INTERNATIONAL. Global oil consumption increased by 0.7% in 2011 to reach an all-time high of 88.03 million barrels per day, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service.
This rate of increase was considerably slower than in 2010, when oil consumption rose by 3.3% following a decline of 1.3% in 2009 due to the global financial crisis.
China's oil consumption increased by 5.5% in 2011, and China accounted for about 85% of global net growth in oil use. An increase in oil consumption of 5.7% in the former Soviet Union contributed another 37% of net growth. But these increases were offset by declines in the United States and European Union, where oil consumption fell by 1.8 and 2.8 percent respectively, writes Worldwatch Climate and Energy Research Associate Shakuntala Makhijani.
The gap in oil consumption between countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and all other countries narrowed further in 2011, with the two groups respectively accounting for 51.5% and 48.5% of total oil consumption. Oil remained the largest source of primary energy worldwide in 2011, but its share fell for the twelfth consecutive year to 33%.
To meet continued growth in demand, global oil production rose for the second year in a row, by 1.3% in 2011, to reach 83.58 million barrels per day. Most of this increase was driven by higher production in countries that belong to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which overall grew by 3 percent in 2011.
Meanwhile oil production in non-OPEC countries fell slightly by 0.1%. Oil production growth was slow compared with natural gas and coal production, which grew by 3.1% and 6.1%, respectively, in 2011.
Political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa had a significant effect on oil production in certain countries in the region. Output in Libya fell by 71% in 2011----from 1.7 million barrels per day (2% of global production in 2010) to just 479,000 barrels (0.6% of global output) due to the disruptions related to the civil war. At the same time, tense political situations and violence in Iran, Syria, and Yemen resulted in production declines of 0.6, 13.7, and 24%, respectively, in 2011.
The global impacts of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig blowout and oil spill have been limited thus far, with reviews in most countries finding that existing safety requirements suffice to prevent similar accidents.
Despite expanding offshore drilling efforts, the share of offshore oil is expected to remain steady at 30% of global oil production due to declining output from North Sea and Mexican offshore oil wells. Deepwater oil production is expected to constitute a growing portion of this production and is projected to go from 6 percent of total global oil supply today to 9% by 2016.
"Against the backdrop of fluctuating oil prices and concerns about supply risk, many countries are paying more attention to their dependence on imports and the stability of the countries they purchase oil from," said Makhijani. "In 2011, the United States imported 60 percent of the oil it needed, Europe imported 90%, and imports accounted for 68% of China's oil consumption."
The Middle East remains the world's largest oil exporter, accounting for 36.2% of exports in 2011 and a growing share of the global market. The CIS and the Asia Pacific region were the second and third largest exporters, with shares of 15.9% and 11.4%, respectively.
Oil exports from North Africa fell by 32.8% in 2011 due largely to the disruptions in oil production caused by political instability in the region. Exports from the United States grew by 19.4 percent in 2011, faster than in any other region, but they accounted for only 4.7% of the global market.
Further highlights from the report:
•Oil remained the largest source of primary energy worldwide in 2011, but its share fell for the twelfth consecutive year to 33%.
•Average annual prices for West Texas Intermediate crude reached US$94.83 per barrel in 2011, close to the average 2008 price of US$99.67 per barrel.
•OPEC countries control 72.4%of global oil reserves, and the Middle East has the largest share of reserves of any region, at 48.1% of the total.
About the Worldwatch Institute:
Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute's State of the World report is published annually in more than 18 languages.
For more information, visit www.worldwatch.org.