(EnergyAsia, March 26 2013, Tuesday) — The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said global liquid fuels consumption exceeded production in the first two months of 2013, resulting in a 1.1‐million b/d average draw in global oil stocks

Despite the gloom surrounding the European and Japanese economies, the agency has kept its forecasts for record world oil demand to hold well above 90 million b/d this year and above 91 million b/d in 2014.

In its March short-term energy outlook report, the agency said it expects world oil consumption to rise to 90.13 million b/d in 2013, and to 91.53 million b/d in 2014, slightly lower than the previous month’s forecasts for 90.21 million b/d and 91.62 million b/d, respectively.

Significantly, the EIA lowered its forecasts for crude oil prices this year, with US WTI crude down by 1% to average US$92.91 a barrel and North Sea Brent trading a dollar lower at US$108.33 a barrel.

For 2014, it held WTI unchanged at US$92.17 while Brent will fall to average US$100.75 a barrel.

But the agency kept open the possibility of upside surprises in the coming months.

“Oil market balances have not changed dramatically since last month’s short-term energy outlook (STEO), although somewhat lower expectations for production in Libya and Iraq, along with an increase in unplanned outages in countries outside the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), implies slightly tighter conditions in 2013 than previously projected,” said the EIA.

“Positive economic indicators including upward revisions in estimates of Chinese GDP growth and continuing employment growth in the US could lend support to higher prices, but over the past week they have been counterbalanced by renewed uncertainty regarding economic growth in Europe.”

EIA predicts China’s liquid fuels consumption could rise by 450,000 b/d in 2013 and by 510,000 b/d in 2014, up significantly compared with 380,000 b/d in 2012.

China’s growing oil appetite will more than offset the projected combined 300,000 b/d decline in OECD consumption in 2013 to follow on last year’s 500,000 b/d drop. OECD oil demand will stabilise next year as a result of recovery in European economic growth.