OPEC raised its global oil demand forecast for the first quarter of 2022 but maintained its full-year growth forecast, saying the Omicron coronavirus variant would have a minor impact as the world adjusted to the pandemic.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said in a monthly report that it expects oil demand to average 99.13 million barrels per day (BPD) in the first quarter of 2022, an increase of 1.11 million BPD from its previous forecast.
"Some of the recovery previously expected in the fourth quarter of 2021 has been shifted to the first quarter of 2022, followed by a more steady recovery throughout the second half of 2022," OPEC said in the report.
"Moreover, the impact of the new Omicron variant is projected to be mild and short-lived, as the world becomes better equipped to manage COVID-19 and its related challenges."
Following last year's historic decline at the start of the pandemic, OPEC maintained its forecast that global oil demand will grow by 5.65 million BPD in 2021.
OPEC expects further growth in demand of 4.15 million BPD in 2022, unchanged from last month, pushing global consumption above 2019 levels.
OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, are gradually unwinding last year's record output cuts. Despite concerns about the new variant, OPEC+ agreed earlier this month to increase monthly output by 400,000 BPD in January.
According to the report, OPEC output increased by 290,000 BPD in November to 27.72 million BPD, led by increases in the top two producers Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as recovery from outages in Nigeria.