Global oil demand has surged to a record amid robust consumption in China and elsewhere, threatening to push prices higher, the International Energy Agency said.
World fuel use averaged 103 million barrels a day for the first time in June and may soar even higher in August, the agency said in a report. As Saudi Arabia and its partners constrict supplies, oil markets are tightening significantly.
“Oil demand is scaling record highs, boosted by strong summer air travel, increased oil use in power generation and surging Chinese petrochemical activity,” the Paris-based IEA said. “Crude and products inventories have drawn sharply” and “balances are set to tighten further into the autumn.”
Oil this week touched a six-month high above $88 a barrel in London amid the post-pandemic resurgence in fuel use and supply restraint by the Saudi-led OPEC+ alliance. Brent futures eased back a little to trade below $87 on Friday.
The energy transition looks set to have an impact next year, when global demand growth will roughly halve to 1 million barrels a day due to improved vehicle efficiency and the adoption of electric cars, the IEA said.
But in the meantime, world markets are tightening, leaving oil inventories in developed nations about 115 million barrels below their five-year average, according to the report. Global stockpiles are set to deplete by a hefty 1.7 million barrels a day in the second half of the year, and preliminary data appears to confirm declines in July and August, the IEA said.
Russia, a fellow member of the coalition, is also reducing exports.