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.

However, it’s a very different story for Asia Pacific:

Regional oil consumption 1965-2017

U.S. consumption is 3.5 million BPD higher than in 1973, which amounts to growth of just under 15% in 45 years. Demand in the EU has declined by 13% since then.

But demand in the Asia Pacific region climbed from 9.1 million BPD in 1973 to 34.6 million BPD in 2017. This 280% increase in demand is the primary reason the global demand curve has marched steadily higher.

Of course, Asia Pacific is where most of the world’s population resides. Thus, demand growth is being driven by billions of people who use a lot less oil per capita than the U.S., but whose per capita consumption is rising.

Chinese demand has increased by 5.0 million BPD over the past decade, by far the most of any country. But Chinese per capita demand is still only 3.3 barrels per person per year.

In the U.S., we consume about 22 barrels per person per year. That is partially a result of a more mobile and affluent population, but U.S. consumption also drives a much larger economy. To put U.S. demand in perspective, though, if China’s per capita demand were as high, it would be nearly as great as the entire current global demand.

In second place for the largest increase in oil demand over the past decade is India, which has seen its demand increase by 1.7 million BPD. Third place will probably be a surprise to many. Saudi Arabia has increased its oil demand by 1.5 million BPD over the past decade. These three countries were the only ones to experience demand growth over over one million BPD over the past decade.

The largest decrease in demand over the past decade was in Japan, which saw oil demand decline by 1.0 million BPD. Second place will be another surprise, as the U.S. saw oil demand decline by 800,000 BPD. Italy was third with a decline of 493,000 BPD, while the entire EU saw demand fall by 1.7 million BPD.

In the next article, I will discuss the primary sources that are satisfying all of this new demand.

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