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Vol. 13, No. 27 Week of July 06, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

EIS: Energy demand on the fast track

Agency predicts demand to rise 50% over 20 years, mostly in developing countries

Eric Lidji

Petroleum News

More people driving more cars and using more power means global energy demand could increase at least 50 percent between 2005 and 2030, according to a new federal report released June 25.

The increased demand would overwhelmingly come from nations outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where consumption is expected to increase 85 percent, according to the International Energy Outlook 2008, a new publication from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, energy use in nations within the OECD is expected to jump 19 percent.

Total global energy use is expected to hit 695 quadrillion British thermal units by 2030, compared with the 462 quadrillion Btu used in 2005.

That demand will come from all known fuel sources, but fossil fuels will continue to supply most of the power. Liquids will remain the dominant fuel source because of transportation and industrial use. Demand is expected to jump from 83.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2005 to 112.5 million boepd in 2030.

But other fuels will grow as well, and the report predicts liquids will represent a smaller share of the energy market in 2030 than it does today. And if high prices continue, consumption is expected to slow across the board.

But “slow” might mean the difference between a sprint and a run. To meet global demand in 2030, the report estimates supplies of liquid fuels will jump 28.2 million bpd above the 84.3 million bpd produced in 2005.

Use the high case for prices?

To make these assumptions, the International Energy Outlook uses a reference case based on oil prices that drop to $70 a barrel in nominal dollars by 2015 and rise again to $113 a barrel by 2030.

That might raise eyebrows at a time when prices hover around $140 a barrel, and so the EIA also included a high price estimate where world oil prices reach $186 per barrel in 2030, nearly 65 percent higher than the reference case.

“Given current market conditions, it appears that world oil prices are on a path that more closely resembles the projection in the high price case than in the reference case,” the report said.

Those higher oil prices could slow demand. The report estimates that under the high price scenario, total global consumption of liquids would be 13 million barrels lower in 2030 than the 99.3 million barrels projected under the reference case.

However, the higher prices would most likely also spur development of previously uneconomic supplies of energy. As a result, unconventional fuels account for 20 percent of the total liquid supply in 2030 under the high case, but only 9 percent under the reference case.

Natural gas to replace oil

Under the reference case, global natural gas consumption is expected to jump from 104 trillion cubic feet in 2005 to 158 tcf in 2030, a nearly 52 percent increase.

“Natural gas is expected to replace oil whenever possible,” the report said.

That growth could be even more pronounced with any widespread efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions around the world, because natural gas is generally a cleaner burning fuel than oil or coal.

Most of the growth in demand for natural gas is expected to come from industrial uses and electric generation, which combined are expected to account for 78 percent of the total demand in 2030.

Most of the additional supplies to meet that demand are expected to come from non-OECD countries, with a significant portion coming from exports like liquefied natural gas out of the Middle East and Africa.

The report expects coal use to increase at an average rate of 2 percent per year, unless there is an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

For the full report, visit

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