BP: China surpassed USA in energy demand in 2010

2011 Review says global energy growth grows at fastest pace since 1973

Total consumption of energy in 2010 easily surpassed the pre-recession peak reached in 2008. GETTY IMAGES
Total consumption of energy in 2010 easily surpassed the pre-recession peak reached in 2008. GETTY IMAGES

China overtook the USA in 2010 to become the world’s largest energy consumer, according to BP's landmark 2011 Statistical Review of World Energy.

2010 saw the rebound in the global economy drive energy consumption growth up 5.6 % on 2009, a rate not seen since the aftermath of the 1973 oil price shocks. Total consumption of energy in 2010 easily surpassed the pre-recession peak reached in 2008.

Globally, energy consumption grew more rapidly than the economy, meaning that the energy intensity of economic activity increased for a second consecutive year.

Demand for all forms of energy grew strongly in 2010 and increases in fossil fuel consumption suggest that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use rose at their fastest rate since 1969.

The Review states that both mature OECD economies and non-OECD countries grew their energy demand at above-average rates.

Consumption in OECD countries grew by 3.5%, the strongest growth rate since 1984, although the level of OECD consumption remains roughly in line with that seen 10 years ago.

Non-OECD consumption grew by 7.5% and was 63% above the
2000 level.

Chinese energy consumption grew by 11.2%, and China surpassed the US as the world’s largest energy consumer.

“There were both structural and cyclical factors at work,” said Bob Dudley, BP Chief Executive.

“The cyclical factor is reflected in the fact that industrial production rebounded very sharply as the world recovered from the global downturn. Structurally, the increase reflects the continuing rapid economic growth in the developing world".

The review states that OPEC production cuts, implemented in 2008/09, in place throughout 2010, average oil prices for the year as a whole were the second-highest on record.

The Reviews says that oil remains the world’s leading fuel, at 33.6% of global energy consumption. However, oil continued to lose market share for the 11th consecutive year, predominantly to natural gas.

“Economic growth was led by the non-OECD economies which had suffered least during the crisis. By year-end, economic activity for the world as a whole exceeded pre-crisis levels driven by the so-called developing world,” said Christof Rühl, BP’s group chief economist.

The data imply that global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption will also have grown strongly last year.

“Energy intensity – the amount of energy used for one unit of GDP – grew at the fastest rate since 1970. And so, when all the accounting is done, planet Earth – we all – consumed more energy in 2010 than ever before,” said Rühl.

Global oil consumption grew by 2.7 million barrels per day (Mbpd), or 3.1%, the strongest growth since 2004.

Rühl said: “The growth rate was more than twice the ten-year average; it featured the first increase in OECD oil consumption since 2005 and the largest volumetric increase outside the OECD ever".

"China contributed the largest national increment; its consumption rose by 860,000 bpd or 10.4%. The United States, Russia, and Brazil also recorded large increments,” said Rühl.

The increase in global production was less than the increase in consumption. Growth was broadly split between OPEC and non-OPEC producers. In OPEC, Nigeria and Qatar accounted for the largest increases.

Refining capacity increased by 720,000 b/d
last year, the slowest growth since 2003. However, the aggregate
growth figure hides net reductions in the OECD markets of Europe,
Japan, the US and Canada.

Capacity additions were concentrated in
the non-OECD, with growth in China (640,000 b/d) accounting for
almost 90% of the global total. Installed refining capacity in the
non-OECD now exceeds that of the OECD by 1.5 million b/d.

Among non-OPEC producers, “China saw the largest increase in the country’s history due to rising offshore output. Russia and the US also contributed significantly, while Norway experienced the world’s largest production decline,” said Rühl.

Due to the high prices, oil saw the weakest consumption growth among fossil fuels last year.

Turning to natural gas, Rühl said: “Consumption rose 7.4%, the strongest volumetric gain on record.

Non-OECD economies expanded their share to over 51%; China solidified its role as Asia’s largest gas market. But OECD markets grew rapidly too (6.4%, +93 billion cubic metres), with consumption attaining all-time highs. Production rose 7.3%, also a record increment. 31% of this global growth originated in the former Soviet Union, followed by the Middle East.

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