Oil Consumption Hits All-Time High

Economic Recession a Blip on Oil Consumption’s Upward Climb

World Consumed 87.4 Million Barrels Per Day in 2010

Washington, D.C. - Global oil consumption reached an all-time high of 87.4 million barrels per day in 2010, according to a new Vital Signs Online report from the Worldwatch Institute. The 3.1 percent increase more than makes up for the brief decline in consumption caused by the economic crisis.

“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,” said Worldwatch Sustainable Energy Fellow Saya Kitasei, who co-authored the report along with Worldwatch researcher Natalie Narotzky. “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 vitalsigns.worldwatch.org, include:

  • 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 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was more than 7 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 eleventh 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.
  • Political unrest in the Middle East-North Africa region and uncertainty about new regulations on deepwater offshore oil drilling have both 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, they can lead to extensive landscape alteration and large waste streams of toxic mining tailings.

For more information, including charts, trends, and graphs, please visit http://vitalsigns.worldwatch.org/vs-trend/global-oil-market-resumes-growth-after-stumble-2009

Note to Press:

For a complimentary PDF of the full report, please email nnarotzky@worldwatch.org.
 


About the Worldwatch Institute: Worldwatch Institute delivers the insights and ideas that empower decision makers to create an environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs. Worldwatch focuses on the 21st-century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty by developing and disseminating solid data and innovative strategies for achieving a sustainable society. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than 20 languages. For more information, visit www.worldwatch.org