The International Energy Agency (IEA) says aviation, the sector most affected by the pandemic, will continue to struggle, with jet fuel consumption only likely to return to 2019 levels by 2024
The woes of the sector are far from over, it explained, as travel restrictions, changing travel habits, and the relatively slow progress of vaccinations in low-income economies cap its recovery.
It added that the proliferation of online meetings and conferences, along with cost-cutting by companies, is likely to permanently dent business travel.
The worldwide pandemic and turbulent economic downturn triggered an unprecedented collapse in global oil demand of 8.7m barrels per day (mb/d) in 2020, it said.
It predicted, however, that global oil demand growth will rebound sharply in 2021, and is projected to rise by 13.1 mb/d to 2026.
In contrast to aviation, the petrochemical industry, which accounts for the majority of ethane, LPG and naphtha demand, suffered relatively little from the Covid crisis and will continue to post healthy growth, said the agency.
“Together, these products will be responsible for 70 percent of the growth in oil product demand through 2026 compared with the 2019 level,” it said.
Last year, the IEA said jet fuel demand will plunge by 39 percent or 3.1 mb/d as the recovery has been “weaker than anticipated with flight schedules still well below normal levels.”
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in its financial outlook for the global air transport industry that airlines lost US$84.3bn in 2020, yielding a net profit margin of -20.1 percent.