- Global oil demand growth will trickle nearly to a halt by 2028, the International Energy Agency found in its latest Oil 2023 medium-term market report.
- Chinese consumption is likewise set to slow down after an initial pent-up recovery.
- The agency forecasts that global oil demand under current market and policy conditions will rise by 6% from 2022 to reach 105.7 million barrels per day in 2028 on the back of the petrochemical and aviation sectors.
Global oil demand growth will trickle nearly to a halt in the coming years and peak this decade, according to the International Energy Agency, with Chinese consumption set to slow down after an initial pent-up recovery.
"The shift to a clean energy economy is picking up pace, with a peak in global oil demand in sight before the end of this decade as electric vehicles, energy efficiency and other technologies advance," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement.
In its latest medium-term market report, published Wednesday, the agency forecasts that global oil demand under current market and policy conditions will rise by 6% from 2022 to reach 105.7 million barrels per day in 2028 on the back of the petrochemical and aviation sectors.
Annual demand growth, however, will thin down from 2.4 million barrels per day this year to 400,000 barrels per day in 2028.
"The downturn in advanced economies renders the global outlook even more dependent on China's post-Covid pandemic reopening being able to maintain its early momentum, which should eventually lift global trade and manufacturing," the agency said, while stressing Beijing's "pent-up" consumption will peak mid-2023 after a 1.5 million-barrels-per-day rebound but lose momentum to just an average 290,000 barrels per day year-on-year from 2024 to 2028.
An "unprecedented reshuffling of global trade flows" and emergency releases from the strategic petroleum reserves of IEA members last year "allowed industry inventories to rebuild, easing market tensions" amid demand pick-up, the world energy body said.
On the supply side, the IEA expects oil producers outside the influential coalition of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies — known as OPEC+ — to "dominate medium-term capacity expansion plans," including the U.S. and other American producers. Global supply capacity will rise by 5.9 million barrels per day to 111 million barrels per day by 2028 in IEA estimates, with growth lulling amid a U.S. slowdown. This will lead to a spare capacity cushion of 4.1 million barrels per day, focused in OPEC heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Russian output remains "clouded," with the IEA predicting declines as a result of sanctions on Moscow's seaborne crude and oil products exports since the end of last year, along with the departure of Western companies that facilitated production. The IEA now sees Russian supplies likely to ease by a net 710,000 barrels per day for the six-year forecast period to 2028.
"Moscow's ability to self-finance its oil industry operations and its access to Chinese equipment and services may stave off a far steeper decline. But a toughening of western financial measures imposed on Russia could also result in a sharper downtrend," the agency said. It estimates that 2.5 million barrels per day of Russian crude has been diverted from Western consumers to now find Asian buyers, creating a "two-tier market."
The IEA continued to ring alarm bells over ongoing upstream oil and gas investment, which it predicts will reach its highest since 2015 at $528 billion in 2023, simultaneously covering demand and surpassing "the amount that would be needed in a world that gets on track for net zero emission."
"Oil producers need to pay careful attention to the gathering pace of change and calibrate their investment decisions to ensure an orderly transition," Birol said in a statement.
Toril Bosoni, head of the oil industry and markets division at the IEA, told CNBC's "Street Signs Europe" on Wednesday that the global energy crisis that followed the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine had "really accelerated" the transition away from fossil fuels.
"So, while we are still having strong growth and demand for oil this year as we're seeing that last leg of the Covid recovery, over the medium term we're really seeing that all these policy measures that governments have put in place [and] the changes that consumers are making for pricing and other reasons are making an impact."
In a landmark 2021 report, the IEA had urged no new oil, gas or coal development if the world is to achieve net zero by 2050 — in a move widely criticized by several OPEC+ producers, who advocate for dual investment in hydrocarbons and renewables, until such a time that green energy can unilaterally fulfill global consumption needs.
"There's a real transformation coming," Bosoni said on Wednesday, citing the uptake of electric vehicles and energy efficiency measures across all sectors.
In its Oil 2023 report, the IEA notes that achieving the global net-zero emissions goal would require both policy and behavioral changes while observing the oil demand impact of electric vehicles.
"The adoption of tighter efficiency standards by regulators, structural changes to the economy and the ever-accelerating penetration of EVs are expected to powerfully moderate annual growth in oil demand throughout the forecast." The IEA assumes more than one in four cars in 2028 will be an EV, with sales near 25.9 million.