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Energy

RPT-UPDATE 2-Vitol CEO: Gasoline, diesel demand likely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels by Q4 2021

(Repeats story with no changes in text)

* Expects global oil inventory to fall by 300 mln bbls by end-2020

* 2021 to see similar drawdowns in global oil inventory as in 2020

SINGAPORE, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Global oil demand in transportation sectors, with the exception of jet fuel, could return to pre-pandemic levels by the fourth quarter of 2021, draining excess supplies from the market, Vitol’s Chief Executive Officer Russell Hardy said.

Global oil inventories grew by 1.2 billion barrels in storage tanks and on the water after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in April, Hardy said at the virtual Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference.

“The market is slowly chewing through that excess inventory,” he said, adding that about 300 million barrels have been drawn down from this year’s peak and the company expects a similar volume to be taken out by year-end.

“In 2021, we see the market probably drawing similar levels again and that gets us back to normal stock levels towards the end of 2021,” Hardy said.

Diesel and gasoline demand will likely have recovered by the fourth quarter next year, returning to pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019, he also said.

“That’s normal oil demand with the exception of jet fuel. Jet has got a long way to go as this conference is evidence to people are not moving around,” Hardy said.

This is the first time in 36 years of existence that the APPEC conference, Asia’s biggest gathering of oil traders, is being held virtually because of the difficulties in travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global demand for short-haul flights is running at 50% compared with pre-pandemic levels, while long-haul flight demand is at 30%, Hardy said.

Aviation data firm OAG last week said the number of scheduled flights operating globally in the week to Sept. 7 was about half the number operated for the same week last year. (Reporting by Florence Tan and Roslan Khasawneh; Additional reporting by Koustav Samanta; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue)

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