March 15, 2018 / 9:49 AM / 6 months ago

Global oil demand picks up but still lags rising supply: IEA

LONDON (Reuters) - Global oil demand is expected to pick up more quickly this year, but supply is still growing at a faster pace leading to a rise in inventories in the first quarter of 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen operating in the Permian Basin near Midland, Texas, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder/Files

The Paris-based IEA raised its forecast for oil demand this year to 99.3 million barrels per day (bpd), from 97.8 million bpd in 2017.

Commercial oil inventories in industrialized OECD nations rose in January for the first time in seven months to 2.871 billion barrels, 53 million barrels above their five-year average, the IEA said.

But it said Venezuela, where an economic crisis has cut oil production by 50 percent in two years to lows not seen in more than a decade, could still trigger a renewed drawdown in stocks.

“With supply from Venezuela clearly vulnerable to an accelerated decline, without any compensatory change from other producers, it is possible that the Latin American country could be the final element that tips the market decisively into deficit,” the IEA said.

In a bid to drain inventories, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers have been implementing a deal to cut output by about 1.8 million bpd from January 2017 until the end of 2018.

Assuming no change in OPEC output for the rest of the year, the IEA said it expected a small increase in OECD inventories in the first quarter of 2018 with declines after that.

The agency said it expected supply from non-OPEC nations to grow by 1.8 million bpd in 2018 to 59.9 million bpd, led by the United States, where crude output was forecast to rise by 1.3 million bpd in 2018 to more than 11 million bpd by the end of the year.

(This story corrects non-OPEC supply to 59.9 million bpd from 97.9 million bpd in final paragraph)

Reporting by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Edmund Blair

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