Key Energy Stats – The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

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Apparently the above phrase is from the translation of  ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose‘ by the French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. Regardless, not only is it great, but also highly applicable to a veritable selection of shenanigans going on across energyland™. 

First up – or actually first and second up, are two examples from the latest Key World Energy Statistics, recently released by the IEA. These examples show snapshots of how certain energy commodities have contributed to the energy landscape over the last forty years. And despite how much things have changed…the more they have stayed the same.

The first chart shows crude oil production, which, for all of its expansion, shows that geographical performance has stayed pretty much the same. The OECD, Asia, and Europe & Eurasia have barely budged. Only the Middle East has seen a noticeable drop, though maintaining the lion’s share, while China shows a modest increase:

The second chart shows total global consumption. Despite consumption basically doubling in the last forty years as more of the world has gained access to electricity, the shares for oil, coal, natural gas, and biofuels and waste have all remained remarkably similar:  

Next up, we switch gears and look at the US gasoline market. On the supply side we have seen US refining reaching a record level this summer, while gasoline exports have ramped up to 445,000 barrels a day. Nonetheless, despite a revolution underway (of the shale variety), gasoline demand has been steady as she goes, while inventories have stuck to the five-year average like glue. The more change there is, the more it has stayed the same:   

Switching commodities, natural gas has had a tumultuous year, starting the storage injection season in spring from the lowest level since 2003 at 822 Bcf. Yet as we have seen storage refilled at a record pace to 3,100 Bcf, reducing the deficit from 55% to 11% versus the five-year average, one thing has stayed the same: every storage injection over the last 24 weeks has been larger than the five-year average. Quite remarkable, and a testament to such a mild summer and record production: 

Finally, let us wrap up with a peak into the future. For our fifth and final chart looks at US primary energy use in 2040. Granted we should take the below chart with a grain (or two) of salt, given the potential for technological advancements over the next two and a half decades. But on face value, it is quite astonishing that by 2040 – despite all the emphasis on becoming more environmentally responsible – the US will still be 80% reliant on fossil fuels to meet its energy needs.  The more things change….

As always, thanks for playing. ‘Til next time….don’t go changin’, y’hear!


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  • Jacques Schonek

    10 years ago

    One remarkable point on the last chart is the significant decrease of primary energy use in 2008, during the economical crisis.
    Are growth or recession the only factors to impact the energy market?

  • While there are a number of different influences constantly at play in the energy market to impact supply and demand (from energy efficiency to seasonality), I would say that economic growth / contraction is most likely the biggest driver of energy consumption.

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