U.S. Natural Gas Futures Drop Below $3 for First Time Since 2012

Oil Prices a Major Threat to Europe’s Economy, IEA’s Birol Says

Oil prices are acting as a brake on the global economy, and harming Europe in particular, the International Energy Agency’s chief economist said at a conference in London today.

Europe will need to spend 500 billion euros ($668 billion) on oil imports this year, about 200 billion euros more than average levels, if oil prices remain near current levels, the IEA’s Fatih Birol, said in London at the start of International Petroleum Week.

“Prices are very high,” he said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The “current level of oil prices is a major impact on the global economy, but especially for Europe.”

Asked by reporters if IEA members are considering a release of emergency stockpiles, Birol said the agency doesn’t “discuss stocks just when prices are rising. We do it when there is a supply disruption.”

The IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook report, due later this year, will focus on U.S. oil supply, Birol said.

IEA is a policy adviser to 28 industrialized nations, most of whom are net oil importers.

More than 80 percent of oil projects worldwide have been delayed by about three years because of technical challenges and security issues, Birol added. “We will see more and more delays in delivering production.”

Brent crude oil futures traded near $118 a barrel today on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

-- With assistance from Guy Johnson Francine Editors: Stephen Voss, Andrew Reierson

To contact the reporter on this story: Grant Smith in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at

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