OPEC's Barkindo sees China as bright spot in challenging demand scenario

OPEC's Barkindo sees China as bright spot in challenging demand scenario

Oil demand growth in China is currently the only certainty, with consumption in the country seen rising through the remainder of 2020 and recovering completely in 2021, but the rest of Asia will not see a full recovery to pre-crisis levels during 2021, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo told S&P Global Platts.

"In the September edition of OPEC's Monthly Oil Market Report, we have caveated all of our forecasts by stressing the fact that the current outlook is very uncertain," Barkindo said in a written interview to Platts ahead of the 36th Asia Pacific Petroleum Virtual Conference over Sept. 14-16.

"The latest oil demand information for the Other Asian region, which includes India but excludes China, points to the downside," Barkindo said.

While noting that India's oil demand decline accelerated to around 0.7 million b/d year on year in August -- compared to a decline of 0.5 million b/d in July, Barkindo said: "Under the current circumstances, it will be challenging for oil demand to return to growth before 2021."

Barkindo, however, added that OPEC's forecast is based on its assumption that Chinese oil demand recovery will continue through the remainder of 2020 as its economy is on the path to recovery, particularly seen at the start of the second half of the year amid reporting fewer COVID-19 infection cases.

"However, as I said, there remains a high degree of uncertainty with regard to the immediate term forecast, especially taking into account the inelastic relationship between GDP and oil demand during times like these," he said.