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Dude, Where’s My Oil?

Dude, Where’s My Oil? thumbnail
You won’t find it here.
You won’t find it here.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Where did all the oil go? According to the latest estimates, the world should still be awash in oil stockpiles built up during the pandemic. But that’s not what the actual data on oil supplies show.

The International Energy Agency’s latest report, published on Wednesday, shows that, if their supply-and-demand numbers are right, the world’s oil stockpiles are about 660 million barrels higher than they were before the pandemic — that’s equivalent to more than a month’s worth of production by Saudi Arabia and Russia, the two biggest members of OPEC+.

A Worrying Divergence

Supply-demand balances imply global stockpiles remain inflated, while OECD inventories have fallen well below end-2019 levels

Source: International Energy Agency

Note: OECD stock changes are reported, except for 4Q21, which is a preliminary estimate. Global changes are derived from supply and demand estimates.

Yet oil inventories in the nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — including both commercial and government-controlled (strategic) stockpiles — ended 2021 almost 220 million barrels lower than they were two years earlier. Adding in other things that can be measured with varying degrees of accuracy — such as the volume of oil on tankers and stockpiles in floating-roof tanks in other parts of the world — reduces the gap between theoretical and observed inventories to about 200 million barrels.

That discrepancy is only enough to meet the entire world’s oil needs for two days, or to power the U.S. for a week and a half.

Of course, there will always be some unmeasurable oil inventories that need to be guessed, so that global supply-and-demand balances make sense. The IEA suggests in its latest report where some of those places might be — for example, underground storage caverns, where fill levels can’t be measured remotely; in new pipelines that need to be filled before they can be used; or in refined products in countries (like China) that don’t report inventory levels.

Nowadays, though, this notion of “missing barrels” is no longer good enough. We have remote monitoring of pipelines and refineries, satellite image analysis of storage tanks whose roofs rise and fall as they are filled and drained, advanced algorithmic ship tracking and almost unlimited computing power.

Clandestine Chinese imports of sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan oil may account for some, perhaps even a large proportion, of the missing barrels. If they have been spirited away in the underground caverns that make up part of China’s growing strategic petroleum reserve, they will exert little pressure on oil markets.

But the bigger worry is that the oil isn’t hidden away anywhere. The large volume of missing oil may suggest that supply estimates are too optimistic or that demand has been understated. Or, more likely, some combination of the two.

Measuring oil supply and demand is tricky after all. In most places, oil production is routinely and accurately measured to assess tax liabilities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those figures are available to organizations like the IEA, certainly not in a timely fashion and sometimes not at all.

Publicly disseminated oil production numbers may not always be an accurate reflection of what’s really happening. It is no accident that the OPEC+ group of oil producers uses an average of output estimates from a range of secondary sources to monitor compliance with output targets, rather than relying on figures provided by its member countries.

Getting a handle on demand is even more complicated. There are many more countries to consider, some of whom are extremely slow to provide information. It is not uncommon for the IEA and other agencies to make revisions to historical demand numbers stretching back several years.

Even where the data are relatively transparent, they are not always accurate, as the U.S. Energy Information Administration found back in 1998, when it overestimated domestic production and underestimated demand and imports. That year, global oil production, consumption and inventory figures left 300 million barrels of oil unaccounted for.

While unreported stockpiles probably account for some of the latest discrepancy, much of it may also be the result of underestimated demand. And if historical demand has been underestimated, it is very likely that forecasts of future demand may be too low as well.

Brent Crude

Brent crude prices hit their highest level since 2014 last week

Source: ICE Futures Europe

Soaring oil prices — last week saw crude prices reach seven-year highs — don’t reflect a market that has a stock overhang of 660 million barrels. Sure, they’ve probably been given a boost by concerns over Russian troops massed on its border with Ukraine and drone strikes on the United Arab Emirates.

Analysts are lining up to call $100-crude later this year. If it turns out that a large proportion of the missing barrels has actually been consumed already, that’s just going to add fuel to the fire.


63 Comments on "Dude, Where’s My Oil?"

  1. supertard rok doesnt MUZZ-19 himself with reckless abandon only stupid people do that and now he is still here like Andy Kaufman he is at a truck stop just saw him the other day the dumb elite whitey supertard our very own kat MUZZ-19 himself on Wed, 26th Jan 2022 2:10 pm 

    with reckless abandon and now supertard kat is at SAINT PETERS

    glad to hear supertard rok is alive and well

    gab dot com / MUZZ-19 Injuries and Death

    please feel at ease among friends
    we’re all lovers of supremacist muzzies here.

  2. Cloggie on Thu, 27th Jan 2022 5:30 am 

    What comes after the car?


    (and public autonomous driving)

    “Austin’s growing Dutch-inspired “All Ages & Abilities” cycle network.”

    Bloomberg: “How Amsterdam Became a Bicycle Paradise”

    “Chris Boardman compares cycling in Holland and Britain”

    A couple of hours of video by a German who travelled through the entire Netherlands in 2 weeks time, giving a solid impression of how cycle and car traffic are almost completely separated:

  3. Biden’s hairplug on Thu, 27th Jan 2022 3:01 pm 

    “Europe could live with less Russian gas. A complete shutdown would be ‘catastrophic’“

    Well, well, well, that’s a bit late! And CNN does not even realize that SCO buddy Iran could simply cut off the rest of Europe’s energy from the Gulf. The consequence: the social order in Europe would melt away and rightwingers would go at the throat of the leftist warmongers. Putin, the 3D-chess player knows that, the western idiots don’t.

  4. Duncan Idaho on Thu, 27th Jan 2022 8:04 pm 

    GDP growth under Biden more than 3 times each of last 3 GOP Presidents

    Job growth under Biden 3 times last 3 GOP Presidents COMBINED

    40m of 42m jobs created since 1989 – 95% – have come under Dem Presidents.

    The Dims seem to be kicking the Repugs azz—
    But stupid people don’t usually win.

  5. Duncan Idaho on Thu, 27th Jan 2022 8:31 pm 

    “For four long years, we had a rapist, tax cheat, embezzler, fraudster, mob associate and criminal as President.

    Is it any wonder that America’s criminal class has been emboldened?

    Or that young people who came of age during his presidency are choosing crime as a way to make a quick buck?”

    Our Repug friends seem to like “rapist, tax cheat, embezzler, fraudster”.etc.

    I guess that what a Repug is?

  6. Theedrich on Fri, 28th Jan 2022 12:24 am 

    The gangrenous U.S. pushes on to planetary death. It believes that God/history didn’t do creation right, so we have to commit global genosuicide to “fix” it and make the megabillionaires even richer and more powerful than they are.  Mass corruption of the morally infantile elites, starting with academe, followed by bribery of nihilistic politicians (i.e., most of them) is the plan.  Ever since the founding of the country, the death drive has dominated the country under the mask of Jeezus-freakism.  You will be paid back for your fratricidal serfdom and willful insanity after you are in the grave (or eaten by ravenous dogs).  And the apocalypse will end in the Second Coming when all of the Elect (especially the superrich and globemasters) are swooped up to planet heaven.

    So continue, Whitey, to import millions of ThirdWorld feces with their diseases, fentanyl, and parasitism, thereby making the Leftists and Rinos permanent gods and Yankeeland a police state.  And negrify everything, just as the Chosenites tell you to.

    And this planet will have failed as far as the development of high intelligence is concerned.

    After all, sanctity for committing the murders they want you to, is the promise of YidChristianity.

  7. Biden's hairplug on Fri, 28th Jan 2022 2:08 am 

    “Europe could live with less Russian gas. A complete shutdown would be ‘catastrophic’”

    Scenario for right-wing revolution in Germany:

    Soros-groupie Annalena Baerbock…

    …the child and dilettante that plays foreign minister there and has the loudest anti-Putin mouth and “threatens Putin with closing down Nord-Stream-2” (that is like the threat with a hunger strike, with Putin saying: “die already”). Let’s assume Putin calls the bluff of Annalena and DOES close down NS2. Next he has a phone call with his buddies in Tehran while saying “all systems go” and the Iranians fire 1-2 missiles at oil tankers in the Gulf, which would bring down all traffic there until “after the war”. Alternatively, Tehran could outsource this dirty work to their Houthi buddies in Yemen, who are overviewing the entrance of the Red Sea and Suez Canal. Again, 1-2 missiles suffice. Wham: Europe without any fossil fuel and the economy would come to a shrieking halt. Reason: Annalena insists that NS2 needs to be closed down because of “Russian aggression in the Ukraine”, while the 4 NS pipes are filled to the hilt with gas. It would be a little overkill, but Russian commandos could additionally sabotage Russian pipelines in the Ukraine.

    How long would Annalena be able to keep putting here little finger in the pipe, like a German Hansje Brinkers?

    Even CNN understands that the results would “catastrophic”… namely for their beloved leftist order in Germany. And the CNN punks have not even contemplated the Iran-factor in closing down energy flows to Germany and Europe.

    Remember 1989, East-Berlin? The way the good citizens of the GDR got rid of their leftist tormentors, was in bringing down the Berlin Wall. It is well known that you can bring down a wall only once. So what do German right-wingers need to do this time to bring down a stinking US-oriented leftist regime?

    How about destroying this building?

    The CIA-ridden HQ of the largest media building in German, the der Spiegel tower in Hamburg. It suffices to knock in all windows and throw all inventory out of the window.

    Other media HQs, same story.

  8. homeless elite whitey supertards and elite darkie supertards MUZZ-19 themselves with reckless abandon one hunder shekles for each MUZZ-19 making elite whitey (((supertards))) rich and shekles come out of tax payers on Fri, 28th Jan 2022 8:33 am 

    please feel at ease among friends
    we’re all lovers of supremacist muzzies here.

  9. peakyeast on Fri, 28th Jan 2022 6:20 pm 

    Is that GDP growth inflation adjusted? Probably not.

  10. Biden's hairplug on Mon, 31st Jan 2022 8:02 am 

    Who needs oil?

    World made by hand (leg rather) latest:

    From Coevorden (“Vancouver”) to Kaap Hoorn (“Cape Horn”) by bike in 2 years. 4 parts, 2 hours.

    Very professional drone pictures while narrated from his living room in Amsterdam, afterwards.

    Earlier, he had cycled from Amsterdam to Singapore in one year:

    Today he has found another way of minimalistic living, off-grid in the Italian Alps, as an IT-Nomad, power by solar panels and wifi, as a sort of modern day Thoreau.


    “#1 First days at my cabin in the Italian Alps”

  11. elite whitey superatard Christina Hopkins MUZZ-19 BLEEDING FROM VAG on Wed, 2nd Feb 2022 7:05 pm 


    Q: What is your life like now, after getting the vaccine?

    Now I can’t go out unless I am wearing a tens unit. I can’t go to see my family as I’m just way too tired. I’m confused so much and always have to write things down what to get from the shop. I don’t really eat dinners now due to feeling sick in a bite, so I have soup. I can’t lay on my right hand side due to the neurological pain that I am in.

    pLEASE feel at ease among friends we’re all lovers of supremacist muzzies here.

  12. Biden's hairplug on Sun, 6th Feb 2022 6:04 am 

    Donkey Idaho exults:

    GDP growth under Biden more than 3 times each of last 3 GOP Presidents

    Job growth under Biden 3 times last 3 GOP Presidents COMBINED

    40m of 42m jobs created since 1989 – 95% – have come under Dem Presidents.

    That’s the bounce back from the biggest postwar economic contraction, you dummy.

  13. The Nationalist on Tue, 8th Mar 2022 4:16 am 

    Biden is a senile evil zionist supporting cunt.

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