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Saudi Aramco CEO sees oil demand at 90 mil b/d in COVID-19 recovery

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Saudi Aramco CEO sees oil demand at 90 mil b/d in COVID-19 recovery

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Dubai — Oil demand has rebounded close to 90 million b/d, partly reversing a slump in consumption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Aramco's president and CEO Amin Nasser has said in the transcript of an interview published on June 30.

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"The worst is behind us," said Nasser, speaking at an online event for CERAWeek organized by IHS Markit. "We went from -$40 b/d to +$40 b/d with WTI. In April we were looking at demand of about 75-80 million b/d with significant supply at that time. Currently you are looking at almost close to 90 million b/d. I'm very optimistic about the second half of this year."

S&P Global Platts Analytics is forecasting oil demand will fall year-on-year by 8.3 million b/d in 2020 to 94.2 million b/d.

"There are different forecasts looking at between 95 million and 97 million b/d by year-end. So, it will all depend on whether there will be a second wave of coronavirus or not. But I am also not as concerned about a second wave because I think we are much better prepared now," said Nasser.

Downstream, Nasser said gasoline and diesel demand were picking up to pre-COVID-19 levels and he was optimistic about the prospects for a rebound in jet fuel as more countries open up.

Aramco, the world's largest oil company by production, was first impacted by the pandemic in February, with the reduction in demand from China. However, all of the oil giant's fields and plants have been running smoothly during the pandemic, said Nasser.

"More than 50% [of the office workers] were working from home, but when it comes to field presence, everybody was working, especially in remote areas and offshore sites," said Nasser. "We were able to manage the situation very well by putting all the precautions necessary to maintain their safety and health while maintaining our operational resilience during this time."

A major concern for Aramco through the pandemic is cybersecurity.

"We had a lot of hackers that target energy companies, so we had to be making sure that we are able to provide the connectivity while protecting our network from any hackers," said Nasser.