OPEC has cut its world oil demand forecast for the last quarter of 2021 due to concerns about the Delta coronavirus variant.
The oil producers’ organisation said that a further recovery would be partially delayed until next year when consumption will exceed pre-pandemic rates.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries revealed in its monthly report it expects oil demand to average 99.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in the fourth quarter of 2021, down 110,000 bpd from last month's forecast.
"The increased risk of COVID-19 cases primarily fuelled by the Delta variant is clouding oil demand prospects going into the final quarter of the year," OPEC said in the report.
"As a result, second-half 2021 oil demand has been adjusted slightly lower, partially delaying the oil demand recovery into first-half 2022."
Governments, companies and traders are closely monitoring the speed that oil demand recovers from last year's crash.
Despite the downward revision to the fourth-quarter, OPEC said world oil demand in the whole of 2021 would rise by 5.96 million bpd, virtually unchanged from last month.
The growth forecast for 2022 was adjusted to 4.15 million bpd, compared to 3.28 million bpd in last month's report and an estimate of 4.2 million bpd given by OPEC sources during the group's last meeting on September 1.
"The pace of recovery in oil demand is now assumed to be stronger and mostly taking place in 2022," OPEC said. "As vaccination rates rise, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be better managed and economic activities and mobility will firmly return to pre-COVID-19 levels."
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