By Alex Lawler/Reuters
LONDON: OPEC left its forecast for world oil demand growth in 2012 unchanged for a second month, saying there were signs that a slowdown in global economic activity is easing.
In a monthly report on Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said world oil demand would rise by 860,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2012, steady from the previous assessment.
The group, which pumps more than a third of the world’s oil, had cut its growth forecast from an initial estimate 1.3 million bpd due to a weaker economic outlook. It said on Thursday the outlook was leveling off.
“Some encouraging signs have pointed at a stabilization of the slowdown in economic activity,” said the report, which is written by OPEC economists at the group’s Vienna headquarters.
“The US is at present experiencing better-than-expected momentum and, along with the recovery in Japan and higher exports from Germany, this should provide some support for the global economic recovery.”
OPEC also reported higher supply from its members as Libya’s oil industry recovers, with production rising to 31.31 million bpd in March, 1.31 million bpd above target levels according to secondary sources, despite lower Iranian production.
The group, in a bid to be more transparent, also began issuing production figures as reported to OPEC headquarters by member-countries. Ten members, all except Algerian and Ecuador, provided March figures.
OPEC has for many years used secondary sources to monitor its output, a legacy of past disputes about how much oil members said they were pumping.
According to the “direct communication” figures, Iran has told OPEC its output was steady in March at 3.76 million bpd and has risen so far in 2012, effectively denying that supply has suffered due to sanctions on Tehran.
Venezuela, which has long argued its production is higher than secondary sources say, told OPEC it pumped 2.82 million bpd in March, while secondary sources estimated Venezuelan production at 2.38 million bpd.