Mar 17, 2021 - Economy & Business

Telework shift will barely affect oil consumption, IEA says

IEA's new multiyear oil outlook estimates that working from home isn't widespread or sticky enough globally to have much lasting effect on oil consumption absent much stronger pro-telework policies.

Why it matters: COVID-19 prompted speculation (from yours truly and others) about whether behavioral changes happening for tragic reasons might have long-term effects on various kinds of energy demand.

  • So the new IEA analysis essentially suggests that when it comes to one of those big changes, which is commuting or lack thereof, the answer is a qualified "no."
  • They estimate that remote work is expected to keep displacing about 250,000 barrels per day of oil in the mid-2020s, which is pretty small relative to the total global oil market.

Yes, but: Stronger government telework incentives can be one part of a suite of policies that together make a real dent in oil consumption, IEA said.

"In a scenario where workers in the OECD and largest non-OECD countries work from home three and two days a week, respectively, consumption would be around 900 kb/d lower in 2026 compared to our base case," IEA said.

Go deeper