On April 27, 2012, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the second in a series of reports required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012. The report, The Availability and Price of Petroleum and Petroleum Products Produced in Countries Other Than Iran, is available on the EIA website at http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/ndaa/.
EIA estimates that global liquid fuels consumption is at a historically high level. While the global economic outlook remains uncertain, continued growth is expected. Inventories in the United States were estimated to have risen by an average of 0.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in March and April 2012, while commercial inventories in other member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) built by an estimated 0.1 million bbl/d over the same time frame. Though data on non-OECD inventories are very limited, the implied build in non-OECD stocks based on estimated global levels of production and consumption averaged 0.2 million bbl/d in March and April. During these two months, there were numerous press reports that Iranian oil exports to other countries were lower than Iranian volumes available for export, causing Iran to accumulate, perhaps involuntarily, crude oil inventories that are included in the implied build in non-OECD inventories.
The biggest recent increases in non-OPEC production have taken place in North America. Tight oil plays were the primary driver of increased U.S. liquid fuels production, which in March 2012 was between 0.1 and 0.2 million bbl/d above its average level during the fourth quarter of 2011. Output from the oil sands has been responsible for Canada's increased production in recent years, but technical issues meant that the country's production was only about 0.3 million bbl/d above the 2009-2011 average in March and April. Other non-OPEC countries currently producing at notably higher rates than their three-year averages include Brazil, China and Colombia.
Current spare crude oil production capacity, while estimated to be higher than during the 2003 to 2008 period, is quite modest by historical standards. With the rise in total global unplanned production outages over the last three months and the likely increase in non-discretionary inventories controlled by Iran, global spare capacity in March and April was estimated to average 2.5 million bbl/d, roughly equal to the average level in January and February.