Oil prices could continue slide, global energy agency says, warning of potential for conflict

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Oil prices have further to drop with no signs of slowing production in the U.S., according to a global energy agency.

The International Energy Agency, a watchdog group based in Paris that represents the world’s main oil-importing nations, said in its monthly report Friday that the recent stabilization in oil prices is “precarious.”

“Behind the facade of stability, the rebalancing triggered by the price collapse has yet to run its course,” it said.

The IEA cautioned that risks of oil supply disruptions are growing. Low prices could raise the risk of social disruption in some countries dependent on oil, the agency said, and the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Libya hasn’t slowed down.

U.S. oil production and stockpiles of oil are at a record high, the agency said. The growth in stored oil might be slowed this spring as refineries idled for maintenance start production again, but it won’t stop the growth, the report said.

The stockpiles of oil have gotten so high that the U.S. is running out of places to put it. That could be setting oil and gasoline prices up for another steep fall.

The price of oil fell another 3 per cent Friday with a barrel of U.S. crude going for $45.48. Prices were more than double that at this time last year.

Prices appeared to stabilize around $50 per barrel recently but they’ve started to slide again, falling more than 8 per cent this week.