Spencer Dale, Group Chief Economist.
Global primary energy consumption decelerated sharply in 2014, even though global economic growth was similar to 2013
Consumption increased for all fuels, reaching record levels for every fuel type except nuclear power; production increased for all fuels except coal. For oil and natural gas, global consumption growth was weaker than production. The data suggest that global CO2 emissions from energy grew at their slowest rate since 1998, other than in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis.
Emerging economies accounted for all of the net growth in energy consumption, as they have on average over the past decade, although growth in these countries was well below its 10-year average. Chinese consumption growth was the slowest since 1998, yet China still recorded the world’s largest increment in primary energy consumption for the fourteenth consecutive year. OECD consumption experienced a larger than average decline, with weakness in the EU and Japan offsetting above average growth in the US. Energy consumption in the EU fell to its lowest level since 1985.
Energy price developments in 2014 were generally weak, with oil and coal prices falling globally. Gas prices fell in Europe, were relatively flat in Asia, and rose in North America. The annual average price for Brent, the international crude oil benchmark, declined reflecting a sharp fall in prices in the second half of the year. The differential between Brent and the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) narrowed but remained elevated relative to past levels. As with crude oil prices, differentials between North American and international gas prices generally narrowed but remained wider than historical levels.
Global primary energy consumption increased by just 0.9% in 2014, a marked deceleration over 2013 (+2.0%) and well below the 10-year average of 2.1%. Growth in 2014 slowed for every fuel other than nuclear power, which was also the only fuel to grow at an above-average rate. Growth was significantly below the 10-year average for Asia Pacific, Europe & Eurasia, and South & Central America. Oil remained the world’s leading fuel, with 32.6% of global energy consumption, but lost market share for the fifteenth consecutive year.
Although emerging economies continued to dominate the growth in global energy consumption, growth in these countries (+2.4%) was well below its 10-year average of 4.2%. China (+2.6%) and India (+7.1%) recorded the largest national increments to global energy consumption. OECD consumption fell by 0.9%, which was a larger fall than the recent historical average. A second consecutive year of robust US growth (+1.2%) was more than offset by declines in energy consumption in the EU (-3.9%) and Japan (-3.0%). The fall in EU energy consumption was the second-largest percentage decline on record (exceeded only in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009).