2012 in review
On the back of slower economic growth, global energy consumption growth in 2012 slowed significantly
Once again, all of the net growth took place in emerging economies, with China and India alone accounting for nearly 90% of the net increase in global energy consumption. OECD consumption declined for the fourth time in the past five years, led by a large decline in the US. Despite the slowdown, consumption and production reached record levels for all fuels except nuclear powerand biofuels. The data suggests that growth in global CO2 emissions from energy use continued in 2012, but at a slower rate than in 2011.
Energy price developments were mixed. Brent, the international crude oil benchmark, saw annual average prices reach record levels (in money-of-the-day terms), although annual prices declined slightly on an inflation-adjusted basis. Crude oil prices peaked in March following a decline in Iranian exports, but eased thereafter in the face of rising output in the US, Libya, and other OPEC producers.
Oil production growth in the US was the largest in the world in 2012, and the largest in the country’s history. In response, the differential between Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) reached another record premium, although the gap began to narrow later in the year as infrastructure bottlenecks in the US eased.
Natural gas prices rose in Europe and Asia, but fell in North America, where rising US natural gas output pushed gas prices to record discounts against both crude oil and international gas prices. Coal prices declined in all regions
World primary energy consumption grew by 1.8% in 2012, well below the 10-year average of 2.6%. Consumption in OECD countries fell by 1.2%, led by a decline of 2.8% in the US (the world’s largest decline in volumetric terms). Non-OECD consumption grew by 4.2%, below the 10-year average of 5.3%. Global consumption growth was below average for each fossil fuel and for nuclear power; regionally growth was below average everywhere except Africa. Oil remains the world’s leading fuel, at 33.1% of global energy consumption, but it also continued to lose market share for the 13th consecutive year and its current market share is the lowest in our data set, which begins in 1965.