China, U.S. Pushing 2006 Oil Demand Growth

Demand for oil in China and the U.S. will drive a 2.2% increase in global oil consumption this year and an anticipated seasonal fall in demand in the second quarter looks uncertain, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Jan. 17.

In 2006, global oil consumption is forecasted to average 85.1 million barrels per day (mbd), an additional 1.8 mbd compared with 2005, the IEA said, keeping its estimate unchanged. "Key factors underpinning this projection are a rebound in Chinese demand growth and more robust U.S. demand growth versus a hurricane-affected 2005 baseline," the International Energy Agency said in its monthly review of the oil market.

Demand in the U.S. hit an all-time monthly high of 21.9 mbd in December, growing by 1.7% compared with the same month in 2004.

The agency, which advises 26 countries on energy policy, also warned that a pattern of falling demand in the second quarter of the year could also change this year as a result of developments in the oil market. A key change identified by the IEA was a trend in consuming countries of keeping increased levels of inventories because of instability, most recently in producing countries Iran and Nigeria."Recent events in the Middle East and West Africa have underscored uncertainties on the supply side and are likely to reinforce the recent trend towards a higher level of inventory demand," the IEA said.

Other risks included a lack of spare capacity in the production system and "statistical uncertainty", which is a form of unreported or unmeasured supply, demand and stocks.

The agency also said that it had revised down its forecast for growth of demand for oil in 2005 to 1.3% from a previous estimate of 1.4%.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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