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Saudi Arabia Oil Demand - May 2017

Source: OPEC 5/16/2017, Location: Middle East

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In Saudi Arabia, March 2017 oil demand returned to a declining trend as oil demand dropped sharply by 0.24 tb/d or 10% y-o-y, with total oil demand reaching around 2.13 mb/d. On a cumulative basis from January to March, oil demand growth in Saudi Arabia was also in the negative with a decline of 0.12 tb/d, or around 6% y-o-y. Mixed performances were exhibited amongst the product categories, products linked to the power generation sector – namely crude oil for direct burning and fuel oil – fell sharply in the negative, while other fuels were in positive territory, including transportation fuels. Substitution with natural gas, particularly after the commencement of Wasit gas plant, has caused a sharp drop in direct burning of crude, by more than 92 tb/d, which equates to close to 23% y-o-y, pressuring the overall consumption figures of the country. Total demand for direct crude for burning was at 0.31 mb/d in March. Fuel oil recorded a similar trend as the product declined by around 22% y-o-y due to less power generation consumption during colder weather when air conditioning is less needed. Furthermore, diesel oil also declined, dropping by around 15% y-o-y, as a result of less consumption in the transportation and industrial sectors. On the other hand, LPG, gasoline and jet/kerosene increased during the month by around 11%, 7% and 9% y-o-y, respectively.

Going forward, oil demand growth in the Middle East faces a number of challenges, the largest being linked to substitution with natural gas as well as partial subsidy removal in Saudi Arabia, along with governmental programmes geared towards expanding the alternative fuels base. On the other hand, developments in economic activities in various countries in the region should lend support to oil demand growth in 2017.

For 2016, Middle East oil demand was rather flat, while oil demand in 2017 is projected to increase by 0.11 mb/d.

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