Global oil demand to hit 25-year low in April, IEA says

Published: 20 April 2020 - 5:30 a.m.
By: Carla Sertin

Global oil demand is expected to fall by a record 9.3 million barrels per day (mbpd) year-on-year in 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) wrote in its monthly report. Demand in April is estimated to be 29 mb/d lower than a year ago, down to a level last seen in 1995.

The impact of containment measures in 187 countries and territories has brought mobility almost to a halt. For the second quarter of 2020, demand is expected to be 23.1 mb/d below the same period in 2019. The recovery in 2H20 will be gradual; in December demand will still be down 2.7 mb/d y-o-y, the IEA predicts.

Global oil supply is set to plunge by a record 12 mb/d in May, after OPEC+ forged a historic output deal to cut production by 9.7 mb/d from an agreed baseline level. Because April production was high, the effective cut is 10.7 mb/d. Additional reductions are set to come from other countries, with the US and Canada seeing the largest declines. Total non-OPEC output falls could reach 5.2 mb/d in 4Q20, and for the year as a whole output may be 2.3 mb/d lower than last year.

Refining throughput in 2020 is forecast to fall 7.6 mb/d y-o-y to 74.3 mb/d on sharply reduced demand for fuels. Global refinery intake is expected to plummet by 16 mb/d y-o-y in 2Q20, with widespread run cuts and shutdowns in all regions. Although refinery runs are falling, product stocks are still expected to build by 6 mb/d. In 2H20, refining activity will slowly recover as the global market moves into deficit.

Early data show China’s implied stock build in 1Q20 at 2.1 mb/d, and US stocks increased by 0.5 mb/d. OECD data show that industry stocks in February fell by 35.4 mb to 2 878 mb as a draw for products more than offset a build in crude. Total OECD oil stocks stood 42.4 mb below the five-year average and, due to the weak outlook, now provide 79.2 days of forward demand coverage. In March, floating storage of crude oil increased by 22.9 mb (0.7 mb/d) to 103.1 mb.

Twin demand and supply shocks caused oil futures prices to fall by 40% in March. Brent has recovered modestly from an 18-year low as producers reached agreement to curtail output and is trading at $31/bbl. Weak demand pushed prices for crude grades such as WTI Midland and West Canadian Select below $10/bbl. Cracks for gasoline and jet fuel continued to suffer as containment measures were introduced.


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