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Middle East Oil Demand - December 2016

Source: OPEC 12/28/2016, Location: Middle East

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In the Middle East, slower-than-expected oil demand requirements were registered during the month of October with oil demand in Saudi Arabia declining sharply for the second straight month. Oil demand has now declined in eight out of ten months in 2016 in Saudi Arabia, affecting the overall Middle East oil demand picture in 2016. This decline is primarily due to the continuing decline in consumption of direct crude for burning. Focusing on product performance, LPG, gasoline and fuel oil all recorded gains of around 17%, 2% and 34% y-o-y, respectively, with fuel oil being supported by power generation consumption, especially in the western part of the country. Y-t-d, hefty declines in heavy distillates, particularly in the other products category, and direct crude burning have led to a sharp drop in overall consumption of the country of 3.3% y-o-y, or 85 tb/d. This is contrary to the average oil demand growth of around 0.12 tb/d seen during the past five years. The completion of the Wasit gas plants in March 2016 has replaced some of the direct crude burning for power generation and is expected to replace even further quantities in the near future. Air traffic activities were also slower than a year ago due to the end of the seasonal travel period, as well as the high base of comparison denting growth levels. In October 2016, total oil demand in Saudi Arabia reached 2.49 mb/d.

Oil demand also declined in Kuwait, particularly in relation to the other products category, dragging overall consumption lower. Oil demand dropped by 19 tb/d, or 5.8%, y-o-y. A similar trend was also observed in Iraq, where oil demand shed around 10 tb/d, or 1.5%, y-o-y in October despite solid growth for jet/kerosene. In contrast, oil demand grew solidly in Iran and the UAE. In both countries, transportation fuels, notably gasoline, dominated the increases.

In 2017, Middle East oil demand growth may be challenged by some downside risks, due to geopolitical turbulence in the region. Oil demand is, nevertheless, expected to grow in, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan, with transportation fuels, especially gasoline and industrial fuels, and particularly diesel and residual fuel oil, playing a significant part in the overall oil demand growth for another year.

Oil demand growth in the region is projected to reach 0.03 mb/d in 2016. In 2017, it is anticipated to grow by around 0.11 mb/d.

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