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Reality Check: Global Oil Demand Reaches Record Levels And is Expected to Keep Increasing

Energy Indepth

The common “Keep It In the Ground” movement claim that “peak oil” demand is imminent was thoroughly debunked by a pair of International Energy Agency (IEA) reports released this week. IEA announced in one report that global oil demand and production crossed the 100 million barrel a day thresholds for the first time ever in the third quarter.

And not only does the agency note in the report that, “There is no peak in sight for demand,” IEA forecasts in another reportthat global oil demand will grow another 9.6 million barrels per day from current record levels by 2030.

Much of this expected increase will be driven by the often-overlooked petrochemicals sector, which is also experiencing significant growth thanks to an abundance of shale oil and gas feedstock that has become accessible in the last decade, coupled with increasing demand in developing countries. From the IEA report:

“Petrochemical feedstock accounts for 12% of global oil demand, a share that is expected to increase driven by increasing demand for plastics, fertilisers and other products.

“Petrochemicals are set to account for more than a third of the growth in world oil demand to 2030, and nearly half the growth to 2050, adding nearly 7 million barrels of oil a day by then. They are also poised to consume an additional 56 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas by 2030, and 83 bcm by 2050.”

The IEA notes that it is tough to imagine a modern world without petrochemicals, which are ubiquitous in products everyone relies on to meet basic human needs. The fundamental role that petrochemicals play in meeting these needs will ensure increased demand as people live longer and the population increases:

“Underlying the demand for chemical products is the demand for services they provide, such as sustenance, mobility and thermal comfort. These services encompass human needs and the desire of the global population for improved living standards.”

The IEA petrochemical report also shows that the oil and gas industry will play an important role in a world that increasingly uses renewable energy and seeks to make products more sustainable.

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