OPEC may tout the production cuts pact as the key driver of oil market rebalancing, but if it weren’t for the strong global oil demand growth of the past three years, we wouldn’t have seen international agencies calling the end of the oil glut.
Demand was strong because the lower-for-longer oil prices between 2015 and 2017 stimulated consumption growth in both mature OECD economies like the United States and most of Western Europe, and in emerging non-OECD markets—China and India in particular.
All oil importing nations benefited from the lower oil prices, but while demand growth in India and China is largely driven by economic expansion and industrial activity, in OECD economies demand is more closely linked with large and sustained changes in oil prices. The 70-percent rally in oil prices since the middle of last year is expected to moderate growth in the more price-sensitive OECD economies, Reuters market analyst John Kemp argues.
Oil demand will continue to increase, largely driven by non-OECD markets like China and India, but the higher oil prices could slacken the pace of the OECD demand growth that could curb global oil demand growth.
Last year, oil demand grew by 1.7 million bpd—similar to the 2016 growth and well above the 10-year average of some 1.1 million bpd, BP said in its BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 published this week.
“Not surprisingly, oil demand in 2017 continued to be driven by oil importers benefitting from the windfall of low prices, with both Europe (0.3 Mb/d) and the US (0.2 Mb/d) posting notable increases, compared with average declines over the previous 10 years,” BP noted.
Growth in non-OECD China—500,000 bpd—was closer to its 10-year average, according to the review.
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