Press Release


LEI webinar on what oil demand may look like after the Covid-19 crisis

BOSTON, MA, June 25, 2020. On June 29, 2020 London Economics International Chief Economist Marie Fagan, in association with the US Association for Energy Economics, will present a webinar “Taking a look ahead: The long-term impacts of a crisis on oil demand.”

LEI examined data for four decades of history starting in 1976 and measured the oil intensity of global economic activity (in terms of barrels of oil per day, per million dollars of global GDP).  LEI’s main finding was that declines in oil intensity—whether driven by high oil prices or structural changes to the  economy, tended to resemble stair-steps, rather than gradual changes (see Figure 1). And once oil intensity fell, it did not recover to previous levels.

Figure 1. Oil intensity of the global economy—a descending staircase

Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017 and World Bank

The down staircase pattern means that even when oil demand recovers after this current crisis, it will not get to previous levels with respect to economic activity. The oil industry has been aware that that slower demand growth was probably on the horizon; the pandemic crisis has accelerated this probably by many years.

The research presented in the podcast was conducted for Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy in 2018-2109. A condensed version of this research paper is available here.  The webinar is hosted by the US Association for Energy Economics and is available to the public at the USAEE webinars.