September 14, 2020 10:30 AM, EDT

OPEC Forecasts Lower Demand; BP Sees ‘Peak Oil’ in 2020s

BP says it expects demand for crude oil to peak in the early 2020s.Bernard Looney, CEO of BP, is photographed in London on Sept. 11. The company said it expects crude oil demand to peak in the early 2020s. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

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LONDON — Developing countries’ difficulty in containing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic will keep a lid on global oil demand, particularly in India, the OPEC cartel said Sept. 14 as it cut its forecasts.

OPEC lowered its estimates for world demand by 400,000 barrels a day for this year and next. It now sees a drop in demand of 9.5 million barrels a day in 2020 and a rise of 6.6 million barrels in 2021.

“Risks remain elevated and skewed to the downside, particularly in relation to the development of COVID-19 infection cases and potential vaccines,” the cartel said in a monthly report on the industry.

Besides the trouble in some developing countries, which together with the United States have had a harder time than Europe or China in limiting the first wave of virus contagions, OPEC said it expected a slow pickup in energy demand for transportation in rich countries. Airlines around the world are flying only a fraction of their normal amount of traffic, with a full recovery not expected for another couple of years.

The price of oil plunged during the initial phase of the pandemic as businesses and transportation ground to a halt around the world. The uncertainty surrounding the industry, coupled with concerns about climate change, has pushed some major oil companies to shift more aggressively toward renewable energy or natural gas.

BP said it expects demand for crude oil to peak in the early 2020s. If governments become more aggressive about reducing carbon emissions, demand might never recover from the current slump, its said in a report on the industry’s outlook.

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