Oil demand in the Middle East stayed above 5 mb/d for the sixth straight month, with demand in October higher y/y by a strong 0.395 mb/d (8.5%), at 5.058 mb/d, despite easing m/m in line with seasonal averages. We expect the region's oil demand to continue growing, boosted by demographic expansion, strong economic growth and rising crude burn during the summer months. In 2011, the swing in Middle Eastern demand from winter lows to summer highs was 0.99 mb/d, with Saudi Arabia's at 0.75 mb/d. This year, the swing was near 1.2 mb/d, with the Saudi swing at nearly 1 mb/d. We expect the swings to remain large, despite the Kingdom's domestic natural gas output target of 15.5 bcf/d by 2015, due to infrastructure constraints.
Saudi Arabia again led the demand growth in October, with total oil consumption at 2.268 mb/d, higher y/y by 0.274 mb/d (13.7%). A weak base aggravated the y/y growth somewhat, due to a later Ramadan and an earlier peak in summer temperatures last year. Even beyond the base effects and seasonal decline in crude burn m/m, however, the Kingdom's underlying oil consumption remains strong. Indeed, October's growth was underpinned by gasoline and middle distillates (combined kerosene and diesel) demand, which were higher y/y by 53 thousand b/d (12%), and 58 thousand b/d (18.1%). Demand in Kuwait recovered from the fall in September, to be higher y/y by 17 thousand b/d (6.2%), while UAE and Iraqi oil demand continued on their strong growth trajectory, higher y/y by 55 (25.9%) and 50 (8.4%) thousand b/d respectively. In the year-to-October, the region's oil demand is running higher y/y by 0.26 mb/d (5.4%), with Saudi Arabia (6.9%) leading the growth.