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2021 World Oil Outlook 2045: oil will stay the world’s main fuel over the next decades

The 2021 OPEC World Oil Outlook (WOO) by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) provides review of the global oil and energy industries offering expert analysis of many of the challenges and opportunities facing the global oil industry. The forecasts made in WOO-2021 cover the long term to 2045 and take into account the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report clearly indicates that after a massive fall in 2020, the energy market has recovered and oil demand has increased significantly in 2021 and a steady continuation of growth is projected in the long term. Between 2020 and 2045, global primary energy demand is expected to increase by 28%, with growth seen for all types of energy except coal. Renewables are expected to grow the most, ahead of gas, but oil is expected to retain its top spot in the energy mix. In figures, global energy demand is expected to rise from 275.4 mboe/d in 2020 to 352 mboe/d by 2045.

According to the report, despite a slowdown in oil demand growth and significant increase in other energy sources, oil will still retain the highest share in the global energy mix until 2045. In 2020, oil accounted for 30% of the world's energy needs. This share is set to increase to over 31%, after which it will begin to decline and reach 28% by 2045. Primary oil demand is expected to increase over the long term from 82.5 mboe/d in 2020 to 99 mboe/d in 2045.  Significant growth in demand is projected to occur in the automotive and aviation sectors.

In 2020, coal is still in second place in the global energy mix with 26.5%. The situation is expected to change dramatically by 2045, when the share of coal will decrease to about 17% and natural gas will become second largest fuel with more than 24% of the total energy mix.

Under the WOO-2021 scenario, nuclear, hydro, biomass and other renewables will continue to grow considerably over the next two and half decades. Nuclear energy rises from 14.3 mboe/d in 2020 to 22.0 mboe/d in 2045 and will comprise 6.2% of the global energy mix. 

Hydropower is set to grow from 7.5 in 2020 to 10.5 mboe/d in 2045 (3% in the total energy mix) while biomass will grow from 27.2 to 37 mboe/d (10.5% of the total energy mix).  Other renewables, led by wind and solar, are projected to expand from 6.8 mboe/d in 2020 to 36.6 mboe/d in 2045, which comprises 10.4% of the total energy mix (2.5% in 2020).

Experts predict that the global economy in 2045 will be more than twice what it was in 2020. The world's population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2045, and about 66% of the global population is projected to be urbanized.