The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said that it now expects world oil demand to grow by 900,000 barrels a day in 2010.
OPEC, supplier of about 35 percent of the world's crude, raised its demand forecast to 85.24 million barrels per day, roughly 100,000 barrels per day higher than its February projections, according to AP. It also said demand for OPEC crude was estimated at 29 million barrels a day — some 200,000 barrels per day more than its previous month's forecast — but noted that members were still overproducing.
Describing 2009 as "the worst year in the industry in oil demand since the oil crisis in the 1980s," the 12-member producer bloc said in its March report that global oil demand "has been highly dependent upon the world economy, supported by government-led stimulus plans."
"These stimulus plans have already done a great job of jump-starting many sectors of the economy, including energy," OPEC said, the same source reports.
OPEC follows the U.S. government's energy forecaster in anticipating higher oil demand for this year, according to Reuters. The upward revision from OPEC was unexpected, since its February report had focused on downside risks to the demand outlook. The group is widely expected to keep its output target steady when it meets on March 17 in Vienna, because oil prices are trading above $80 a barrel, the top of the $70-$80 range many OPEC members said they prefer.
“Questions remain as to how long governments will be able to afford supporting their economies,” OPEC said in the report, Bloomberg reports. “Should this support diminish, then world oil demand would of course be impacted.” The increase in projected demand is offset by stronger production from countries outside the group. Non-OPEC supply is expected to climb 410,000 barrels a day this year to 51.43 million barrels a day. That increase is 80,000 barrels a day more than OPEC forecast last month.
According to Reuters, the report said demand for OPEC crude was expected to average 28.94 million bpd this year — less than current output but an increase of 190,000 bpd from the previous assessment. OPEC's 11 members subject to oil output limits pumped 26.811 million bpd in February, the report said. That represents compliance with agreed supply targets of just 53 percent, according to Reuters calculations.