Global Oil Consumption Hits All-Time High

Global oil consumption rose 3.1% in 2010, reaching an all-time high of 87.4 million barrels a day, according to a Worldwatch Institute report.

The increase more than makes up for the brief decline of 1.5%  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," says Worldwatch Sustainable Energy Fellow Saya Kitasei, co-author of the Vital Signs Online report.

"When the dust settles, however, it is clear 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 include:

  • Oil consumption in developed countries that belong to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was over 7% lower in 2010 than in 2005, while consumption in developing non-OECD countries is up 20% since then.
  • Oil was the largest source of primary energy in 2010, but its share fell for the 11th consecutive year, to 37%. 
  • In 2009, global oil production fell 2.1% to 80.3 million barrels per day because of lower demand.
  • One third of the increase in 2010 consumption is from China, which now uses over 10% 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 contributed to volatility in the global oil market.
  • The Middle East remains the largest exporter of oil with 35.3% in 2010, followed by the former Soviet Union and the Asia Pacific region.
  • Global proven oil reserves have been increasing since 1980 and reached an estimated 1,526 billion barrels in 2010.
  • Canadian oil sands now contribute about half of that country’s crude oil production and will provide a growing share, but it’s energy- and water-intensive to develop. Pit mining can lead to extensive landscape alteration and large waste streams of toxic mining tailings.

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