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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The latest IEA analysis of oil markets provides a window into how long it will take for life to return to normal despite the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

Driving the news: This morning the agency slightly trimmed its 2021 oil demand outlook even further.

  • Its monthly report now sees oil consumption next year climbing 5.7 million barrels per day compared to 2020 levels.
  • That's a lot! But consider that demand plunged by an unprecedented 8.8 million barrels per day this year, per their latest data.

The big picture: The biggest reason 2021 demand will still be way lower than 2019 has to do with air travel remaining way below pre-pandemic levels. But more broadly, the year-to-year comparison doesn't capture the slow ramp up.

Why it matters: Oil supply and demand data are always closely watched by traders, but in the pandemic era, they're also a proxy for the status of restrictions and the return to old ways — or lack thereof.

What they're saying: "[I]t will be several months before we reach a critical mass of vaccinated, economically active people and thus see an impact on oil demand," the agency said.Here's more on why it expects 2021 oil consumption to recover just two-thirds of the amount lost in 2020:

  • Growth in road fuel will be strong and almost reach 2019 levels. Jet fuel comes back more slowly as restrictions remain until vaccines are widely available.
  • Also, older people will remain cautious, while the economic hit means less money to spend on air travel overall, and business travel will be hit by cost-cutting and online meetings.

Go deeper

Biden will issue executive order to rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

President-elect Biden will issue an executive order on Wednesday to rescind permits for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as one of his first acts on his first day in office.

Why it matters: The move is a major development in a longtime fight over a controversial pipeline that began under the Obama administration. It reverses some of President Trump's own first actions aimed at advancing the project upon taking office in 2017.

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.