Global oil demand to return to pre-pandemic levels next year, although COVID hotspots will make the recovery uneven: IEA

Oil rig
  • Global oil demand is set to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, the International Energy Agency said.
  • COVID will keep impacting demand due to continued outbreaks, unequal vaccination levels and societal shifts.
  • Accelerating production in the US and OPEC+ countries will boost supply in 2022, the IEA said.
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Global oil demand is set to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022, but renewed COVID outbreaks and low vaccination levels in developing countries will make the recovery uneven, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.

The IEA issued its first forecast for 2022 in its monthly oil report, predicting that demand would build on 2021’s growth of 5.4 million barrels per day and increase by an additional 3.1 million barrels per day in 2022, reaching 100.6 million barrels per day by the end of next year.

Recovery will however be uneven as COVID-19 continues to affect non-OECD countries with slower vaccination rates and the pandemic caused shifts in consumer behaviour.

“Continued teleworking in OECD countries […], higher electric vehicle sales and increased car efficiencies for new models will weigh on growth.” the IEA believes, adding that ongoing border closures will also keep impacting fuel orders. They had slowed down significantly during the pandemic and associated lockdowns that prevented international and domestic travel.

Jet fuel and kerosene demand are therefore still expected to be 11% lower at the end of 2022 compared to before the pandemic. At the same time, LPG and ethane demand will rise around 5% above pre-pandemic levels and gasoline and diesel orders will rebound to their former standards.

The IEA left its outlook for 2021 demand mostly unchanged from last month. The more stable COVID-19 situation and continued recovery and economic reopening in OECD countries caused demand to rise in the first half of the year. However, slow vaccination rates in non-OECD countries led the IEA to reduce forecasts for the second half of the year.

Overall 2021 demand expectations were therefore lowered to 50,000 barrels per day, with annual growth now expected to be around 96.4 million barrels per day.

Global oil supply is set to grow more quickly in 2022, as the US is set to recover from two consecutive years of production declines and will account for much of the increase in supply from outside OPEC+. The IEA predicts non-OPEC countries will supply around 1.6 million barrels per day more next year, leaving OPEC+ to produce an additional 1.4 million barrels per day to meet growing demand.

“The boost in non-OPEC+ oil supply next year comes despite financial constraints and mounting pressure from climate activists and shareholders on major oil companies and independents,” the report said.

In the shorter term, the IEA said OPEC+ may have to revise its current supply policies in the second half of 2021, as disparities between demand and supply start developing and are set to affect markets in the last quarter especially.

Finally, sanctions on Iranian oil exports will also play a role in increased supply. If Tehran can strike a deal with global powers over its nuclear activities and sanctions are lifted, Iranian crude could flood markets and make the country the biggest driver of supply growth in 2022, the agency said.

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Renewable energy sources grew at their fastest rate since 1999 last year when COVID-19 struck, the IEA says

Wind farm denmark
A working ship stands on stilts between wind turbines erected in the Baltic Sea between the islands of Rügen and Bornholm (Denmark). In the foreground is the “Arkona” wind farm about 35 kilometers northeast of Rügen with a capacity of 385 megawatts. In the background the offshore wind turbines of the Baltic Sea wind farm “Wikinger” of the energy supplier Iberdrola.

  • Renewable energy capacity increased by 45% in 2020 the International Energy Agency said.
  • The IEA predicts that renewable energy sources will cover 90% of global power expansion in the next two years.
  • Demand for renewable energy increased during the pandemic, whilst use of other energy sources declined.
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Renewable energy sources increased by 45% in 2020, accelerating at their fastest rate since 1999, as demand for clean power grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Tuesday. Wind energy led the expansion, as global capacity increased by 90%. Solar energy capacity grew by 23%.

The IEA links this increase in renewable energy capabilities to global policy decisions and deadlines that countries had set themselves in terms of expanding their renewables sectors. China, the US and Vietnam are credited with leading the renewables push after momentum slowed when the pandemic first hit.

“Overall, IEA quarterly deployment estimates indicate that the slowdown in renewable capacity additions was limited to Q1 2020 only, mainly in China, while construction activity continued strongly in the rest of the world despite continuous movement restrictions and supply chain delays,” the agency said in the report.

Energy markets were hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw travel come to a halt, as lockdown restrictions forced people to stay at home. Oil prices fell and turned negative for the first time in early 2020, as demand for the fuel vanished. Crude has since recovered, as investors anticipate economies reopening.

The decline in fossil fuel use also affected biofuel demand, the IEA said. Production fell by 8% in 2020, but still exceeded expectations – 150 billion liters of biofuel were needed in 2020 vs the 144 billion the IEA had predicted. The agency expects demand to rebound in 2021 and grow by a further 7% in 2022.

Looking ahead, the IEA predicts renewable energy sources will be responsible for 90% of global power expansion in 2021 and 2022. The agency expects solar and hydrogen power to play key roles, while the growth of wind power is set to slow down after its surge in 2020.

“The acceleration of hydropower additions through 2022 is driven by the commissioning of mega-scale projects in China. Meanwhile, expansion in other renewables, led by bioenergy, remains stable and represents 3% of total new renewable capacity additions,” the IEA said.

China had already been the driving force of renewable energy expansion in 2020, accounting for half of the new capacity installations and is expected to keep this leadership position, the IEA said.

Despite President Joe Biden’s recent infrastructure plans, Europe is set to replace the US as the second-largest renewable market in 2021 thanks to national policies on climate change and deadlines that are looming. Biden’s infrastructure spending may not take effect until later this decade, the IEA said.

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