US shale has 'blinked' in battle against OPEC: IEA

U.S. oil producers appear to have lost their battle with OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) over market share, but the war is only just beginning, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Wednesday. (Tweet This)

"In the supposed standoff between OPEC and U.S. light tight oil (LTO), LTO appears to have blinked," the Paris-based energy think tank said in its new monthly report.

"Following months of cost cutting and a 60 percent plunge in the U.S. rig count, the relentless rise in U.S. supply seems to be finally abating."

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The price of oil has collapsed from near $120 a barrel in June last year to lows of around $45 a barrel in January, although it has since bounced back to around the $60-a-barrel level.

This dramatic fall in prices was due to weak demand, a strong dollar and booming U.S. oil production, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

However, OPEC's reluctance to cut output has also been seen as a key reason behind the fall. This has led some analysts to argue that the rivals have been playing a "game of chicken" over the price of oil before cutting back to ease the oversupply.

And U.S. shale producers appear to have succumbed to the pressure. Over recent months, the producers have been busy dialing back their operations and research firm Baker Hughes reported Friday that the U.S. oil rig count had fallen for the 22nd consecutive week.

But the IEA stated Wednesday that far from winning the "battle," it had only just begun for OPEC.

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Russian oil companies are coping well, Brazil's state oil firm was a "success" story and Chinese, Vietnamese and Malaysian output was also seeing healthy growth, it said.

"(It would be) premature to suggest that OPEC has won the battle for market share," the IEA said.

"The move by the group's core Gulf members last November not to cut production in defense of prices was only the first step in a plan that includes actually ramping up output and aggressively investing in future production capacity."

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are raising their rig counts, and Iraq and Libya are continuing to increase production, the IEA highlighted. Iranian supplies have also hit their highest since July 2012, it added.

"The rest of the oil patch is not standing still. As the market continues to rebalance, pockets of supply growth are emerging from unsuspected corners...the market's short-term fundamentals still look relatively loose," the energy think tank said.

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The IEA on Wednesday kept its 2015 forecast for global oil demand growth unchanged at an average of 93.60 million b/d (barrels per day).

It also said that global oil supply growth remained at a steep 3.2 million b/d year-on-year in April, adding that total oil supplies were flat from March as higher OPEC output had offset a drop in non-OPEC supply.

It predicted that supply growth for 2015 from non-OPEC producers would be 830,000 b/d, up by 200,000 b/d since last month's report.