Oil Prices: Norwegian Supply Falls; Is $100 Oil Far Away?


Norway, the world’s fourth biggest crude exporter, said Monday that its oil production fell a sizeable 7% in April to 1.99 million barrels a day last month from 2.15 million barrels a day in March.

By Spencer Swartz – The Wall Street Journal

Though preliminary, the data highlight one of the big underlying supply problems in non-OPEC states that many oil analysts believe is likely to send crude prices back over the $100 a barrel mark in coming years. Oil closed Friday at $58.63, its highest settle since mid-November. It is trading around $57.75 a barrel this morning.

The Norwegian situation is being replicated in other non-OPEC oil producers, such as Mexico and the U.K. These regions are mature and giving up less oil, meaning that keeping production flat is getting harder and harder.

If analysts are right, this underlying supply struggle will keep oil prices relatively strong in coming years. And that’s a boon for renewable energy developers. Not just are they set to receive an enormous infusion of cash, low-interest loans and other support out of capitals from Washington D.C. to Beijing, they appear set to get some tailwind from high oil prices. If the worst global recession in decades can’t derail oil prices for long, that’s a good sign that the global economy is entering a period of oil prices high enough to support ongoing investment in renewable (a.k.a. competing) energy sources.

In addition to the so-called “below ground” geological issues, non-OPEC producers, which currently meet about 60% of the world’s daily crude demand, are grappling with the global economic recession. The International Energy Agency in Paris last month cut its 2009 non-OPEC supply forecast by 320,000 barrels a day to 50.3 million barrels a day due to falling spending on drilling projects. It was the IEA’s eighth straight monthly downward revision to non-OPEC supply.

The agency said it could spring further reductions to its non-OPEC supply projections, so be on the outlook when the IEA releases its May monthly oil market report on Thursday.

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