Demand For OPEC Oil Up Despite Easing In Key Regions

OPEC's estimate for demand for its oil in 2006 is up by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), even if high prices are reducing growth in oil demand in certain key regions, the cartel said in a June 19 report.

"The estimated demand for OPEC crude in 2006 is expected to average 28.7 million bpd, representing an upward revision of 0.1 million bpd versus last month," the 11-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its monthly report.

OPEC said "world oil demand in 2006 is forecast to grow 1.4 million bpd or 1.6% to average 84.6 million bpd, broadly unchanged from last month's estimate."

But it said that "even though the largest share of the increase in world oil demand growth is mainly in the developing countries, signs indicate an easing in oil demand, partly due to high oil prices."

The report said: "In terms of oil demand, with the exception of OPEC member countries and China, the dampening effect of higher oil prices has been moderately influencing world oil demand growth more than the healthy economy, which is supposed to strengthen inventory demand."

It said that despite the start of the summer driving season in the United States, "U.S. oil demand has not picked up as it should be due mainly to high gasoline prices." But "U.S. oil demand is expected to halt its decline with the relief of stronger gasoline and middle distillate demand and show an increase in the second quarter of 2006."

OPEC's report said that in Europe "even though economic indicators are strengthening and the weather was colder in the first quarter of the year, oil demand figures are not picking up in the second quarter to reflect the economic growth and that can be attributed to a certain degree to the high oil prices." But China "is showing strong economic growth, which has translated into medium-strong demand for energy."

In China, "all supporting energy drivers such as industrial production, inland cargoes, agriculture, construction and passenger transportation are showing healthy growth" and summer temperatures "could boost demand for electricity," OPEC said.

It said that "China's strong economic boom has increased oil demand in the first half, resulting in an upward revision of 20,000 bpd for the entire year.

"Chinese oil demand is now expected to grow by almost 0.5 million bpd to average 7 million bpd in 2006," the OPEC report said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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