OPEC Warns of Deeper Cuts to Oil Demand Forecast on Slowdown

The New Normal for Oil and OPEC
  • Group trims 2016 demand growth estimate by 50,000 barrels/day
  • Members in freeze talks pumping 487,000 b/d below Jan. level

OPEC said it may deepen cuts to its forecast for global oil demand growth due to slowing economic expansion in emerging markets, warmer weather and the removal of fuel subsidies.

QuickTake Oil's Ups and Downs

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries trimmed estimates for demand growth in 2016 by 50,000 barrels a day because of a slowdown in Latin America, projecting worldwide growth of 1.2 million barrels a day. Weakness in Brazil’s economy, the removal of fuel subsidies in the Middle East and milder winter temperatures in the northern hemisphere could prompt further cutbacks, the group said.

“Current negative factors seem to outweigh positive ones and possibly imply downward revisions in oil demand growth, should existing signs persist going forward,” the organization’s Vienna-based secretariat said in its monthly market report. “Economic developments in Latin America and China are of concern.”

Oil climbed to a four-month high in London on Tuesday as OPEC nations prepare to meet with Russia and other non-members in Doha this weekend to complete an accord on freezing oil production, an effort to tame the global crude surplus. OPEC’s report said that “positive market sentiments continue to arise” from the freeze plan.

The group’s data shows that the 11 OPEC members who are confirmed to attend the Doha talks are pumping 487,000 barrels a day below January levels, the benchmark proposed for the freeze deal. Libya has said it won’t attend the meeting, and Iran has yet to decide. Saudi Arabia’s output has remained stable since January, the report showed.

All 13 members pumped 32.25 million barrels a day in March, up 14,900 a day from February, according to external estimates compiled by OPEC.

Global oil demand will average 94.18 million barrels a day in 2016, according to the report. This year’s growth rate of 1.2 million barrels a day is down from 1.54 million a day in 2015 amid a slowdown in consumption of industrial fuels and middle distillates in China and Latin America.

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