Global demand for oil, gas, coal and nuclear power grew at a slower pace last year due to weak economic growth, recession and increased efficiency, energy company BP said Wednesday.
In an annual review of the world energy market, BP PLC said growth in energy consumption slowed to 1.8 percent from 2.4 percent in 2011. Demand continued to grow in China and India, which together accounted for almost 90 percent of the global increase. But even growth in developing countries was slower than it has been over the last decade.
Energy demand in the United States fell 2.8 percent, leading an overall decline of 1.2 percent in developed countries.
At the same time, the U.S. saw its biggest-ever annual increase in oil production in 2012. The company said the U.S. produced 8.9 million barrels of oil a day, up 13.9 percent from 2011.
The strong growth comes as a result of the ability of drillers to extract liquid oil trapped in shale, leading to enormous production increases in North America.
The combination of weak demand and the rising supplies from the U.S. have knocked prices down.
“On the supply side, the most noticeable phenomenon remains the American shale revolution,” BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said in a statement. “In 2012, the U.S. recorded the largest oil and natural gas production increases in the world and saw the largest gain in oil production in history.”
Other countries that saw big shifts include Libya, which registered a 215 percent increase nearly two years after the war that brought about the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. Syria, which is engaged in its own conflict, registered nearly a 50 percent decrease.
Global oil production rose by 1.9 million barrels a day, BP said.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency has said the U.S. will be a net exporter of oil by the next decade and could overtake oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia as the world’s top crude producer by 2020.
Such shifts threaten the power of OPEC, which accounts for about a third of the world’s oil production. The 12-nation cartel has expressed skepticism about industry estimates that U.S. shale extraction could amount to an extra 3 million barrels of oil a day within 20 years as well as forecasts of U.S. energy independence.
The BP review – its 62nd such annual report – said the U.S. shale oil boom showed countries can more easily switch between types of energy than in the past. Outside of the U.S., Japan ramped up its use of imported liquid natural gas after its Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Germany is quickly phasing out its nuclear power production in favor of alternative energy.
Dudley said that the industry was seeing “a shift in supply towards a greater diversity of energy sources.”
S.C. Electric & Gas is building two nuclear reactors at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County – a $10 billion project. State-owned public utility Santee Cooper owns a 45 percent stake in the plants, but has been trying to sell off half of that stake for years amid a slowdown in demand.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley was among a half-dozen coastal governors last month calling on Washington to open up more waters to offshore drilling. Drilling off the South Carolina coast – currently banned as environmental and regulatory reviews are conducted – is a concern among some tourism officials and environmentalists because of potential damage. Haley said offshore drilling will create jobs and make energy more affordable.
South Carolina has the second-largest offshore wind resource on the East Coast and a goal of generating 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by the end of the decade. Efforts already underway include: Clemson’s Restoration Institute in North Charleston is working to develop new wind turbines. North Myrtle Beach officials are looking to attract wind farms off the S.C. coast. Santee Cooper has worked with Clemson and Coastal Carolina University on Palmetto Wind, a project studying the possibilities of generating wind energy offshore near Georgetown.
The University of South Carolina recently announced the creation of a team called the Energy Leadership Institute that will seek to better organize and promote the efforts of more than 125 faculty members already conducting energy research. Among other goals, the new initiative aims to help the U.S. break its dependence on foreign oil by bringing together experts working on alternative and traditional energy sources.
Efforts are under way to make solar energy easier to expand in South Carolina. Entrepreneurs and environmentalists are pushing legislation to loosen restrictions on solar power in the state. But so far, little has happened to further solar power in the Palmetto State.