The global economy would suffer from sustained oil prices of $100 a barrel, but the current output of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries members is reducing the risk of a real oil shock like the one in 2008 when the price of oil spiked to nearly $150, the head of the International Energy Agency told a group of AAPA members on Feb. 18. If today’s oil prices endure, then “the economic burden will be continued,” Nobuo Tanaka said. On the positive side for consumers, OPEC has recently ramped up output and is now pumping at close to the level sought by the IEA, Tanaka said. Oil inventories are also fairly high, he said. If OPEC continues to pump aggressively, “we don’t have to worry too much.” Tanaka said. “Don’t be panicked.” The newsmaking event with Tanaka and other officials of the IEA, the energy watchdog for developed countries, was hosted by the agency at its Paris headquarters. IEA Deputy Executive Richard Jones told the group that there’s little risk for global oil markets from a major political disruption in Libya, which has seen recent protests after dramatic political changes in Egypt and Tunisia. The reason is that Libya’s oil production is “relatively small these days,” Jones said.

–John Biers