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Higher prices could hurt global oil demand: OPEC
by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) June 10, 2011

The OPEC oil cartel on Friday held steady its forecast for world oil demand growth this year, but warned that rising prices could dampen global consumption.

"Should higher international oil prices persist, then this might... put more weight on the downward risk" to global oil demand and "this risk might be translated into a reduction of current growth by 200,000 barrels per day (bpd)," the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its latest monthly oil market report.

OPEC said it expected global oil demand to increase by 1.59 percent or 1.38 million bpd to 88.14 million bpd in 2011.

That is little changed from the cartel's previous forecast for an increase of 1.63 percent or 1.41 million bpd.

"A volatile oil market is making future oil demand estimates hard to manage," OPEC said.

"Many variables have been affecting oil demand worldwide. The Japanese earthquake and economic uncertainty in the US are keeping oil demand estimates continually in an adjustment mode and are imposing a downside risk for the year's forecasts."

In Japan, the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March had caused oil demand to plunge in March and April, and it is forecast to worsen in May and June.

In the United States, too, data showed much weaker oil consumption than anticipated.

"China's economy, on the other hand, is roaring ahead of all expectations" and that would help partially offset the weaker growth in the US, the report said.

"That said, it is too early to alter the existing forecast for world oil demand as the risks are nearly balanced with regard to upward and downward movements," OPEC said.

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