PARIS, (Reuters) – Oil use will probably peak in emerging markets by early next decade, a senior adviser to Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said on Thursday in a further sign the concept of peak demand has crept into the industry mainstream.
Interest in the view oil demand may soon reach a high point and then fall back has grown following a drop in global oil use last year caused by the economic crisis, as well as efforts to combat climate change and use fuel more efficiently.
“I think that peak demand will come before peak of supply,” said Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, advisor to Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, in answer to questions at a conference in Paris.
“The demand in emerging economies will take time to peak but definitely it will peak maybe this decade or early next decade,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. Others that have forecast peak demand include oil major BP Plc, whose Chief Executive Tony Hayward earlier this year said that global demand would reach a high point after 2020.
A six-year oil price rally that ended in 2008 had led to increased interest in the theory that world oil supply may be nearing its peak as easily accessible reserves dwindle.
That issue faded as economic slowdown eroded demand.
One leading proponent of the peak supply theory stands by his view conventional oil demand has peaked, but has also turned his attention to peak prices and peak demand.
“We’re sort of at peak demand right now,” retired petroleum geologist Colin Campbell, who has long been associated with the belief the world’s oil supplies are dwindling, told Reuters earlier this month.