011 Release of Strategic Oil Reserves

A Look at the IEA 2011 Release of Strategic Oil Reserves

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Published by Ifri Energie
by Devin GLICK.
A look at the motivations and potential consequence of the International Energy Agency's coordinated release of strategic oil stocks.
by Devin GLICK.
A look at the motivations and potential consequence of the International Energy Agency's coordinated release of strategic oil stocks.

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Published by: Ifri Energie on Jul 29, 2011
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11/06/2012

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A Look at the IEA 2011 Releaseof Strategic Oil Reserves
Devin Glick
June 23, 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) coordinatedthe release of 60 million barrels of emergency stocks in response tothe disruption of oil production in Libya due to civil unrest. This announcementelicited a mixed reaction from the public and from the market. Some politiciansin the United States called the move a political decision by the President tosatisfy voters, private oil companies did not like the interference, and someOPEC countries were upset and called the release unnecessary.The reason why there was a strong reaction was because the IEA had nevercoordinated a release in this manner before. It was only the third time therehad ever been a release, after the First Gulf War in 1991 and for HurricaneKatrina and Rita in 2005. The circumstance and decision for the June 23drawdown was more flexible and may signal a change in the way strategicpetroleum stocks are used.
Reasons Behind the 2011 Drawdown
While the primary reason for the IEA’s action was the crisis in Libya, this was
not the only impetus. There were multiple factors in play, including thenegative outcome of the most recent OPEC meeting, the expected seasonalincrease in demand, and the increased refining capacity for the summer afterscheduled closures for maintenance.The political turmoil and violence in Libya halted nearly all oil production in the
This paper examines themotivations and thepotential consequences ofthe International Energy
Agency’s coordinated
action to release petroleumstocks on June 23, 2011.
Devin Glick, a recipient of theBaker Institute/Leadership RiceSummer Mentorship Experience2011, was an intern at IFRI in theEnergy Program. He studiesPolitical Science and Economicsat Rice University.
Ifri is a research center and aforum for debate on the majorinternational political andeconomic issues. Headed byThierry de Montbrial since itsfounding in 1979, Ifri is a nongovernemental and non profitorganization. As an indepen-dent think tank, Ifri sets its ownagenda, publishing its findingsregurlarly for an internationalaudience. Using an interdis-ciplinary approach, Ifri bringstogether political and economicdecision-makers, researchers,and internationally renowedexperts to animate its debateand research activities. Withoffices in Paris and Brussels,Ifri stands out as one of therare French think tank to havepositionned itself at the veryheart of the European debate.
The opinions and remaining 
 
errors are the responsibility of 
 
the authors alone.
ISBN: 978-2-86592-885-8 © All rights reserved, Ifri, 2011
 
Actuelles de l’Ifri
 
On
 
Devin Glick / A Look at the IEA 2011 Release of Strategic Oil Reserves 
2
country. After hovering above 1.5 million barrels per day in 2009 and 2010,production in Libya declined to 169,000 barrels per day in May 2011.
1
This totalloss of over 1.3 million barrels per day added up to a loss of an estimated 132million barrels of light sweet crude from the market by the end of May.
2
The IEApredicted that Libya would not be able to resume production before the end ofthe year and thus agreed to compensate for the missing barrels of oil with oilfrom strategic stockpiles.Oil exports from Libya are mostly to Europe, which has had to look to othersources to find a replacement. Between January and November of 2010, 28%of Libyan oil was exported to Italy, 15% to France, 10% to Germany and Spaineach, 5% to Greece, and 4% to the United Kingdom. Libya also exported 11%of its oil to China, 3% to the United States, and the final 14% to variouscountries.
3
Although Libyan oil is mostly exported to Europe, oil markets areinternationally connected and a lack of supply to one region is felt across theglobe in prices and spreads between crude streams. As Europe has to lookelsewhere for replacement crudes this puts the stress of increased demand onglobal supply.The refusal of the meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) on June 8 to increase quotas on production provided reason for a moreintense look at a drawdown. Saudi Arabia wanted to increase production ashigh prices were damaging the world economy. On the other side opposing any
increase were Iran, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Algeria (the traditional ―pricehawks‖) hoping to sustain higher domestic oil revenue with high oil prices by
limiting oil output. This deadlock resulted in no changes to the productionquotas and a spike in crude prices.
4
Before the results of the meeting, therecould still be some hope that OPEC would increase production to make up forthe loss of Libyan oil, but the option was taken off the table and increasingly
ItalyFranceGermanySpainGreeceUnited KingdomChinaUnited StatesOtherNon-European
Libyan Oil Export Destination, 2010
 
Devin Glick / A Look at the IEA 2011 Release of Strategic Oil Reserves 
3
nervous consumers had to look elsewhere.After the failed meeting, Saudi Arabia decided to unilaterally increase itsproduction levels to 10 million barrels a day, from 9.3 million barrels. Kuwait andthe United Arab Emirates have also agreed to increase production in an effort tocalm the energy markets.
5
 
In IEA’s Oil Market Report for July 13, 2011, OPEC
supply in June increased by 850 thousand barrels per day to 30.03 millionbarrels per day, due to a sharp rise from Saudi Arabia.
6
This is still less than the
IEA’s 31.3 million barrels per day ―call on OPEC,‖ which is the amount of oil that
IEA predicts OPEC needs to produce to adequately meet world demand. Inaddition, these increases take time to implement and get to market.
7
Some ofthe increased production in the Gulf region may never leave because thesecountries face increased domestic consumption of oil during the summermonths. Regardless of commitments by Saudi Arabia and other states toincrease production, the uptake of additional oil exports by the market is unsure.
The timing of IEA’s decision was in part driven by seasonal changes in the
market. Demand for petroleum products is generally in a lull during the springand then picks up for the summer driving season. The unrest in Libya did notcause as much of a stir in the market as it might have because it occurredduring a period of lower demand for crude. In addition, scheduled maintenancefor oil refineries more often occurs during the spring. With oil refineries comingback on line and an expected seasonal increase in demand approaching, thereis less room for supply disruptions or tensions.The type of oil that was missing also made the oil market situation more difficult.Libyan oil, which is light and sweet, is the type that is preferred by mostrefineries for transportation fuels.
8
The real supply shortage is a shortage oflight, sweet crude. Not all European refineries can adequately process heavysour crude from the Middle East to replace Libyan oil, and therefore the refineryutilization rate in Europe has dropped from over 85% in December 2010 tounder 80% by April 2011.
9
Even if more heavy, sour crude from Saudi Arabiawas made available, European refineries have a harder time processing it.
Details of the Release
With the loss of Libya’s light, sweet crude, a lack of production increases from
OPEC, and an expected increase in demand, Ambassador Richard Jones, theDeputy Executive Director of the IEA told reporters that the market was facing apossible shortfall of 1.8 million barrels per day for the remainder of June and 1.7million barrels per day for the next quarter.
10
The IEA had been monitoring the

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