Growing demand for plastics and other petrochemicals will offset slowing car fuel consumption and keep global oil demand growing until 2050, the international energy agency (IEA) said on Monday.
Despite efforts by governments around the world to reduce pollution and carbon emissions from oil and gas, the paris-based IEA expects rapid growth in emerging economies such as India and China to boost demand for petrochemicals.
The IEA said in a report that a slowdown in oil demand from transport by 2050 would be offset by strong growth in demand from petrochemicals, driven by the growth of electric vehicles and more efficient internal combustion engines.
"The petrochemicals sector is one of the blind spots in the global energy debate and will undoubtedly be a key driver of oil demand growth for many years to come," IEA chief birol told Reuters.
According to the IEA, the petrochemicals sector will account for more than a third of global oil demand growth by 2030 and nearly half by 2050.
In 2017, the global demand for petrochemical raw materials reached 12 million barrels per day, accounting for about 12% of the total global oil demand in 2017.That number is expected to grow to nearly 18 million BPD by 2050.
Most of the oil demand growth in the global petrochemical industry by 2050 will occur in the Middle East and China, where large Numbers of petrochemical plants are being built.
Oil companies such as exxonmobil and royal Dutch shell plan to invest in new petrochemical plants in coming decades, betting on rising demand for plastics in emerging economies.
In the Middle East, Mr Birol said major oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were also investing in large petrochemical plants as they sought to make more money by converting crude directly into plastics rather than petroleum products such as petrol and diesel.