Monday, February 21, 2011

Revolution - the threat to American imports

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are currently in the middle of a series of popular uprisings. While it is not possible to see the outcome in any of these countries at the moment, it is certain that some are likely going to end with a set of different governments and philosophies. This is not just of academic interest, since the countries involved produce collectively a significant amount of oil and natural gas, a lot of which is exported to North America and Western Europe. Looking just to the oil imports to the United States, and the natural gas imports (LNG) and averaging the volumes for October and November 2010, since there can be some wide variation month-to-month I came up with the following table, using the EIA information.

Average imports into the United States from MENA countries, averaged from October and November 2010 (EIA).

The largest concern at the moment is likely with Libya, since they supply Europe with needed oil.
Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, produced around 1.6 million b/d of crude oil during 2010, of which approximately 1.5 million b/d were exported, mostly to Europe. Therefore, unlike Egypt the situation in Libya has the potential to have a big impact on global oil supply. Latest news that has emerged is that oil output has stopped at Libya’s Nafoora field as workers have gone on strike.”

Algeria, as I noted in my last Tech Talk, plays a similar role in the supply of natural gas
The part of the Algerian gas in the gas balances in some European countries is significant. 86% for Portugal, 61% for Spain, 49% for Italy, 26% for Belgium, 25% for France and 21% for Turkey. Today about 97% of Algerian gas exports supply the European market next to Russia, and Norway, one of the main suppliers of the Europe. Algeria accounts for 29 percent of European Union gas imports and 15% of gas consumption

While it is too early at this stage to determine what the outcomes of the different struggles will be, it is realistic to expect some disruption of the current production in at least some countries, and the possibility of a reduced investment in future production, as the economies of the nations are restructured. And the consequence of that will be an increase in the price - Did somebody mention $147 a barrel?


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