PARIS, Feb 11 (AFP): The International Energy Agency yesterday issued a slight downward revision to its forecast for growth of global oil demand this year and said January supply levels were "healthy" compared with the same month in 2005.
In its monthly report for February, the IEA predicted worldwide demand for oil in 2006 would increase by 1.78 million barrels a day instead of its previous projection of 1.83 million.
Total demand is now put at about 85.1 million barrels a day in 2006.
Growth of demand in 2005 came to 1.06 million barrels a day, and the agency attributed the projected rebound this year to robust economic activity in the United States and China.
"Because the Chinese economy continues its rapid expansion and baseline 2005 demand growth was relatively weak, oil product demand growth (in China) is projected to rebound to 5.8 per cent in 2006," the IEA said.
But it cautioned that the same factors that limited Chinese demand growth last year, such as incentives to increase gasoline exports, have been apparent in the early part of 2006.
In the United States, according to the IEA, demand is seen rising by 1.7 per cent in 2006 after just 0.2 per cent last year.
Much of the increase can be attributed to a recovery from the impacts of two devastating hurricanes in oil-producing areas in 2005 as well as an expected jump in first quarter economic growth.
In general, the report said, the effect on demand of frigid weather in Europe and Russia was offset by the warmest January ever experienced in the United States.
The IEA said a year-on-year comparison of oil supply in January showed "a healthy 1.25 million barrels per day above January 2005 levels."