Each year in June two very important reports are released that provide a comprehensive view of the global energy markets. The highlight of the recently-released Renewables 2016 Global Status Report (GSR) was that the world’s renewable energy production has never been higher. But the biggest takeaway from this year’s newly-released BP Statistical Review may be that the world’s fossil fuel consumption has also never been higher.
Demand for crude oil set a new all time-high in 2015. Despite all the hype about electric vehicles and peak oil demand, the world’s oil demand continues to grow unabated — growing a robust 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) from 2014 (+1.9 percent year-over-year).
But the production growth of recent years continued as well. Global crude oil production surged by 2.8 million bpd in 2015, led by a 1 million bpd increase in U.S. production. The bulk of the rest of the world’s oil production increase came from OPEC, which cumulatively boosted production by 1.6 million bpd over 2015. BP’s definition of crude oil “includes crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and NGLs (natural gas liquids – the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately).”
Per this definition, the U.S. was the world’s top crude oil producer with 12.7 million bpd of oil production in 2015 (the highest production number ever recorded for the U.S., but a number that is being driven higher by natural gas liquids). Saudi Arabia was in 2nd place at 12.0 million bpd. Overproduction of crude oil has inevitably depressed oil prices, but supply and demand should tighten this year.
According to BP’s definition, the Top 10 crude oil producers in 2015 were:
Top 10 Global Oil Producers in 2015, million barrels per day
Among the Top 10 crude oil producers in the world in 2015, only the U.S. and China consume more than they produce. Not only did the U.S. produce more oil than any other country, but U.S. production exceeded that of Africa (8.4 million bpd), Asia Pacific (8.3 million bpd), and the combined total of South and Central America (7.7 million bpd). OPEC members accounted for 41 percent of the world’s crude oil production in 2015.
Natural gas consumption grew by 1.7 percent in 2015 to an all-time high. U.S. production hit an all-time record of 74.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). The U.S. remains the world’s largest natural gas producer, far ahead of runner-up Russia’s 55.5 Bcf/d. However, the U.S. consumes approximately as much as it produces, while Russia’s 37.9 Bcf/d of consumption enables it to export huge volumes of natural gas.
The coal industry had perhaps its worst year ever, amid the largest annual consumption drop in at least half a century. Consumption in the U.S. was down a whopping 12.7 percent, while the world’s leading producer and consumer of coal — China — used 1.5 percent less of it. This marks the second straight annual decline in China’s coal consumption. In 2015, China’s 1,920 million metric tons of oil equivalent (MMtoe) of coal consumption was good for 50 percent of the world’s total. Prior to 2014, China’s coal consumption had grown for 15 straight years. But now China’s coal demand has declined for two straight years. China’s 29 MMtoe demand decline in 2015 was the largest on record, and was the result of flat electrical demand, higher production of renewable power, an increase in natural gas consumption, and a huge increase in nuclear power (+29 percent) production.
The U.S. had been the world’s 2nd largest consumer of coal, but coal demand declines in 2015 dropped the U.S. to 3rd place among the world’s coal consumers. In fact, the primary reason for the huge global demand drop for coal in 2015 was the sharp decline in U.S. coal demand. In 2015 India replaced the U.S. as the world’s 2nd largest consumer of coal. Over the past decade, U.S. coal demand has fallen by nearly 30 percent, while coal demand has doubled in India. Of course India has a far larger population than the U.S., so we are still well ahead on a per capita demand basis (but still behind China).
Nuclear power continues to slowly recover from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. After sharp declines in 2011 and 2012, the world has now experienced three straight years of growth in nuclear power consumption. Last year saw modest growth of 1.3 percent from 2014. Major increases in nuclear power consumption took place in China (+28.9 percent), Argentina (+23.5 percent), Mexico (+19.6 percent), the United Kingdom (+10.3 percent) and India (+9.5 percent). At the other end of the spectrum were huge declines in nuclear power production in South Africa (-25.7 percent), Belgium (-22.6 percent), Iran (-18.6 percent), Switzerland (-16.2 percent), and Taiwan (-14 percent).
Renewables had a record year, with strong growth in solar power (+33 percent year-over-year) leading the way. Wind power consumption grew 17 percent, while the gains by geothermal (+5 percent), hydropower (+1 percent), and biofuels (+0.9 percent) were modest. Across all categories, consumption of renewable power grew 15 percent over 2014.
Despite the record year for renewables, global carbon dioxide emissions once again set a new all-time record high. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 were 36 million metric tons higher than in 2014, setting a record for the sixth straight year. But perhaps the silver lining is that 2015 marked the 2nd straight year that the increase was smaller than the year before. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2013 were 505 million tons higher than in 2012, but then 2014 and 2015 respectively saw increases of 224 million metric tons and 36 million metric tons.
The other positive note in the carbon dioxide emission numbers is that the U.S. continues to lead the world in reducing emissions. In 2015, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions fell by 145 million tons, by far the largest decline of any country in the world. In comparison, Russia was in 2nd place with a decline of 64 million tons from 2014. On the other end of the spectrum was India, which led the world with a 112 million ton increase in carbon dioxide emissions from 2014. China, which has now spent a decade as the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide, saw a 12 million decline in emissions from 2014, its first decline in nearly 20 years. The U.S. now leads all countries in reducing emissions for the past 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods.
There are several factors behind the decline in U.S. emissions. In 2015 overall demand for energy in the U.S. fell by 20 MMtoe. This consisted of a 57 MMtoe decline in coal demand, which was partially offset by a 14 MMtoe increase in oil demand and a 21 MMtoe increase in natural gas demand (which is in many cases directly replacing coal in the power sector). Renewables chipped in an additional 5 MMtoe of demand. So, power companies switching from coal to natural gas made the single biggest contribution toward lower emissions in the U.S. in 2015, with lower overall consumption making the 2nd largest contribution.
Of course it should be noted that the U.S. is still the world’s 2nd largest overall emitter of carbon dioxide. Despite the declines, in 2015 the U.S. emitted 5.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide (16 percent of the global total), behind China’s 9.2 billion tons (27 percent of the global total) but still well ahead of India’s 2.2 billion tons. On a per capita basis, U.S. emissions are well ahead of both of these countries. The U.S. also has the greatest historical inventory of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, because we spent decades as the world’s leader emitter by far.
Nevertheless, the U.S. has made great strides in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, while emissions in developing countries continue to grow. The net result was a global increase in overall carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere in 2015. Still, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as measured by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has been slowly accelerating for decades:
If the world is to truly turn this trend around, it’s likely going to require a different approach than those we are currently taking.
By Robert Rapier via Energytrendinsider.com
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