Oil demand is set to recover to pre-coronavirus levels by 2022, once a vaccine is developed by the end of next year, said Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser, at the Energy Intelligence Forum.
“The worst is definitely behind us,” he said at the event held on Tuesday. “We are seeing a recovery.”
In an interview with Energy Intelligence, speaking about the downturn as a result of the pandemic, Amin remarked: “My generation hasn’t seen anything like this. I don’t think the world has seen anything like this…But we have been able to manage this downturn while executing one of the biggest acquisitions in the world, the $69 billion Sabic acquisition. We are confident that things will be better in the future.”
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Nasser was voted Energy Intelligence’s Energy Executive of the Year and the award was presented during the consultancy firm’s inaugural Energy Intelligence Forum, being held virtually.
The Saudi Aramco chief said the current global oil demand was 90 million bpd, and was “picking up,” led mainly from east Asian countries, with China close to pre-pandemic levels.
Nasser's outlook was more optimistic than the International Energy Agency (IEA) which had said in a report released earlier in the day that the oil market's full recovery will take until 2023.
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The Aramco CEO at the same time warned of a looming supply gap because of dwindling investment throughout the global upstream sector. “The quantum of upstream investment this year is 33 percent lower than last year. If this continues for another five years, 9 million bpd of supply will disappear. This will have a significant impact.”
Nasser said there should be a correction in the level of investment, otherwise a supply crunch could arise in middle to long term.
He admitted that like all oil and gas companies, Aramco had also been severely hit by the economic downturn and oil price crash caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that the coronavirus affected the company’s plans to develop its LNG sector, which had to be shelved for the time being.
Saudi Aramco’s Q3 results are scheduled to be announced on November 3.
In December 2019, Saudi Aramco executed a local listing on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul exchange, floating a 1.5 percent stake, making it the world’s most valuable company at the time.
According to him, Saudi Aramco was prepared for an international listing when it underwent the initial IPO.
The Saudi government will decide whether to follow up with a listing on an international market, Nasser said.