It might be time to calm down about oil consumption.
We’ve already passed peak oil demand levels from developed nations, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).
The highest level of consumption for OECD countries was back in 2005, and despite the potential for a rebound in demand, we are unlikely to return to 2005 levels ever again.
Vehicle ownership levels reached a saturation point. “Vehicle ownership rates in developed countries have reached a “saturation” level while ageing populations with low to negative population growth suggests a flattening of demand for mobility. The growth of women’s participation in the labour force is also levelling off, meaning the flattening of another source of demand growth.”
Governments are pushing for better fuel economy. “Energy security concerns and climate change initiatives have led OECD governments to tighten fuel economy standards. The rise in energy prices over the past several years has pushed consumers to value increased efficiency and the auto industry through a major reorientation toward greater efficiency.”
Alternative fuels and technology are finally gaining traction. “Governments across the OECD continue to favour mandates that increase the share of alternative fuels in the transportation sector. New technologies such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and next-generation biofuels could also have a greater impact in the future”
Given that developed nations account for 54% of global oil demand, even robust demand growth from other developing nations will take time to make the difference. Thus CERA believes that world oil consumption won’t return to pre-global-recession levels until as late as 2012.
Oil will be less and less important to developing countries, though increasingly important to developing ones such as China.
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