Beating the Oil Drum

Sometimes the Saudis are there when we need them, opening the crude oil taps as if on cue:

Oil prices have fallen to a nine-month low as surging supply from Opec and the US floods the market and fresh demand wilts, leading to an “oil glut” in the Atlantic region despite the twin crises in Iraq and Russia.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) cut its forecast for the rise in global consumption to just 1m barrels a day (b/d) this year due to near recession conditions in Europe and as pervasive weakness in the world economy disappoints.

This comes as supply rises by a further 300,000 b/d beyond what was already planned. The warning sent Brent crude prices tumbling to $104 a barrel, the lowest this year.

The sudden shift in the balance of the market has allowed the OECD club of rich states to build up their oil stocks at the fastest rate in eight years, creating an extra layer of protection against any possible supply shock from Russia and Iraq.

The Saudis helped us bring down the Soviet empire in the ’80s by wielding the oil weapon for us. On the other hand, I haven’t seen much relief at the pump — now why is that?

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