Global demand for oil will increase significantly next year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), putting further pressure on prices.
In its monthly study of market trends, the IEA said demand would rise by an average of 2.2 million barrels a day next year, up from 1.5 million in 2007. But it expects Opec members to lift output to cover the surge in demand. Oil prices have surged in recent weeks, topping $76 a barrel, on supply worries and violence in oil-rich Nigeria.
Brent crude continues to trade close to its all-time high, above $78 a barrel, although it eased slightly in early trading on Friday, down 5 cents at $76.35. A barrel of US light, sweet crude was trading down 6 cents at $72.50. The IEA, which advises industrialised nations on energy issues, said higher demand next year would require Opec members to supply an estimated 600,000 barrels more oil a day.
It believes Opec's estimated output of 35.4 million barrels a day in 2008 - an increase of one million on this year - will comfortably cover demand of up to 32.3 million barrels a day. "Overall, both in terms of spare upstream capacity and refinery flexibility, 2008 looks at this stage to be slightly more comfortable than 2006 and 2007," the IEA report said. The IEA recently forecast that demand would rise by an average of 2.2% a year until 2012, raising fresh concerns about whether supply would be able to keep pace. (news.bbc.co.uk)