Sat | Sep 23, 2017

World Bank raises 2016 oil price forecast

Published:Wednesday | April 27, 2016 | 4:00 AM

Amid improving market sentiment and a weakening dollar, the World Bank is raising its 2016 forecast for crude oil prices to $41 per barrel from $37 per barrel in its latest April 2016 Commodity Markets Outlook, as an oversupply in markets is expected to recede.

The crude oil market rebounded from a low of $25 per barrel in mid-January to $40 per barrel in April following production disruptions in Iraq and Nigeria and a decline in non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production, mainly US shale.

A proposed production freeze by major producers failed to materialise at a meeting in mid-April, the World Bank said in a release.

"We expect slightly higher prices for energy commodities over the course of the year as markets rebalance after a period of oversupply," said John Baffes, senior economist and lead author of the April 2016 Commodity Markets Outlook.

"Still, energy prices could fall further if OPEC increases production significantly and non-OPEC production does not fall as fast as expected," he added.

All main commodity indices tracked by the World Bank are expected to decline in 2016 from the year before due to persistently elevated supplies, and in the case of industrial commodities - which include energy, metals, and agricultural raw materials - weak growth prospects in emerging market and developing economies.

Energy prices, including oil, natural gas and coal, are due to fall 19.3 per cent in 2016 from the previous year, a more gradual drop than the 24.7 per cent slide forecast in January. Non-energy commodities, such as metals and minerals, agriculture and fertilisers, are due to decline 5.1 per cent this year, a downward revision from the 3.7 per cent drop forecast in January, the World Bank said.

COST PROBLEM

According to a March 2016 International Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper titled Caribbean Energy: Macro-related Challenges, the single most important cost problem is the region's heavy dependence on expensive, imported fossil fuels.

As in the United States, the cost of using petroleum to produce electricity is several times higher than alternative fuels, it said.

Excluding Haiti, biomass represents around 11 per cent of Caribbean energy supply, mostly concentrated in Jamaica, the paper said.

It noted that Jamaica is the second-largest electricity consumer, after Trinidad and Tobago, with aggregate consumption of three billion kilowatt hours in 2012. That represents 32 per cent of total regional electricity consumption, excluding Trinidad and Tobago.

The IMF estimated that the net benefit to Jamaica from a decline in oil prices as a per cent of gross domestic product was four per cent.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com