Summer’s Gasoline Recovery Could Fizzle on Rising Infection Cases

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The summer rebound in global fuel demand could be turning into a slowdown, as analysts expect gasoline consumption to taper off due to resurgent coronavirus cases and structural changes in commuting patterns. Gasoline demand in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer, has nearly recovered to 2019 levels following the plunge in travel and business activity during the worst of the pandemic in 2020.

Coronavirus cases worldwide, however, have started to rise after largely falling in May and June, according to the Reuters global COVID-19 tracker https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps, undermining the recovery. Gasoline demand in the United States and Europe is hitting a plateau, and those two regions account for roughly a third of global petroleum consumption, making them key to the rebound in oil and refining markets.

Monthly growth in mobility and transport fuel demand are believed to have slowed in June, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a July report. Currently, the energy watchdog expects global fuel demand to reach pre-pandemic levels by next year, but analysts say that could be pushed further out if coronavirus infections and the slow pace of vaccinations worldwide further entrenches structural changes in demand – including more telecommuting and less air travel.

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