China surpassed the US to become the world's largest energy consumer in 2010, as the rebounding global economy drove worldwide consumption higher and at a rate not seen since the aftermath of the 1973 oil-price shocks, according to the latest annual BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Total energy consumption in China grew by 11.2% last year.
Oil remains the world's leading fuel, at 33.6% of global energy consumption, but it continued to lose market share for the 11th consecutive year. Global oil consumption grew by 3.1%, the strongest growth since 2004, to average 87.38 million b/d.
This rate of oil demand growth was more than twice the 10-year average and was the first increase among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development since 2005 and the largest volumetric increase outside the OECD ever, BP said. China contributed the largest national increment to oil demand as its consumption rose by 10.4% to average 9 million b/d.
The rebound in global economic activity and the energy-intensive nature of the recovery appear to have been the most important factors behind last year's demand growth, BP said.
Middle distillates saw the strongest increase among refined products, growing by 4.4%. BP said this was a mirror image of 2009, when middle distillates and fuel oil recorded the strongest declines because of the recession's disproportionate impact on industry. Meanwhile, growth in gasoline demand was relatively weak, stagnating in the OECD, which suggests that higher prices had already started to have an effect.
Global oil production increased to average 82.1 million b/d, up 2.2%, also the strongest growth in 16 years, as crude oil supply growth was roughly split between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers. In addition, biofuels output grew by 240,000 b/d, up 13.8% from a year earlier.
Non-OPEC oil production increased last year by 1.9% to average 34.29 million b/d. Climbing 7.1% to average a little more than 4 million b/d, China's oil production saw the largest increase in the country's history due to rising offshore output, while Norway experienced the world's largest production decline.