Energy’s big picture — The BP Statistical Review of World Energy

 global energy

BP is known for many things: for being one of the world’s largest oil companies, for popularizing the term carbon footprint, and for instigating the largest oil spill in US history. It is also known for laying out the big picture about the world’s energy resources on an annual basis.

BP just published its 61st annual statistical analysis of the world’s energy markets, The BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2012.

I like it when an entity paints the big picture. Here I am thinking that we are in a global energy slump. The BP document points out that while that may be true on a year-over-year or regional basis, 2011’s global energy consumption growth of 2.5% (fueled mainly by emerging economies) is close to the historical norm. It only seems like a slump when compared to 2010’s global energy use growth of 5.1%.

Another highlight from the report: At 33%, oil is still the world’s leading fuel, although it has been losing market share for 12 consecutive years. As a group though, fossil fuels still dominate the global fuel supply, with an 87% market share. The fastest growing fuel source, renewables (wind, solar, hydro and others) only holds a 2% share.

Natural gas production in 2011 grew by 3.1 % globally and by 7.7% in the US, which is now the world’s largest gas producer.

Nuclear power production dropped by 4.3% in 2011 (down 44% in Japan, following the Fukushima disaster, and 23% in Germany, which decided to exit nuclear power in the wake of the Japanese plant catastrophe).

Coal accounted for 30% of global energy consumption in 2011, its highest market share since 1969. Abundant, cheap, and dirty, coal is fueling a growing number of power plants across China, India, and other emerging economies.

Whatever else may be going on with BP, I for one appreciate the Big Picture about global energy that it publishes every year. It puts current energy trends and activities in perspective, and is a good read.

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Photo by Jon Rawlinson, used under a Creative Commons license.
Stuart Hampton

British editorial veteran Stuart Hampton has been covering oil and gas companies for Hoover's since the Neogene-Quaternary period. Well, actually, since the early 1990s. For the best overview of the oil industry and its history he recommends Daniel Yergin's "The Prize." You can also follow Stuart on Twitter.

Read more articles by Stuart Hampton.

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