Amin Nasser, CEO of Aramco announced that he is still optimistic about oil demand going back to the pre-pandemic levels despite fears over the new COVID-19 variant omicron, according to media reports. He made this announcement while he was inaugurating a ceremony in Dhahran to inaugurate the unconventional Jafurah gas field.
Nasser also added, saying that oil demand is expected to reach 100 million barrels per day in 2022, reaching the pre-Covid-19 levels. Regarding the discovery of the variant of concern, saying that the markets have overreacted and the impact of omicron on demand cannot be measured without a full medical assessment.
While the Aramco chief remains optimistic, oil refinery margins in Asia have already slumped to their lowest level amid the worries about the latest variant of concern, Omicron, as there is a high chance it might bring another blow to the oil demand recovery, that has already been severely affected by the rising Covid-19 cases in Europe.
Governments from all over the world have already imposed travel curbs from South African nations during the weekend to limit the spread of Omicron that was first detected in South Africa. Scientists are already racing to find out if it is more transmissible or causes more severe disease than existing variants.
Additionally, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) has moved its meeting to Thursday so that it has more time to to assess the new variant’s impact.
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the media, “According to what is coming from the World Health Organization there are exaggerations … but I believe that the decision we took will enable us to at least gain time to better study the matter even if with limited knowledge.”