Energy agency sees more oil declines, potential for conflict

AP News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2015 3:55 PM
Energy agency sees more oil declines, potential for conflict

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices have further to drop with few signs of slowing production in the U.S., according to a global energy agency.

The International Energy Agency, a watchdog group based in Paris that represents the world's main oil-importing nations, said in its monthly report Friday that the recent stabilization in oil prices is "precarious."

"Behind the facade of stability, the rebalancing triggered by the price collapse has yet to run its course," it said.

That may be playing out right now. Oil prices tumbled 10 percent this week, including a 5 percent drop Friday.

The IEA cautioned that risks of oil supply disruptions are growing. Low prices could raise the risk of social disruption in some countries dependent on oil, the agency said, and the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Libya hasn't slowed down.

Drillers are cutting back on spending and taking production offline because of plunging prices. On Friday, oilfield services company Baker Hughes said that the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. fell by another 67 this week to 1,125. More than half the rigs taken off line were in Texas.

That hasn't stemmed the glut of oil that is now nearing full capacity at U.S. storage sites.

The U.S. supply of oil has reached levels not seen in at least 80 years, according to the Energy Department.

The growth in stored oil might be slowed this spring as refineries idled for maintenance start production again, but it won't stop it, according to the IEA report Friday.

That is setting oil and gasoline prices up for another steep fall.

The price of oil fell $2.21 Friday to close at $44.84 per barrel in New York. Prices were more than double that at this time last year.