Due to the coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns, global consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels crashed by 9 percent to 92.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Friday, nothing this was the largest drop in EIA’s series dating back to 1980.
The world will return to more normal consumer behavior this year, and a continued recovery in economies is set to contribute to rising oil consumption in 2021 as the year progresses. EIA expects in its January Short-Term Energy Outlook that global liquid fuels consumption will grow by 5.6 million bpd this year, or by 6 percent compared to 2020, and rise by another 3.3 million bpd in 2022.
The United States will contribute with a 1.4 million bpd consumption increase to the growth in 2021, the EIA forecasts.
Oil consumption will rise this year thanks to both economic growth and a return to more normal travel patterns by the middle of the year, which will also have a small effect on oil consumption growth in 2022.
Despite the expected growth in global oil consumption in 2021, EIA still forecasts it to average below pre-pandemic levels—at 97.8 million bpd, it would be 3 percent less than the 2019 level.
OPEC also sees oil demand growing this year from the crash in 2020. Yet, at an expected 95.9 million bpd in 2021, oil consumption would still be nearly 5 million bpd below the pre-crisis levels from 2019.
“Oil demand is not projected to fully recover from the 2020 slump,” said OPEC, which estimates 2020 demand to have crashed by 9.8 million bpd to average 90 million bpd.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), for its part, cut in its January report its estimate for oil demand growth for this year by 300,000 bpd to 5.5 million bpd. The IEA expects oil demand to average 96.6 million bpd in 2021, after crashing by an all-time high of 8.8 million bpd in 2020 under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic.