April 7, 2011 / 3:07 PM / in 7 years

IMF sees oil price spikes as demand outstrips supply

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Reuters) - The global economy is entering a period when demand for oil will outstrip supply, laying the ground for price spikes, the IMF said on Thursday.

“There is a risk that the tensions between demand and supply trends could intensify again and prices could rise rapidly,” said Thomas Helbling, an adviser to the International Monetary Fund’s Research Department.

In a newly released analysis, the institution said if tensions between demand and supply factors intensified it could force price spikes as high as $148 a barrel when the oil price hit record levels in 2008.

“The increases in the trend component of oil prices suggest that the global oil market has entered a period of increased scarcity,” the IMF said in initial chapters of its World Economic Outlook report, which will be released in full on Monday,

Brent futures, a global benchmark oil contract, has risen almost $8 over the past five days to $122.30 on Wednesday. They climbed above $120 a barrel this week for the first time since 2008, with no end in sight to unrest in the oil-producing Middle East and North Africa. [ID:nN06206555] (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton)

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