The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has cut back estimated demand for oil in 2010 on the grounds that oil inventories remain high enough to cope with any unexpected rise in winter fuel consumption.

According to OPEC’s monthly report, oil demand is forecast to average 28.59 million bpd this year, which represents a 20,000bpd decrease compared with last month’s forecast.

OPEC’s report reflects signs that the cold winter weather in much of the northern hemisphere this month has done little to increase oil demand. It left its forecast for the growth in global oil demand this year unchanged at 820,000bpd, reports Reuters.

OPEC said that a cautious approach should be adopted over the next few months due to low seasonal demand, persisting stock overhang and the start of refining maintenance.

OPEC’s report is similar to the International Energy Agency’s monthly estimates, which trimmed the global oil demand growth forecast in 2010 despite the cold weather.