Iraq Slashes Projected Crude Output By Half Over Next 5 Years

And another huge hit to future oil supply. After Goldman released a report on Friday, backtracking on its April recommendation that clients sell crude, instead warning that "critically tight supply-demand fundamentals" will likely cause oil prices to "return to or surpass the recent highs by next year", "should Libyan oil supplies remain off the market", which it now appears they will considering Gadaffi is winning the Libyan civil war against the West-backed rebellion, here comes a stunner out of Iraq which has just slashed its 2017 oil production estimate from 12 million barrels to just 6.5-7 million bbpd. Oddly enough, Iraq is being rational: "Baghdad believes it would not be in its interests to try to achieve the 12 million target by 2017 because boosting global supply would depress prices." Who would have though a cartel would think of itself first... Surely, this is great news for Saudi Arabia which will promise to hike oil production and replace the missing output only for it to be discovered a few months later that not only did it not to do that (as we just discovered now following the whole Libya fiasco), but that it just does not have the excess capacity. And, of course, "speculators" will be blamed once they take WTI from $97 to $140 daring to discount the future price of oil in a (inflationary) world in which demand increases by 50% over a decade, even as supply continues to trickle down with each passing year. In other words, the CME margin hike crew is actively studying how many margin hikes it will take to break the back of the recently record number of non-commercial net specs... for at least a week or two, especially once the Chairman goes to town with the printer Turbo button. And elsewhere, the upcoming scarcity of lubricating petroleum byproducts is about to be felt through the entire supply (and demand) chain.

From The Australian:

The country's Oil Ministry, with backing from the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, will set a new target to produce between 6.5 million and 7 million barrels per day by 2017, down from original plans to pump 12 million barrels, according to industry insiders.

Iraq, which is a member of the OPEC cartel that pumps 40 per cent of the world's oil, produces about 2.68 million barrels a day, barely higher than under Saddam Hussein.

It had been hoped that with a huge injection of foreign investment, it would be able to challenge Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil exporter this decade.

Confirmation it has scrapped the old target will add to fears that global supply will be unable to keep pace with demand in coming years.

As usual, the 'conspiracy of optimism' got the better fo everyone. And we can't wait to see if the Libyan, Siryan and Yemeni problems spread to Iraq... and/or Iran.

It is understood that government negotiations to change the long-term service agreements signed by companies in the past two years based on the old production target will begin soon.

Analysts said companies would seek improved terms to compensate them for losing out on revenue, which at present is earned for each barrel of oil produced above a base target.

Baghdad believes it would not be in its interests to try to achieve the 12 million target by 2017 because boosting global supply would depress prices.

No demand?

Ministers also argue that there is not sufficient demand for the extra oil, despite soaring prices. Last month, Saudi Arabia cut its output by 800,000 barrels a day after pumping more in response to the political crisis in North Africa, complaining that the extra crude was sitting in tankers with no customers.

High oil prices, which have doubled since the 12 million target was set two years ago, will compensate Iraq for the lower production. Ministers also recognise that creaky pipelines and storage facilities could not cope with such an increase.

The International Energy Agency estimates that investment of more than $US160 billion ($149bn) would be needed to meet the target.

So perhaps the Chairman was not lying that the end price of commodities is determined by supply and demand. The only qualifier is that while crude will surely have a $2 handle and three digits in it in several years (forcing inflation to spike far higher than where it is now in order to offset the pricing impact on the broader population), in the interim volatility in commodities will surge to unprecedented levels (as we expected back in the fall of 2010) as it takes our speculators on both bullish and bearish extremes, invites in the HFT crew to make price swings even more ridiculous, and forcing the Fed to step in and take over this vertical that it still does not control, after already having taken charge of the fixed income and equity markets. And with that, the last pseudo-unmanipulated product will succumb to central planning.

h/t Escape Key