Global oil demand growth will trickle nearly to a halt in the coming years with the high prices and security of supply concerns highlighted by the global energy crisis, and is set to peak this decade, according to the International Energy Agency, with Chinese consumption set to slow down after an initial pent-up recovery.
In its latest medium-term market report, IEA forecasts that global oil demand under current government policies and market trends, will rise by 6% between 2022 and 2028 to reach 105.7 million barrels per day (mb/d) – supported by robust demand from the petrochemical and aviation sectors.
Despite this cumulative increase, annual demand growth is expected to shrivel from 2.4 mb/d this year to just 0.4 mb/d in 2028, putting a peak in demand in sight, it stated.
"The shift to a clean energy economy is picking up pace, with a peak in global oil demand in sight before the end of this decade as electric vehicles, energy efficiency and other technologies advance," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
"Oil producers need to pay careful attention to the gathering pace of change and calibrate their investment decisions to ensure an orderly transition," he added.
New IEA medium-term report sees oil use for transport going into decline after 2026, but overall consumption is expected to be supported by strong petrochemicals demand.
Global oil markets are still slowly recalibrating after three turbulent years in which they were upended first by the Covid-19 pandemic and then by the crisis in Ukraine. The global energy crisis triggered by the crisis in Ukraine has resulted in an unprecedented reshuffling of global trade flows.
In particular, the use of oil for transport fuels is set to go into decline after 2026 as the expansion of electric vehicles, the growth of biofuels and improving fuel economy reduce consumption, stated the report.
Global oil markets could tighten significantly in the coming months, as production cuts by the OPEC+ alliance temper an upswing in global oil supplies. However, the multifaceted strains on markets look set to ease in the following years, according to the new report.
China was the last major economy to lift its stringent Covid-19 restrictions at the end of 2022, leading to a post-pandemic oil demand rebound in the first half of 2023. But demand growth in China is forecast to slows markedly from 2024 onwards.
Nevertheless, burgeoning petrochemical demand and strong consumption growth in emerging and developing economies will more than offset a contraction in advanced economies
Global upstream investments in oil and gas exploration, extraction and production are on course to reach their highest levels since 2015, growing 11% year-on-year to $528 billion in 2023.
While the impact of higher spending will be partly offset by cost inflation, this level of investment, if sustained, would be adequate to meet forecast demand in the period covered by the report. However, it exceeds the amount that would be needed in a world that gets on track for net zero emissions.
The report’s projections assume major oil producers maintain their plans to build up capacity even as demand growth slows.
This is expected to result in a spare capacity cushion of at least 3.8 mb/d, concentrated in the Middle East. The report nonetheless notes a number of factors that could affect market balances over the medium term – including uncertain global economic trends, the direction of OPEC+ decisions and China’s refining industry policy.
Oil producing countries outside the OPEC+ alliance dominate plans for increasing global supply capacity in the medium term, with an expected rise of 5.1 mb/d by 2028 led by the United States, Brazil and Guyana. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iraq lead the plans for capacity building within OPEC+, while African and Asian members are set to struggle with continuing declines.
This makes for a net capacity gain of 0.8 mb/d from the 23 members in OPEC+ overall over the report’s forecast period.
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