(Reuters) – Global oil demand is recovering and could return to around pre-pandemic levels next year, the chief executives of Saudi Aramco and Chevron Corp told an oil and gas conference on Tuesday.
The coronavirus pandemic last year wiped out a fifth of worldwide demand for fuel as billions of people stopped traveling and sheltered at home.
Global demand for oil has recovered to around 94 million barrels per day (bpd) and could reach 99 million barrels per day (bpd)in 2022, said Aramco CEO Amin Nasser at IHS Markit’s online CERAWeek conference.
Economies are improving in China, India and East Asia, with vaccine deployment as “cause for optimism” in the West, Nasser said. “I see demand and the market continuing to improve from here, especially from the second half of this year,” he said.
Diesel demand is at or above pre-pandemic levels due to door-to-door deliveries, though jet fuel lags as people avoid long flights, said Chevron CEO Michael Wirth, who spoke on a panel with Nasser.
Both executives are bullish on natural gas. Saudi Arabia has targeted generating half of its electricity from natural gas and half from renewables by 2030.
Emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas that is the main component of natural gas – should be reduced and robustly monitored, Wirth said, adding that he expects greater regulation from the Biden administration.
“As we’ve seen recently in Texas and not too long before that in California, when the demands on a grid are at an elevated level we need to make sure we have reliable grid management and reliable power supply,” Wirth said. “And natural gas should play a very, very important role.”
(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Marguerita Choy)