Syria, South Sudan hamper oil supply

Global oil production capacity has been strained for much of the year because of production outages in Syria and South Sudan, among other countries, putting upward pressure on prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Thursday.

The administration said the volume of unplanned outages from countries that are not members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have tightened world oil supply by about 1 million barrels a day for much of the year. That is nearly twice the curtailments from non-OPEC country outages experienced at the end of 2011, EIA said.

Global surplus capacity, a measure of the amount of production that countries could bring online in the case of disruptions in supply, is about 2 million barrels per day, the administration said.

The estimate does not include potential supply from Iran, which has been offline because of U.S. and European sanctions.

Disruptions in Gulf of Mexico oil production during Hurricane Isaac contributed to the outage figures in August and September, but most of the decline was from offline production in Syria and South Sudan.

“The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, and its impact on oil prices arguably transcends disrupted volumes in that country, as concerns grow about the risk of regional spillover effects from the conflict,” the administration said.

South Sudan, which had been in a conflict with Sudan over oil production and transportation, recently signed an agreement with Sudan and ordered oil companies to begin production, the administration said.

That would slash the total of offline production from non-OPEC members and would relieve some pressure on oil prices.

“The government of South Sudan ordered oil companies to restart production last month, and production is expected to gradually resume within the next few months.” the administration said.