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OPEC raises world oil demand forecast as China reopens

PARIS, France - The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raised its world oil demand forecast for 2023 on Tuesday after top consumer China lifted its zero-COVID policy.

The Saudi-led oil cartel expects demand to grow by 2.3 million barrels per day to an average of 101.87 million barrels per day this year.

This is 100,000 a day more than the previous estimate, which was already above pre-COVID levels.

"Key to oil demand growth in 2023 will be the return of China from its mandated mobility restrictions and the effect this will have on the country, the region and the world," OPEC said in its monthly market report.

After almost three years of stringent health restrictions, Beijing in December abruptly ended the zero-COVID policy that had battered the economy and caused widespread protests.

World oil demand jumped to 101.17 million barrels per day in the last three months of 2022, compared to 100.79 mbd in the same period before the pandemic in 2019.

Despite growing demand, 13-nation OPEC and its a 10-country group of producers led by Russia, together known as OPEC+, agreed in October to reduce output by two million barrels per day until the end of this year.

Last week, Russia said it will slash crude production by five percent from March after Western countries imposed a price cap on its petroleum products over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. -- Agence France-Presse