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OPEC’s Spare Crude Oil Production: Highest since May 2013

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OPEC’s spare crude oil production capacity 

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) estimates that OPEC’s (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) spare crude oil production capacity rose by 285,000 bpd (barrels per day) to 2.29 MMbpd (million barrels per day) in February 2017—compared to the previous month. OPEC’s spare crude oil production capacity rose 14.2% month-over-month and 43% year-over-year. It’s at the highest level since May 2013.

Highs and lows 

OPEC’s spare production capacity hit 4.5 MMbpd in January 2010—the highest level in the last ten years. Brent crude oil prices were trading at $76.2 per barrel in January 2010.

OPEC’s spare production capacity hit 908,114 bpd in July 2008—the lowest level in the last ten years. Brent crude oil prices were trading at $132.7 per barrel in July 2008.

Crude oil prices 

Brent and WTI crude oil (FENY) (XLE) (UCO) prices rose from 2005 to 2008 when OPEC’s spare crude oil production capacity levels were low. Lower spare capacity restricts OPEC’s ability to respond to a rise in demand. As a result, crude oil (RYE) (USO) (ERY) prices rise. When OPEC’s spare crude oil production capacity is high, it indicates ample headroom to manage demand and prices.

OPEC’s production capacity averaged 1.26 MMbpd in 2016. It’s expected to average 1.71 MMbpd and 1.21 MMbpd in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The consensus of falling production capacity in 2018 suggests a rise in OPEC’s crude oil production over the long term.

For updates on OPEC’s production and major oil producers’ meeting, read US Production versus Major Oil Producers’ Production CutOPEC’s Crude Oil Production: How It Could Impact the Surplus, and OPEC’s Crude Oil Production Fell Again.

Impact on crude oil producers  

Expectations of a rise in OPEC’s crude oil production over the long term will have a negative impact on crude oil prices. Lower crude oil prices have a negative impact on major Middle East oil producers such as Saudi Aramco and National Iranian Oil Company. They also impact US oil and gas exploration and production companies such as Synergy Resources (SYRG), Denbury Resources (DNR), Bonanza Creek Energy (BCEI), and ConocoPhillips (COP).

Read What Can Investors Expect in the Crude Oil Market in 2017 for more on crude oil prices.

Read Will Crude Oil Prices Test 3 Digits Again and Will Crude Oil Prices Hit $30 per Barrel? for more on crude oil price forecasts.

For more industry analysis, visit Market Realist’s Energy and Power page.

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