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A pivotal moment

This year’s BP Statistical Review of World Energy highlights the global energy trends emerging prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic. While some aspects – such as the continuing strong growth in renewables – offer encouragement that the world is moving onto a more sustainable path, others – including continuing persistent growth in carbon emissions – underline the scale of the challenge for the world to reach net zero. 

Introducing the Review, Bernard Looney, BP CEO, said: ‘As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like we are at a pivotal moment. Net zero can be achieved by 2050. The zero carbon energies and technologies exist today – the challenge is to use them at pace and scale, and I remain optimistic that we can make this happen.’

The report highlights that growth in primary energy consumption slowed to 1.3% in 2019, less than half the rate of growth the previous year (2.8%). Meanwhile, carbon emissions from energy use grew by 0.5% in 2019, only partially unwinding the unusually strong growth of 2.1% seen in 2018. Average annual growth in carbon emissions over 2018 and 2019 was greater than its 10-year average.  

Natural gas consumption increased by 78bn cm, or 2%, well below the exceptional growth (5.3%) seen in 2018, but its share of primary energy still hit a record high (24.2%).
Increases in gas demand were driven by the US (27bn cm) and China (24bn cm), while Russia and Japan saw the largest declines (10bn and 8bn cm respectively). Natural gas production rose by 3.4%, with the US accounting for almost two-thirds of this increase (85bn cm). Australia (23bn cm) and China (16bn cm) were also key contributors to growth. Inter-regional gas trade expanded at a rate of 4.9%, more than double its 10-year average, driven by a record increase in LNG of 54bn cm (12.7%). LNG supply growth was led by the US (19bn cm) and Russia (14bn cm), with most incremental supplies heading to Europe. European LNG imports (+49bn cm) rose by more than two-thirds. 

Oil consumption grew by a below-average 0.9mn b/d, or 0.9%, while demand for all liquid fuels, including biofuels, topped 100mn b/d for the first time.
Oil consumption growth was led by China (680,000 b/d) and other emerging economies, while demand fell in the OECD (290,000 b/d). Global oil production fell by 60,000 b/d as strong growth in US output (1.7mn b/d) was more than offset by a decline in OPEC production (2mn b/d), with sharp declines in Iran (1.3mn b/d), Venezuela (560,000 b/d) and Saudi Arabia (430,000 b/d).

Renewables accounted for over 40% of the global growth in primary energy last year, more than any other fuel. Their share in power generation (10.4%) also surpassed nuclear for the first time.
Meanwhile, coal’s share of primary energy fell to its lowest level in 16 years (27%), after consumption fell by 0.6%, led by a sharp drop in OECD demand. However, coal remained the single largest source of energy for power generation, accounting for over 36% of global power.

Spencer Dale, Chief Economist, BP, noted: ‘Global energy markets have been severely disrupted by the pandemic. BP’s Statistical Review highlights the key energy trends emerging before COVID-19 and I hope it will be a valuable source of information as the world emerges from the pandemic and transitions towards net zero.’


The BP Statistical Review of World Energy and other related materials are available online at

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