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| Human World on Aug 17, 2011

Worldwatch says oil consumption has hit an all-time high

The global financial crisis was just a blip on the upward climb of oil consumption, according to a new report by Worldwatch Institute, released this week.

In a new online report released August 10, 2011, the Worldwatch Institute of Washington D.C. said that global oil consumption reached an all-time high last year. It said that oil consumption fell 1.5 percent between 2008 and 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Afterwards, global oil consumption “more than made up for” that decline by increasing 3.1 percent in 2010, and reaching 87.4 million barrels consumed per day that year. One third of the increase in consumption came from China, Worldwatch reported.

Saya Kitasei, who co-authored the Worldwatch Vital Signs report along with Natalie Narotzky, said:

Between the recession, the BP oil spill, and instability in the Middle East and North Africa, oil markets have been on a roller coaster the last few years. When the dust settles, however, it is clear that the momentum of future market growth has moved to the developing world, where oil consumption did not miss a beat during the recession and shows no sign of slowing.

Key findings from the report, which can be found at Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs, include the following:

  • After falling 1.5 percent between 2008 and 2009 due to the global financial crisis, global oil consumption recovered by 3.1 percent in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 87.4 million barrels per day.
  • Oil consumption in countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was more than seven percent lower in 2010 than in 2005, while consumption in non-OECD countries is up 20 percent since then.
  • In 2010, oil remained the largest source of primary energy use worldwide, but its share of this use fell for the 11th consecutive year, to 37 percent. Responding to this falling demand, global oil production fell 2.1 percent to 80.3 million barrels per day in 2009.
  • One third of the increase in consumption came from China, which now uses over 10 percent of the world’s oil.
  • Both political unrest in the Middle East-North Africa region and uncertainty about new regulations on deepwater offshore oil drilling have further contributed to volatility in the global oil market.
  • The Middle East remains the largest exporter of oil with 35.3 percent in 2010, followed by the former Soviet Union and the Asia Pacific region.
  • Global proved oil reserves have been increasing since 1980 and reached an estimated 1,526 billion barrels in 2010.
  • Canadian oil sands now contribute around half of that country’s crude oil production and are expected to provide a growing share, but they are energy- and water-intensive to develop. In the case of pit mining, that can lead to extensive landscape alteration and large waste streams of toxic mining tailings.

One third of the increase in oil consumption in 2010 came from China, which now uses over 10 percent of the world's oil. Image Credit: iz4aks

Farmer and economist Lester Brown founded the Worldwatch Institute in 1974. Worldwatch says on its Via Worldwatch Institute

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