Oil Demand Isn’t Growing as Fast This Year, U.A.E. Says

Oil markets have some excess supply and exporting nations are monitoring Europe’s debt crisis to gauge whether global consumption will expand as much as it did last year, the United Arab Emirates oil minister said.

The Middle Eastern country is pumping 2.6 million barrels of crude a day now and would like to supply as much as 3 million barrels a day this year if buyers need that much, the minister, Mohamed Al-Hamli, said at the World Future Energy Summit.

“Demand is not in a good shape,” he said in Abu Dhabi. “It will increase but less than last year. We are revising demand numbers and waiting to see how the European crisis is being handled.”

The U.A.E. was the fifth-largest crude producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last month, trailing Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Iran, according to a monthly report issued by the organization’s secretariat today. Demand is being led by Asian customers, especially those in China, Al-Hamli said.

The oil market “is a little bit over supplied but generally it’s well supplied,” he said.

Total OPEC crude production fell to a 14-month low in December, mainly because of a 420,800 barrel-a-day reduction by Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, the report from OPEC’s Vienna-based secretariat showed, citing secondary sources for its supply estimates. OPEC kept its estimate for this year’s global oil demand growth unchanged at 0.9 percent.

OPEC’s 12 members also include Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar and Venezuela. The organization is next scheduled to meet in May.

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