The current oil oversupply – in perspective with years past

According to a recent EIA report, the current oversupply of oil is at about a million barrels.

Compare that with 2008, when the market was oversupplied by four to five million barrels of oil, and we hit one of the worst recessions in history. Now compare that with the 1998 Asian financial crisis, when the market was oversupplied by five million barrels of oil per day. Supplies are in fact growing, but not to the levels we’ve seen during drastic price drops in the past.  

The world is using 22% more oil than it did in 1998 and 5% more than it did in 2008. So if supply and demand ultimately dictate prices, the current low, per-barrel price doesn’t seem justified fundamentally or historically. Furthermore, if prices remain low, the only places production can continue over break-even costs is in the Middle East and Offshore Shelf.

Crude Oil: Previous Crisis Comparison

Previous Crisis

Low Oil Price

Daily Oversupply Estimate

World Consumption

1998 Asian Financial Crisis


5,000,000 bpd

74,266,000 bpd

2008 Great Recession


4,500,000 bpd

86,027,000 bpd

2015 Current Feb15 Spot Price


1,000,000 bpd

91,400, 000 bpd*

The daily oversupply is nowhere near previous crisis levels, when prices broke $50/barrel with a greater over-supply and lower world consumption.

Source: United States Energy Information Administration

* 2015 EIA estimate