World oil consumption will top 100 million barrels per day (bpd) in the next three months, putting upward pressure on prices, although emerging market crises and trade disputes could dent this demand, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.
The Paris-based IEA maintained its forecast of strong growth in global oil demand this year of 1.4 million bpd and another 1.5 million bpd in 2019, unchanged from its previous projection.
“Things are tightening up,” the agency that advises Western governments on energy policy said in its monthly report.
“The price range for Brent of $70-$80 per barrel in place since April could be tested.”
US sanctions on Iran’s energy industry, which come into force in November, have already cut supply back to two-year lows, while falling Venezuelan output and unplanned outages elsewhere will also keep the balance between supply and demand tight, the IEA said.
But it said rising demand could also be checked.
“As we move into 2019, a possible risk to our forecast lies in some key emerging economies, partly due to currency depreciations versus the US dollar raising the cost of imported energy. In addition, there is a risk to growth from an escalation of trade disputes,” the agency said.
The United States and China have imposed a series of tariffs on each other’s goods since May that have unnerved equity markets, while a rising US dollar has put emerging market currencies under pressure, raising the energy bill for some of the world’s largest oil importers.
Demand from nations not in the OECD group of industrialised countries, led by China and India, is expected to rise by 1.1 million bpd to 51.6 million bpd this year and by 1.2 million bpd to 52.8 million bpd next year, the IEA said.
Global demand will hit a high of 100.3 million bpd in the final quarter of this year, before moderating to 99.3 mln bpd in the first quarter of next year, the agency said.
“We are entering a very crucial period for the oil market. The situation in Venezuela could deteriorate even faster, strife could return to Libya and the 53 days to Nov. 4 will reveal more decisions taken by countries and companies with respect to Iranian oil purchases,” the IEA said, referring to the day US sanctions on Iran take effect.
“It remains to be seen if other producers decide to increase their production,” it said
Demand for crude from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will moderate in 2019 to 31.9 million bpd, from an estimated 32.3 million bpd this year, the IEA said.
Iran, OPEC’s third-largest member, is feeling the effect of the sanctions. The IEA said crude output fell in August by 150,000 bpd from July to a 25-month low of 3.63 million bpd, while exports fell by 280,000 bpd to 1.9 million bpd, from a peak of around 2.5 million bpd in May.