World oil reserves stable despite low spending: BP

Investment in oil and gas fell in 2015 by around a quarter from a year earlier to $160bn

Oil production last year rose by 3.2% to 91.67mn barrels per day.
Oil production last year rose by 3.2% to 91.67mn barrels per day.

The world's oil reserves were unchanged in 2015 despite a sharp drop in investment and exploration after the collapse in crude prices, BP has stated in its benchmark industry report.

Proven oil and gas reserves that can be technically pumped out of the ground typically fluctuate with oil prices as production becomes more or less economically viable.

But in 2015, when Brent oil prices fell by nearly 50% to $52 a barrel, reserves declined by only 0.1% to 1,698bn barrels, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, first published in 1951 and considered an industry handbook.

Investment in oil and gas fell in 2015 by around a quarter from a year earlier to $160bn, according to BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale.

"You'll have to go back to the late 1970s to see such a sharp fall in investments," Dale told Reuters.

Oil production last year rose by 3.2% to 91.67mn barrels per day, driven by increased output from US shale oil production and Iraq and Saudi Arabia increasing production to record levels, the data showed.

BP estimated that the shale revolution in North America increased technically-recoverable oil and gas resources up by 15%. US oil reserves were unchanged last year at 55bn barrels but were nearly double 2005 levels.

"This is truly the age of plenty," Dale said.

Indian demand

The drop in oil prices nevertheless sparked a sharp rise in consumption of 1.9%, nearly double the historical average, as drivers from the United States to India and China drove more and in bigger cars.

India stood out, overtaking Russia as the world's third largest energy market, and Japan as the third largest oil consumer, as oil demand there rose by 8.1%, the data showed.

China's oil demand growth of 6.1 remained the largest in volume.

Overall energy consumption increased by 1.1% in 2015, a similar rate to a year earlier, though much slower than the 10-year average of 1.9%, BP said.

The modest growth was due in large part to China's slowing demand growth, which reached 1.5% compared to an average of 5% over the past decade. The shift was a result of the first decline in decades in output from energy-intensive industries such as iron, steel and cement, Dale said.

Global gas consumption rose by 1.7%, up from a 0.6% growth in 2014 but still below the 10-year average of 2.3%, a result of mild winter weather in North America and Europe.

Non-fossil fuel production rose by 3.6% in 2015, with renewable energy in the power sector growing by 15%, even though its overall share in the global energy mix remains small at 2.8%.

Coal recorded its biggest fall in consumption and production since BP's records start in 1980, with China accounting for a third in the fall as it shifted towards gas.

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