Asia’s Insatiable Oil Demand

Oil demand continues to grow at a rapid pace, but there are some big surprises in the demand changes among individual countries.

HAIKOU, CHINA – FEBRUARY 19: Vehicles jammed at a port in Haikou, Hainan Province of China highlight China’s growing thirst for crude oil. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Last month the 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy revealed that global oil production has now grown for eight straight years. Oil consumption rose to a new high as well, and has increased in 31 of the past 34 years.

Today I want to take a deeper dive into global oil consumption numbers. Let’s first look at the global picture of the relentless growth of oil demand:

Global oil consumption 1965-2017

Following several years of softening demand in the early 1980’s, oil consumption turned upward in 1984. Since then, oil demand has risen by 39.2 million barrels per day — an increase of 67% and an average increase of 1.15 million BPD per year over the span of 34 years.

What some may find surprising is the source of that demand growth.

There are three major demand centers for oil in the world: The U.S., the European Union, and the Asia Pacific region. Cumulatively, these three areas are responsible for two-thirds of global crude oil demand.

While U.S. demand remains relatively high, it isn’t much higher today than it was at the time of the 1973 oil crisis. Likewise in the European Union demand is actually a bit lower today than it was in 1973.