OPEC keeps 2012, 2013 demand forecasts unchanged

VIENNA - OPEC kept its world oil demand forecasts for 2012 and 2013 virtually unchanged on Wednesday, with China expected to contribute the most to growth while industrialised countries appeared to be headed for a decline.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) expects world demand to reach 88.87 million barrels per day (mbpd) this year, slightly higher than its previous forecast in March of 88.83 mbpd.
This would represent a hike of 770,000 bpd from the revised figure for 2011, the cartel said in its latest monthly report.
For 2013, it forecast 89.66 mbpd, with slow growth at the beginning of the year picking up in the second half, OPEC said.
"The largest share of this growth is expected to come from China, with 0.4 mbpd," meaning that oil demand for that country alone would reach 10.1 mpbd this year.
"In contrast, OECD (industrialised countries) demand is expected to see a contraction of 0.3 mbpd," the report said.
With the Americas making up the most demand in terms of regions, OPEC warned about developments in the United States, with oil consumption "strongly dependent on the impact of the (planned) spending cuts and newly adopted budget ceilings in the near future" as well as growing interest in alternative fuel sources.
Meanwhile, international economic sanctions including an EU oil embargo on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme continued to bite, with output there dropping to 2.67 mbpd in February, from 2.72 mbpd the previous month, OPEC said, citing secondary sources.
OPEC's second largest producer in 2011 after Saudi Arabia, Iran now lags in fourth place behind Iraq and Kuwait.
Tehran's own communications however still insist on its leading position, putting oil production at 3.7 mbpd in February, the last month for which figures were available, the report said.