US Oil Output Soars as Consumption Tops China

By Betz Jack 19 Jun 2014

US oil consumption surpassed China’s by approximately 10,000 B/D in 2013, the first time that has happened in more than a decade, according to BP’s 63rd annual Statistical Review of World Energy, released Monday. And despite the lackluster global economy, oil consumption grew more than 1% in each world region with the exception of Europe, which saw a decrease of 0.4%. Worldwide, total oil consumption grew by 1.4%, or 1.4 million B/D. 

Global oil production rose by 0.6% in 2013—falling behind growth in demand. North America was overwhelmingly the leader in production gains in 2013, as the US increased output by 13.5% and Canada by 6%. No other world region increased oil output by more than 1%.

US oil production in 2013 rose by 1.1 million BOPD, one of the highest year-on-year increases in history, according to the review. US oil production now exceeds 10 million BOPD, the country’s highest level since 1986. Increased tight oil output in the US offset potentially problematic supply hiccups in countries such as Libya and Syria, which both experienced severely decreased production in 2013 as a result of civil strife. Libya in particular saw as much as half a million BOPD in lost production.

WTI and Brent had average spot prices of USD 97.99 and USD 108.66, respectively. Oil prices in 2013 remained high and relatively stable, despite global events that could have drastically affected price if not for increased global production. WTI remained above USD 90/bbl at nearly all times in 2013.

BP group chief economist Christof Rühl, who discussed the review in a 17 June webcast, said that, collectively, the unrest surrounding nations involved in the so-called “Arab Spring” has cost the world an estimated 3 million BOPD of production over the past 3 years. 

Natural Gas 

Natural gas production grew anemically, despite the average 2013 spot price being higher than 2012. Operators in the US increased their natural gas production by 1.3%. Global gas production experienced an average overall increase of 1.1%. Except for a few small producers, the global trend was for countries to increase gas production by less than 5% or produce less compared with 2012.

Non-OECD countries China and India embodied natural gas demand extremes, with China becoming the world’s greatest consumer of natural gas, shooting up by 15 Bcm, and India experiencing 2013’s largest dip in gas consumption, going down 7.4 Bcm.  

India’s drop in natural gas demand is a direct result of dwindling domestic production, which decreased by almost 7 Bcm. Instead of importing natural gas to fill the gap, India turned to coal. 

Coal and Primary Consumption

Globally, coal consumption climbed 3%. Asia Pacific, North America, and South America all increased coal consumption, while Europe and the Middle East decreased theirs. For the first time in a decade, natural gas lost market share for power generation in the US, which increased coal consumption by 4.6%.

The Asia Pacific region led primary energy consumption growth worldwide at 3.4%, despite being below its recent average, according to BP. Global coal consumption grew by 3%, faster than any other fossil fuel, and coal’s share of global primary energy consumption reached 30.1%, the highest since 1970.  

Jack Betz is a Staff Writer for the Journal of Petroleum Technology.