Global demand for oil is expected to remain “robust” in 2022 and overcome short-term disruption caused by the omicron coronavirus variant, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Tuesday.
But the Saudi-led group of top oil producers warned future virus strains and pandemic-related travel restrictions could threaten the global economic recovery.
The positive forecast comes as prices for the benchmark Brent crude oil reached their highest level since 2014.
Omicron’s rapid worldwide spread forced countries to reimpose travel bans and social restrictions following its emergence in November.
Studies have since suggested the highly transmissible variant causes less severe illness, providing optimism for a sustained economic recovery in 2022 driving demand for oil.
OPEC’s monthly oil market report provided a “robust oil demand forecast,” with its estimate for growth of demand unchanged from previous predictions at 4.2 million barrels per day in 2022.
Total global consumption is expected to reach 100.8 million barrels per day this year.
OPEC predicted omicron’s impact “to be mild and short-lived” but said “uncertainties remain regarding new variants and renewed mobility restrictions, amid an otherwise steady global economic recovery.”
Although “supply chain bottlenecks, ongoing trade issues and their impact on industrial and transportation fuel requirements remain key factors of uncertainty,” the report said the oil market “is expected to remain well-supported throughout 2022.”