The International Energy Agency forecast on Wednesday that global demand for oil would grow at a weak pace of 0.9 percent this year amid uncertainty generated by the US budget negotiations, slower-than-anticipated Chinese business activity and chronically high unemployment in Europe.
The IEA's estimated nominal growth figure of 820,000 barrels per day contrasted with average growth in demand of 1.4 million b/d in non-recessionary years, a monthly report said.
"The macroeconomic environment underpinning oil demand, as of yet, shows little sign of short-term improvement," the report said.
"A string of recent developments, including the US sequester, worsening Chinese business sentiment and continued deterioration in European employment lend support to the IEA’s demand growth forecast," it added.
Global supply inched up in February meanwhile by 90,000 b/d to 90.8 million b/d, owing in large part to higher OPEC output that resulted from increased Iraqi oil supply the agency said.
Commercial oil holdings among OECD member countries rebounded by 22.5 mb/d to 2.689 billion b/d at the end of January, with stocks covering 30.7 days of demand, slightly higher than in the previous month.
Finally, the IEA estimated that global refining output would decrease to 74.8 mb/d owing to "heavy US refinery maintenance and sluggish refining activity in Europe."