MADRID (AFP) - The International Energy Agency gave early warning on Tuesday of looming crude oil supply tensions from 2010, offering scant encouragement for consumers struggling with rising fuel prices. The industrialised world's energy watchdog stressed in a report on the medium term prospects for the oil market that growth in supply would outpace demand in the next few years before demand again caught up in 2010. "Structural demand growth in developing countries and ongoing supply constraints continue to paint a tight market picture over the medium term," said the 2008 Medium-Term Market Report, published here on Monday. "There are significant downward revisions for both non-OPEC supplies and OPEC capacity estimates from last year's Medium-Term Oil Market Report," said the IEA, pointing to unexpected delays with projects and cost increases. As a result, spare capacity in the world production system " which serves as safety cushion and a dampener of prices " "temporarily rises above 4 million barrels a day in 2009 and 2010, before receding to minimal levels by 2013." This spare capacity is production kept in reserve by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which regulate their output to control prices. The fall in spare capacity in recent years because of increased demand from fast-growing economies in Asia and the Middle East has been one of the main drivers of prices. The influential watchdog, which advises the world's industrialised nations on energy policy, also went to great lengths in the report to counter the argument that speculation is to blame for 140-dollar oil. Benchmark crude surged to close to 144 dollars a barrel on Monday, a new record. "Often it is a case of political expediency to find a scapegoat for higher prices rather than undertake serious analysis or perhaps confront difficult decisions," the IEA said. It added: "Blaming speculation is an easy solution which avoids taking the necessary steps to improve supply-side access and investment or to implement measures to improve energy efficiency." The issue of speculation has divided producer and consumer nations, with OPEC producer nations blaming speculators for the run-up in prices, which have doubled in the last 12 months. Some politicians in consumer countries, facing unpopular reforms or angry consumers, have also blamed speculators in the financial sector. The IEA used economic theory of supply and demand and changes in the industry to expain the increase in prices. It cited "strong underlying demand growth from non-OECD countries, poor supply growth, low spare capacity, a weaker dollar and a mismatch between refinery capacity and the structural growth in product demand." The report gave updated forecasts for supply and demand in the period to 2013. Global oil demand is expected to grow by 1.6 percent per year on average over the next five years, rising from 86.9 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2008 to 92.39 mbd in 2012 and 94.1 mbd in 2013. The figure for 2012 was revised down by 3.43 million barrels per day as a result of slowing economic growth and conservation measures sparked by higher prices.