The outlook for crude oil and natural gas markets is uncertain, said Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency at the June 23 launch of the agency's Medium Term Oil and Gas Markets 2010 publication in Paris.
The new outlook forecasts demand and supply to 2015. Under IEA's higher-growth scenario, with strong gross domestic product growth, global oil demand rises to 92 million b/d by 2015. Under a scenario with slower GDP growth, worldwide oil demand is seen averaging 90 million b/d by 2015.
"Oil and gas markets are starting to show signs of recovery, but the impact of the recession differs across regions, and the outlook remains very uncertain," Tanaka said.
In both oil and gas markets, IEA sees a dichotomy between member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and non-OECD countries, with strong growth in China, India, and the Middle East vs. weaker demand elsewhere, especially in Europe with its fragile economy.
These contrasting trends make it difficult to see how oil and gas markets will develop in the medium term, but what is clear, IEA said, is that both will need more investment, a greater focus on energy efficiency, and improved data.
IEA warns that oil supplies could tighten without improved efficiency and a diversification of transport fuels. The agency also points out the role of non-OECD countries—where almost all growth in oil demand is to be found—and the importance of transportation in driving demand for fuels.
Tanaka said the oil-supply outlook shows a marked improvement from a year ago, and that while non-OPEC supply continues to grow slowly, OPEC oil and natural gas liquids account for the bulk of the agency's forecast for 5.4 million b/d of production growth to 2015.
Looking at gas markets, the new report says that demand modeling for the OECD countries indicates a return to 2008 demand levels by 2012 but with significant variation between regions. Demand recovery in Europe will be slower than elsewhere.
China is an area of strong gas growth, as the outlook for demand doubling to 140 billion cu m by 2015 from 2007 is now seen as a conservative forecast, IEA said. This would make China a bigger gas consumer than any OECD country except the US.