CANBERRA/SYDNEY Nov 19 World oil markets are
well supplied despite the loss of nearly 1 million barrels a day
of crude from Iran following sanctions by the United States and
European Union, the head of the International Energy Agency
(IEA) told Reuters on Monday.
Brent crude has stayed above $100 a barrel for most of this
year due to concerns over supply disruptions after the United
States and Europe slapped sanctions on Iran in a bid to force
Tehran to abandon its controversial nuclear programme.
"Well supplied. Yes, that's consistent (with what we've been
saying)," Maria Van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA
said when asked about global oil supplies. She was in Canberra
to attend a World Energy Outlook presentation to academics,
officials and lawmakers.
Supply was sufficient despite the efficacy of the U.S. and
European sanctions in choking Iran's oil exports, she said.
"More than one million barrels a day are not coming onto the
market -- one million barrels a day of Iranian oil -- so (the
sanctions) are working," van der Hoeven added.
Soaring energy costs prompted the United States to talk of
releasing strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) as one option to
dampen prices earlier this year, a move that was opposed by IEA
and some member nations.
A spike in tensions in the Middle East in the past few days,
following air strikes by Israel on the Gaza strip and
Palestinian rocket attacks, has for now had no impact on the
IEA's outlook for oil market fundamentals, she said.
Investors fear the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could draw
in Middle East producers and threaten oil flows from the region,
which supplies more than a third of the world's crude.
January delivery Brent gained 75 cents to $109.70 a
barrel by 0610 GMT on Monday, as Middle East tensions added to
concerns about supply from the region.
The IEA advises industrialised nations on energy policy and
represents 28 oil importing countries.
U.S. GAS PRICES
Separately on Monday, van der Hoeven told a conference in
Sydney that lower U.S. natural gas prices due to a boom in shale
gas were unlikely to bring down prices in Europe or Asia.
The United States has yet to start exporting liquefied
natural gas (LNG). How much gas it will eventually export is the
subject of debate among politicians, some of whom believe
exports should be limited to ensure the country's domestic
economy benefits from the shale boom.
Benchmark U.S. gas prices fell as low $2.50 per mmBtu
(million British Thermal Units) in June, while gas prices in
Europe were running at around $10 per mBtu and in Asia at $16 to
$18 per mBtu, van der Hoeven said.
"Let's be honest, a price of $2.50 mBtu as we've seen in the
United States doesn't cover all costs, so it's impossible to
have prices like this in other parts of the world," van der
Hoeven told the annual Australian Institute of Energy national