Advertisement

OPEC cuts oil demand forecasts, BP sees ‘peak oil’ in 2020s

Click to play video 'Is oil out as the energy of choice? Dismal predictions for the fossil fuel' Is oil out as the energy of choice? Dismal predictions for the fossil fuel
WATCH: A couple of dire predictions for oil and gas as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to curb demand. But as Tomasia DaSilva reports, industry experts say it’s more important than ever.

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 Monday as it cut its forecasts.

Read more: Canada ‘very concerned’ with OPEC’s decisions amid coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau

OPEC cut its estimates for world demand by 400,000 barrels a day for both 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.

Read more: COVID-19, low oil prices leads to dramatic drop in demand for power in Alberta

“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.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'Oil price drop to historic lows amid COVID-19 pandemic' Oil price drop to historic lows amid COVID-19 pandemic
Oil price drop to historic lows amid COVID-19 pandemic

Beside 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 pick-up 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.

Read more: Oil prices are in the negative: COVID-19 rules to stay home played a huge part

Tim McMillan, the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said there are a lot of scenarios that have oil peaking and flatlining.

“Every prediction has the world using substantial amounts of oil and gas into the future, including BP, including OPEC and most certainly the International Energy Agency, so I think that Canada has a very positive role to play if we choose to,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are in a world where people aren’t flying, where we have constrained our lifestyles and we may choose to constrain our lifestyles into the future. But there are emerging economies in India and China where the use of oil and gas is putting people out of poverty.”

Read more: Higher prices motivate Canadian producers to boost oil production

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 towards renewable energy or natural gas.

BP says 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.

BP also predicts oil demand will fall dramatically over the next 30 years and renewable energy will drive consumer change.

Some energy industry insiders say it’s premature to suggest oil is dead.

“The point is what can the world afford post-COVID after all the money that’s been borrowed, after the high rate of unemployment?” energy analyst David Yager said.

Story continues below advertisement

“What the world really needs is the cheapest possible energy.”

Click to play video 'COVID-19: Stock markets in Canada, crude oil prices collapse' COVID-19: Stock markets in Canada, crude oil prices collapse
COVID-19: Stock markets in Canada, crude oil prices collapse

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage​ said oil and gas will dominate the energy mix for decades to come.

“That oil will come from somewhere, and if not Alberta, other countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia will increase their market share,” she said.

– With files from Global News’ Tomasia DaSilva