OPEC: EM currency rout could hit oil demand


Further depreciation in emerging market currencies could seriously dent oil demand in large emerging economics, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) warned on Wednesday.

In its Monthly Oil Market Report, OPEC said the sell-off in emerging market currencies has only "slightly affected" crude oil prices to date, but stressed that further volatility could hit demand in the region.

"Emerging economies have been the main driver of oil demand growth in past year," the report found.

(Read more: Easy with the taper; we need growth: OPEC)

"While the major OECD economies are experiencing stronger GDP (gross domestic product) growth this year and are forecast to compensate for the shortfall of the emerging and developing economies, the outcome of the currency depreciation in the large emerging economies could potentially have a slowing effect on demand growth, particularly if the volatility in the currency market - causing second-round effects – continues," the organization said.

Dan Bannister | Image Source | Getty Images

The comments come after a difficult start to the year for emerging market currencies, which have experienced significant volatility amid ongoing concerns about some countries' fundamentals and the speed at which the U.S. Federal Reserve will tapering off its bond-buying program.

OPEC said 2014 world oil demand growth was expected to increase to around 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd)– a upward revision of 50,000 bpd on the previous month.

(Read more: OPEC cuts output closer to 2014 demand)

But it added that this improvement in world oil demand would "remain below potential growth, as rising economic activities counterbalance the decline in oil intensity."

Main crude oil futures declined in January on worries over the outlook for emerging economies and Fed tapering.

The value of OPEC's so-called reference basket - a measure of the prices of various grades of oil - fell by almost $3 to $104.71/b in January amid bearish sentiment, the cartel said.

(Read more: Shell shock: Oil giant warns of 'significantly lower' profit)

However, severe weather conditions in the U.S. prompted a spike in heating-fuel demand, strengthening product markets in the country.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave