Gasoline Demand in Non-OECD Asia: Drivers and Constraints

Global oil demand is undergoing a structural shift. This is broadly reflected in changing demand dynamics over the last 15 years. While OECD demand decreased by 3 million barrels per day (mb/d) from 2000-15, demand in non-OECD countries grew by 21 mb/d (IEA, 2015). This shift is characterised by two developments: first, the rapid growth in China’s oil consumption from 2000-13, and second, the subsequent ‘jump’ in India’s oil demand growth – which overtook China’s in 2015 to emerge as the main engine of non-OECD Asian oil demand growth. As the emerging market economies of non-OECD Asia continue to industrialise, rising per capita incomes are likely to further underpin this structural shift. The shift is particularly visible in gasoline demand – driven primarily by transport – which has defied expectations in terms of the sources of demand growth. Contrary to those expectations, the centre of growth has shifted from West of Suez markets to non-OECD Asia, which had previously been dominated by distillates. Average gasoline demand growth in Asia has nearly doubled from 130 kb/d a year from 2005-10, to 290 kb/d from 2011 onwards. At the same time, climate change mitigation and growing concerns over air quality imply that Asia’s economic growth will occur in a carbon-constrained world, and non-OECD Asia may not follow the trajectories of the OECD countries. Given this context, this paper investigates two research questions: first, what are the key drivers of gasoline demand growth in non-OECD Asia, based on historical trends? And second, what are the constraints to gasoline demand growth in this region? The first question is investigated using statistical analyses on a panel dataset of 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, of which over half are non-OECD countries. The second question, driven by regional policies, is investigated by looking in depth at the cases of India and China. The paper gives a broad insight into the drivers and constraints on Asian gasoline demand, focusing on the transport sector as a key variable.

By: Anupama Sen , Michal Meidan , Miswin Mahesh