Friday, February 17, 2012
The Financial Times notes that weak European currencies mean that residents there are facing oil prices at or near all time highs. That prompts a quick look at OECD oil consumption. Unfortunately, it's hard to get very up to date international data on oil consumption, even for developed countries. The EIA data used here currently goes through September 2011. As you can see above, developed country oil consumption has been generally declining since at least 2007 - I think it's likely that the developed world has already seen peak oil consumption, given very limited growth in world production and burgeoning demand in developing regions.
Here is more detail on the three main groupings shown above (not zero scaled):
Consumption was increasing slightly following the great recession, but then began to decrease again at the beginning of 2011 as the Arab Spring, Libya in particular, increased prices. In the second half of 2011, it seemed to be increasing again, but I would expect that European consumption at least would be declining since as Europe has gone into a double dip recession while facing near record oil prices.
At this point, continued happiness in developed countries will have a lot to do with their ability to become more energy efficient quickly, particularly more oil efficient.