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Amid all the uproar over the US’s surprising oil production growth of the last few years, some oil market watchers may have inflated expectations of just how well-supplied the market is.

US onshore oil supply growth has helped to boost global oil market supply, helping to insulate prices from the impact of disruptions, such as prolonged strikes at ports in Libya and continued violence in Iraq. But it might be short-sighted to overlook the potential of further supply disruptions to cause price spikes, according to Katherine Spector, head of commodities strategy at CIBC.

“This is a relatively tight market,” she said at the Columbia University Energy Symposium late last month. “It’s a market that’s always one more unplanned supply outage away from a sharply higher price.”

US oil production growth has been robust over the last few years,  “but if you put all the rest of non-Opec together, we’ve seen a net decline”, Spector said. She added that with a few notable exceptions, much of Opec production has been in decline, as well. “If you look at Saudi Arabia, we’ve seen huge growth there to make up for market shortfalls, and they’ve had a little bit of help from the Kuwaitis and the UAE,” she said. “But if you look at all the rest of Opec together, they’re down compared to two years ago.”

And Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ramp up output might have fallen short of keeping oil markets well-enough supplied to keep prices at current levels without the addition of US volumes.

“I would especially ask you to think about what this market might have looked like without the growth that we’ve seen in the United States,” she said. “I don’t think the Saudis could have solved that problem by themselves in the short-term, and we would have had much much higher prices than we’ve had.”

CIBC is forecasting an average Brent crude price of $110 per barrel next year and a West Texas Intermediate price of $100/bbl.