OPEC sees positive oil market outlook, but downside risks persist

OPEC sees positive oil market outlook, but downside risks persist

LONDON: OPEC sees a generally positive oil market outlook with last year’s uncertainty easing, but downside risks caused by the pandemic persist, the group’s secretary general said on Tuesday.

“We have come a long way from a year ago,” Mohammad Barkindo said. “The days of GDP and oil demand figures being in the red because of the pandemic-induced shock appear to be behind us.”

Barkindo was speaking before Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) which reviews the oil market for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other allies, a group know as OPEC+.

OPEC+ ministers hold a full meeting on Thursday.

The secretary general said OPEC saw oil demand growth in 2021 at 5.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to about 96 million bpd. That compares with about 100 million bpd in 2019, before the demand plummeted in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“The encouraging global economic developments and resilient demand in Asia are upside factors,” he said, although he said the persisting pandemic still meant there were downside risks and so there was only cause for cautious optimism.

“Progress on COVID-19 vaccinations continues in many countries, but the current pace shows that many developing countries risk being left behind,” he added.

The JTC reviews oil market supply and demand balances as well as how well members of the alliance are complying with their agreed cuts in production.

“It looks good and healthy,” an OPEC delegate said, referring to the latest supply and demand balance for 2021. “But there are still some thoughts to be cautious.”

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