OPEC sees oil demand soaring in 2021 but still below 2019

An Indian laborer pulls a cart laden with empty oil drums. OPEC and its allies led by Russia have cut output by 10 million bpd since May. (AFP)
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Updated 15 July 2020

OPEC sees oil demand soaring in 2021 but still below 2019

  • Forecast highlights massive stimulus measures to counter global pandemic

LONDON: Global oil demand will soar by a record 7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021 as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus crisis, but will remain below 2019 levels, OPEC said in its monthly report.
It was the first report in which OPEC assessed oil markets next year. It said the forecast assumed no further downside risks materialized in 2021 such as US-China trade tensions, high debt levels or a second wave of coronavirus infections.

“This assumes that COVID-19 is contained, especially in major economies, allowing for recovery in private household consumption and investment, supported by the massive stimulus measures undertaken to combat the pandemic,” OPEC said.

Oil prices collapsed this year after global demand fell by a third when governments imposed lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.

OPEC said in 2020 oil demand would drop by 8.95 million bpd, slightly less than in last month’s report.

In 2021, it expects efficiency gains and remote working to cap demand growth, keeping demand below record 2019 levels.

OPEC expects to cover the lion’s share of the massive projected demand spike in 2021 with demand for its crude rising by 6 million bpd to reach 29.8 million bpd.

From May 2020, OPEC and allies led by Russia have been cutting output by nearly 10 million bpd, or a 10th of global demand, to help prop up oil prices.

Output in countries such as the US, Norway and Canada has also fallen, although they are not part of the OPEC+ agreement on output cuts.

OPEC said it expected non-OPEC oil supply in 2020 to fall by 3.26 million bpd and rise by just 0.92 million bpd in 2021.

OPEC said it saw no growth of output from the former Soviet Union in 2021 even though Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have been curtailing output in tandem with OPEC.

“I think OPEC is betting that some of the wells that were shut in don’t come back due to reservoir damage in non-OPEC countries. But OPEC isn’t immune to declines either,” said Amrita Sen, co-founder of the think tank Energy Aspects.

She said that OPEC’s demand recovery predictions could prove optimistic. Energy Aspects see demand bouncing back by about 5 million bpd next year.

OPEC said it expected US output in 2021 to grow by just 0.24 million bpd after falling by 1.37 million bpd in 2020 and a rise of 1.7 million in 2019.

OPEC said it had cut supply in June by a further 1.89 million bpd to 22.27 million bpd, based on secondary sources the group uses to monitor its output. That amounts to more than 110 percent compliance with the pledges, according to a Reuters calculation, up from May’s estimate of 84 percent.

OPEC estimated demand for its crude this year at 23.8 million bpd, up 200,000 bpd from last month and over 1.5 million bpd more than it pumped in June, suggesting maintaining current output would lead to a 2020 supply deficit.

Despite the cuts, oil stocks in industrialized countries continued to rise in May by 29.9 million barrels to reach 3.167 billion, about 210 million barrels above a five-year average.


‘Lower for longer’: Fed’s warning on interest rates

Updated 24 September 2020

‘Lower for longer’: Fed’s warning on interest rates

  • The Fed cut rates to near zero in March and took other steps to combat a recession

WASHINGTON: Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida said on Wednesday that policymakers “are not even going to begin thinking” about raising interest rates until inflation hits 2 percent, comments aimed at cementing the public’s understanding of the US central bank’s new approach to monetary policy.

“Rates will be at the current level, which is basically zero, until actual observed PCE inflation has reached 2 percent,” Clarida told Bloomberg Television, referring to the Fed’s preferred measure of prices. PCE inflation tends to be somewhat lower than the better-known consumer price index.

“We could actually keep rates at this level beyond that. But we are not even going to begin thinking about lifting off, we expect, until we actually get observed inflation equal to 2 percent. Also we want our labor market indicators to be consistent with maximum employment.”

The Fed cut rates to near zero in March and took other steps to combat a recession that took hold as businesses shut down and consumers stayed home to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Clarida said that with further government aid from Congress and the steps the Fed has already taken, the US economy could return from the current “deep hole” of joblessness and weak demand in perhaps three years.

To aid that process, the Fed in late August revised its approach to monetary policy to commit to lower rates for longer periods of time, allowing the risk of higher inflation to try to encourage a stronger economic recovery and more job gains for workers. A follow-up policy statement last week gave more specific guidance about future decisions, but questions remain about what the new approach will mean in practice.

Clarida said there should not be any confusion: Rates will not increase until labor markets recover and prices hit the Fed’s target.

“So lower for longer, and we have given some observable metrics,” for judging when a rate hike debate might begin, he said.

Decisions about any possible overshoot of inflation are “academic” at this point, he added, and can be made once the economy rebounds.