The latest IEA monthly report, released on 12 May, downgraded its demand growth forecast for 2006 to 1.25 million barrels a day (b/d) from 1.47 b/d. Mild first-quarter temperatures and high oil prices were blamed. Global oil supply in April rose by 485,000 b/d to 85.1 million b/d, while OPEC supply climbed by 170,000 b/d to 30 million b/d, due mainly to higher output from Iraq, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela.

OPEC’s monthly report, released around the same time, also revised downwards its 2006 demand growth outlook to 1.4 million b/d. It added that the average price of the OPEC basket of crudes rose to a new record of $64.44 a barrel in April, up by $6.57 a barrel from the previous month.

US inventory data for the week to 12 May showed a strong 0.6 per cent rise in gasoline supplies to 206.4 million barrels, on the back of increased domestic production and near-record imports.