VIENNA - OPEC kept its world oil demand forecast for 2012 stable on Wednesday, despite warning of continued economic uncertainty.
In its monthly report, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries saw world demand in 2012 at 88.68 million barrels per day (mbpd), almost unchanged from its previous forecast of 88.69 mbpd.
In 2013, demand was to grow to 89.50 mbpd, up 820,000 barrels per day, and compared to the 890,000-bpd hike expected in 2012.
"The sluggish OECD economy is suppressing the region's oil demand," the report said regarding 2012.
"US demand is weakening further due to a sluggish economy, the European economic turbulence is suppressing that continent's demand, and Indian demand is negatively affected by the recent massive floods."
The only exception was Japan, which has increased crude and fuel oil burning to compensate for its closed nuclear plants, the cartel said.
This pattern was set to continue into 2013.
"Total world oil demand growth is expected to take place in the non-OECD area, mainly China, India, the Middle East and Latin America," OPEC predicted.
This growth would come mostly from the industrial, transport and petrochemical sectors.
Still, an economic slowdown was expected both in developed countries and in emerging ones, which rely on exports to the OECD region, the report said.
"Global economic challenges are causing a great deal of uncertainty for the 2013 oil demand forecast," it concluded, describing US oil demand as "a wild card."
For this reason, the report provided two scenarios on top of its demand forecast for next year.
In the best-case scenario, demand would grow by 1.0 mbpd, thanks to a quick economic recovery in the United States -- thereby boosting growth in developing countries -- and stronger performances in Europe and Japan.
Demand growth could however drop as low as 650,000 bpd, with developed economies still struggling and high fuel prices discouraging consumption, OPEC warned.
The cartel also predicted that oil demand growth in 2013 could drop in countries in Asia or Latin America as they end price subsidies and introduce measures on energy conservation and fuel switching.
"The world will see a strong movement towards the use of smaller, more economical vehicles, such as hybrid and electric cars," it predicted.