The Paris-based International Energy Agency is predicting that global demand for oil will increase to a record 86.6 million barrels per day (bpd) this year. The previous record was 86.5 million in 2007.

Oil consumption fell to 84 million bpd in the second quarter of 2009 and the height of the recession before demand started to pick up in Asia, the Middle East and North America.

The agency’s Oil Market Report says that while European oil refineries are operating at their lowest level in 17 years, refineries in China, India and Russia achieved record production in February.

The IEA predicts that continuing high oil prices will lead to major oil-consuming nations to invest more heavily in alternative energy.

The price of a barrel of crude oil is widely expected to rise towards USD100 later this year.

Analysts say that although the economic recession has hit oil demand in the West, economic growth in emerging markets – especially China – is driving global oil consumption upwards.

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