Global Oil Market Resumes Growth after Stumble in 2009

After falling 1.5 percent between 2008 and 2009 due to the global financial crisis, global oil consumption recovered by 3.1 percent in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 87.4 million barrels per day.1 (See Figure 1.) About one third of this growth came from China, which now uses over 10 percent of the world’s oil.2 The United States, Brazil, Russia, and the Middle East accounted for an additional 48 percent of the increase.3 Meanwhile, consumption in the European Union decreased for the fourth consecutive year, falling 1.1 percent.4 The gap in oil consumption between countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and non-OECD countries narrowed, with the two groups respectively accounting for 52.5 and 47.4 percent of total oil consumption in 2010.5

Vital Signs Trend Oil Figure 1

In 2010, oil remained the largest source of primary energy use worldwide, but its share of this use fell for the eleventh consecutive year, to 37 percent.6 Responding to this falling demand, global oil production fell 2.1 percent to 80.3 million barrels per day in 2009.7 (See Figure 2.) Faced with lowered demand and prices, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided in December 2008 to reduce their production targets by about 4.2 million barrels per day.8 As a result, OPEC oil production dropped 6.6 percent between 2008 and 2009, its largest annual production decline since 1983.9

Vital Signs Trend Oil Figure 2

OPEC and non-OPEC countries (excluding the former Soviet Union) each accounted for almost 42 percent of global oil production in 2010, with the former Soviet Union responsible for 16.8 percent, up from 10.7 percent in 2000.10 (See Figure 3.) Russia has taken the top producing spot from Saudi Arabia in the last two years.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