By - Jim Vess

Big increases in fossil fuel consumption places world on an unsustainable path, BP says

Energize Weekly, June 26, 2019

The strong growth in global energy demand in 2018 is a sign that the world is on an “unsustainable path,” according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Global energy demand was up 2.9 percent and carbon emissions grew by 2 percent in 2018, faster than at any times since 2010-2011, according to the annual review done by the London-based oil company.

Natural gas consumption was up more than 5 percent, one of the most robust growth rates in the last 30 years.

After three years of decline, between 2014 and 2016, coal consumption and production both posted their second consecutive yearly increases with consumption up 1.4 percent and production posting a 4.3 percent increase.

Oil consumption grew 1.5 percent, equal to 1.4 million barrels per day (b/d). China with 680,000 b/d consumption and the U.S. with 500,000 b/d demand were the largest contributors to growth.

All fuels grew faster than their 10-year averages, apart from renewables, although renewables still accounted for the second largest increment to energy growth.

Renewable generation grew 14.5 percent, but represents only a third of increased power generation worldwide.

“There is a growing mismatch between societal demands for action on climate change and the actual pace of progress, with energy demand and carbon emissions growing at their fastest rate for years,” Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist said in a statement.  “The world is on an unsustainable path.”

In both oil and natural gas production the U.S. led the way. Global oil production rose 2.4 percent, about 2.2 million b/d, with the U.S. increase in output equal to the net increase – “a record for any country in any year,” the report said.

There was also production growth in Canada, 410,000 b/d and Saudi Arabia, 390,000 b/d. Those increases were more than offset by a 580,000 b/d production decline in Venezuela and a 310,000 b/d decline in Iran.

Global gas production increased by 190 billion cubic meters (bcm) or 5.2 percent with the U.S. accounting for almost half the increase, 86 bcm – the largest annual growth posted by any country in history, the report said. Russia had a 34 bcm increase in production followed by Iran, 19 bcm, and Australia, 17 bcm.

The growth in natural gas consumption came primarily from the U.S., 78 bcm, China, 43 bcm, and Russia, 23 bcm.

Coal consumption’s 1.4 percent growth in 2018 was double its 10-year average and was led by demand in India and China. Coal demand in the 36-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes the world’s advanced economies, fell to its lowest level since 1975.

“The longer carbon emissions continue to rise, the harder and more costly will be the necessary eventual adjustment to net-zero carbon emissions,” Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, said in a statement. “As I have said before, this is not a race to renewables, but a race to reduce carbon emissions across many fronts.”

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