BP Says Annual World Oil Consumption Falls for First Time Since 1993

U.S. consumption down 6.4% and OECD countries down 3.5%

British energy company BP said on June 10 that global oil consumption fell 0.6% in 2008, the first annual decline since 1993 and the largest drop since 1982, as the economic downturn slashed demand.

BP added in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy report that worldwide oil production climbed by 0.4% last year.

"Global energy consumption growth slowed in 2008, with slower economic growth and higher average prices breaking a string of five consecutive years of above-average growth," BP said in the annual report.

"Production growth exceeded that of consumption for all fossil fuels. For the year as a whole, prices for all forms of traded energy rose substantially despite sharp declines late in the year."

The company said global oil output rose to 81.8 million barrels per day in 2008 from the previous year. However, worldwide consumption retreated by 420,000 barrels per day (mbpd).

BP added that consumption in the 30 industrialized countries covered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) sank by 3.5%, or 1.5 mbpd, marking the third straight year of decline.

That was led by a drop of 6.4% or nearly 1.3 mbpd in the recession-hit U.S.

However, consumption rose strongly in Africa, China, India and the Middle East.

World oil prices had struck record peaks above $147 per barrel in July 2008, but have since slumped on weak energy demand arising from the spreading economic downturn.

"2008 was a year of truly unprecedented developments, for the world economy and in energy markets," said BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward in the report. "Prices for all forms of traded energy rose steeply, some reaching record highs, and then fell dramatically. Producers and consumers alike are wondering where global energy markets are headed, and how to manage the myriad issues around energy, including price volatility, security and climate change."

BP also revealed that the world's oil reserves fell last year for the first time since 1998, sinking to 1.258 trillion barrels owing to heavy falls in China, Norway and Russia. The level of global reserves was enough to meet world energy demand for the next 42 years at current production rates. It compared with a revised 1.261 trillion barrels in 2007, according to BP. "Our data confirms that the world has enough proved reserves of oil, natural gas and coal to meet the world's needs for decades to come," added Hayward."The challenges the world faces in growing supplies to meet future demand are not below ground, they are above ground. They are human, not geological."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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