Growth in Global Oil Market Slows

Shakuntala Makhijani | Jun 26, 2012

Global oil consumption increased by 0.7 percent in 2011 to reach an all-time high of 88.03 million barrels per day.1 (See Figure 1.) This rate of increase was considerably slower than in 2010, when oil consumption rose by 3.3 percent following a decline of 1.3 percent in 2009 due to the global financial crisis.2 China’s oil consumption increased by 5.5 percent in 2011, and China accounted for about 85 percent of global net growth.3 An increase in oil consumption of 5.7 percent in the former Soviet Union contributed another 37 percent of net growth.4 But these increases were offset by declines in the United States and European Union, where oil consumption fell by 1.8 and 2.8 percent.5

Oil Figure 1

The gap in oil consumption between countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and all other countries narrowed further in 2011, with the two groups respectively accounting for 51.5 and 48.5 percent of total oil consumption.6 Oil remained the largest source of primary energy worldwide in 2011, but its share fell for the twelfth consecutive year to 33 percent.7

To meet continued growth in demand, global oil production rose for the second year in a row, by 1.3 percent in 2011, to reach 83.58 million barrels per day.8 (See Figure 2.) Most of this increase was driven by higher production in countries that belong to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which overall grew by 3 percent in 2011 due to significant production growth in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.9Meanwhile oil production in non-OPEC countries fell slightly by 0.1 percent.10 Oil production growth was slow compared with natural gas and coal production, which grew by 3.1 and 6.1 percent, respectively, in 2011.11


The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Learn More