(EnergyAsia, March 2 2011, Wednesday) — Oil demand will likely hit a record high this year but any further rise in prices will likely be capped by higher production by the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) and release of stockpiles from the developed economies, said the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Increased output by Iraq boosted OPEC’s total production to a two-year high of 29.85 million b/d in January, up 280,000 b/d from December, the IEA said.

The energy watchdog increased its 2011 oil demand  growth forecast by 50,000 b/d to 1.46 million b/d. World oil demand for the first time ever will top 90 million b/d late this year, it said.

Spare capacity and stocks could limit any further price hikes this year, said the IEA, which advises 28 consumer member countries mostly from the developed economies.

Oil prices have already risen above $100 a barrel this year to their highest levels since August 2008, but the IEA said it is confident that OPEC will help check any further price rises. It praised Saudi Arabia for quietly raising output beyond its quota to slow down the recent sharp rise in oil prices.

Iran and Nigeria cut their output but Angola, Libya, the UAE and Venezuela raised their production in January.