Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Energy & Science

Just How Big Is the Biggest-Ever Slump in World Oil Demand?

  • IEA sees demand down all year with a huge decline until July
  • OPEC needs to pump just 8.5 million barrels a day this quarter
Gas Stations As Oil Industry Braces For Biggest Idling Of Wells In 35 Years
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

How low can you go? That seems to be the question bothering the world’s big-three oil forecasting agencies as they grapple to come to terms with the size of the slump in oil consumption triggered by the international response to the Covid-19 virus.

The International Energy Agency, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the U.S. Energy Information Administration have all updated their oil market forecasts in the past week and they make grim reading. As recently as February, all three saw the world’s thirst for oil increasing by close to 1 million barrels a day this year. Now they are projecting a drop in annual average demand of anywhere between 5 million barrels a day and more than 9 million.