The surge of the Delta variant around the globe is set to partially delay oil demand recovery into the next year when robust economic growth and stronger recovery in fuel consumption will see global oil demand averaging 100.8 million barrels per day (bpd) and exceeding pre-COVID levels, OPEC said on Monday (Sep 13), raising its 2022 demand forecast by a shocking 900,000 bpd.
Next year, oil demand worldwide is expected to jump by around 4.2 million bpd compared to 2021, an upward revision of 900,000 bpd compared to last month’s assessment, OPEC said in its closely-watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR).
This year, total global oil demand remains unchanged at 96.7 million bpd for the whole of 2021. But the fourth-quarter demand was revised slightly down, by 110,000 bpd from the August estimate of 99.82 million bpd to 99.7 million bpd now, OPEC said in its September report.
“Oil demand in 3Q21 has proved to be resilient, supported by rising mobility and traveling activities, particularly in the OECD. At the same time, the increased risk of COVID-19 cases primarily fueled by the Delta variant is clouding oil demand prospects going into the final quarter of the year, resulting in downward adjustments to 4Q21 estimates,” the cartel noted.
The lower estimates for the last quarter of 2021 mean that some of the demand recovery will be pushed into the first half of 2022, according to OPEC.
“As vaccination rates rise, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be better managed and economic activities and mobility will firmly return to pre-COVID-19 levels. The revisions are based in both the OECD and non-OECD regions, with steady economic developments expected to support the partially delayed recovery in oil demand in various sectors,” OPEC said in its 2022 forecast.
Demand for 2022 was revised up by 300,000 bpd for OECD and by 600,000 bpd for non-OECD countries compared to last month’s outlook.
Last week, reports emerged that OPEC could cut its 2022 demand forecast, but the organization now says it believes that the Q4 2021 weakness in demand would only delay the recovery to next year.