EIA sees oil prices dropping in 2022, 2023

By Adewale Sanyaolu

Global inventory builds due to supply growth outpacing demand increases will pressure oil prices down this year and next, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) for January.

Brent Crude prices, which averaged $79 a barrel in the fourth quarter of 2021, are set to average $75 per barrel during 2022 and $68 a barrel in 2023, the EIA said.

The U.S. benchmark, WTI Crude, is expected to average $71.32 per barrel this year and $63.50 a barrel next year, the EIA said in its monthly outlook.

Early last Wednesday, before EIA’s weekly inventory report, WTI Crude was trading above $82, and Brent Crude was above $84 a barrel, after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last Tuesday that the U.S. economy would see only a “short-lived” impact from the Omicron surge, and was ready for the beginning of monetary policy tightening.

According to EIA’s estimates, inventory withdrawals globally averaged 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) last year, thanks to faster demand growth than supply increases. This year, however, demand growth is set to slow while supply will grow faster, leading to builds in global petroleum inventories.

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The world’s oil production is set to jump by 5.5 million bpd in 2022, driven by production increases in the United States, OPEC, and Russia, which together will account for 84 percent, or 4.6 million bpd, of the growth, the EIA said.

At the same time, global petroleum consumption will increase by 3.6 million bpd in 2022, the administration noted. Inventories will build by 500,000 bpd this year, and by an average 600,000 bpd next year, putting downward pressure on oil prices, the EIA says. The administration’s forecast is markedly different from that of Goldman Sachs, for example, which said two week ago that oil prices could reach $95 if Iran doesn’t return to the market this year, while commodities overall are set for a supercycle that could potentially last a decade.

Goldman’s call for Brent Crude prices for the first quarter of 2022 is $85 per barrel, assuming that Iran could legitimately return to the market later this year. But an Iranian return now looks increasingly unlikely, and without Iranian exports, we could be looking at $95 oil, according to Jeff Currie, global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs.

Last month, Goldman Sachs forecast crude oil prices could hit $100 in 2023 as demand growth outpaces supply growth.