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Opinion
Julian Lee

The World Has Been Using A Lot More Oil Than We Thought

Global oil stockpiles are a lot lower than previous estimates suggest.

Emptier than we thought.

Emptier than we thought.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Remember all that missing oil I wrote about last month? The discrepancy between where stockpiles ought to be (based on implied supply and demand balances) and the volumes that had actually been reported or measured? 

Well, those barrels are missing no more. As I feared, it turns out they’ve already been used up — in the refineries and petrochemicals plants of China and Saudi Arabia. That means oil balances are a lot tighter than the International Energy Agency previously thought.