World oil market could be set for lengthy slowdown: IEA

PARIS, Feb 13, 2008 (AFP) – The world oil market could be set for a lengthy slowdown, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday, signalling a sharp shift in the climate which pushed the oil price to 100 dollars last month. The IEA is based in Paris and is an offshoot of the OECD. “Just as the demand shock of 2004 shaped the oil market for the next three years, so too could the pending slowdown,” the IEA said in its monthly review of oil trends.

Allowing for a weather-related rebound in demand, “the underlying trend is even weaker,” the agency said. “Changes are taking place in the oil market — not just to demand, but also to the supply side.”

With the price now around 90 dollars per barrel, the IEA said it had revised down demand for 2008 in the light of weaker world growth prospects, and it reported firm supplies in January.

It explained: “An economic slowdown has the potential to change the landscape over the next few years: depending on how deep it is and how long it lasts.”

The IEA cut its forecast for world demand for oil this year by 200,000 barrels per day, saying it expected world demand in 2008 to grow by 1.9 percent instead of 2.2 percent forecast last July.

In January, world oil supply