09 June 2011

Fossil Fueled: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011

The 2011 edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy is out (thanks Harrywr2) and you can download it and associated spreadsheets here.

The Financial Times reports on some of the top line conclusions (emphasis added):
The BP publication shows that China accounted for 20.3 per cent of consumption, surpassing the US, with a 19 per cent share of the global total.

Consumption growth reached 5.6 per cent last year and demand for all forms of energy grew strongly, said BP, with energy consumption in both mature OECD economies and non-OECD countries growing at above-average rates as the economic recovery gathered pace.

But the exceptionally strong demand and increased use of fossil fuels is “bad news” for carbon dioxide emissions from energy use, which rose at their fastest rate since 1969, said Christoph Rühl, BP’s chief economist.

Globally, energy consumption grew more rapidly than the economy, meaning the energy intensity of economic activity rose for a second consecutive year. “Energy intensity – the amount of energy used for one unit of GDP – grew at the fastest rate since 1970,” said Mr Rühl.
Close readers of this blog will note that BP's conclusion on the increasing energy intensity of GDP helps to explain the trend of a deceleration in the carbon intensity of GDP.  Note that the IEA data I had relied on in that earlier post was based on a 5% growth in both GDP and carbon dioxide emissions  in 2010.  Using the higher 5..8% increase in carbon dioxide emissions calculated by BP would mean that the world actually became more carbon intensive in 2010.

The Economist puts the BP report into the context of the US government's stupefying (or should I say, stupid-ifying) decision to limit collection of energy data:
That more energy is being used than ever before is a welcome sign of economic growth after a sharp downturn. That it is being used less efficiently than before, and producing record levels of carbon dioxide, is harder to welcome. A small mercy, though, is that there are numbers like BP’s available with which to perceive such unwelcome truths. Since the Anglo Iranian Oil Company, which would become BP a few years later, first put together its annual review 60 years ago—six typewritten pages, one graph, for internal use only—they have grown into a widely valued tool for economists and energy strategists in a field where reliable compendia of facts are rare, and growing rarer. In April the United States government announced that it would stop gathering the data on which various domestic energy indicators are based, reduce efforts to assure data quality in some others and cease publication of its International Energy Statistics. It is hard to see how, if such numbers have any value at all, that doesn’t represent a false economy.
Data is important to policy analysis.  As Michael Levi said a while back,
Congratulations to those policymakers who thought that cutting the EIA budget would be wise: You’ve managed to lose a few ounces of weight by removing a small sliver of your brain.


  1. Why waste money on collecting data when policy is going to be driven by politics anyway?

  2. To be fair a lot of what EIA does is a duplication of the efforts of others.

    AAA provides a perfectly good service of tracking retail gasoline prices.


  3. The BP report puts a lot of faith in biofuels like ethanol being actually primary energy sources (energy returned over energy invested, EROEI, being significantly greater than 1). It might be true for sugar cane ethanol, but it's not at all clear it's true for corn based ethanol. If the EROEI for ethanol is 1.33, it takes 3 bbloe of ethanol to replace ~1 bbl of petroleum. Approximately 1 because EROEI isn't infinite for oil either.

  4. The Euro energy companies like BP and Shell support a liberal bias in interpreting their energy scenarios as one would expect. BP company presentation accompanying the 2011 Statistical Review gives a caveat to BP's 2030 outlook: ": “We assume that policy supports the continued rapid growth of non-fossil power generation – especially renewables, which attain a global share of 10% by 2030… where gas is available at a competitive price, it continues to displace coal.” Meanwhile Jeremy Bentham, Shell's VP Global Business Environment is more transparent in wanting to help make renewables succeed, saying "...that the decisions governments across the world make on energy policy over the next five years will define the way the world looks in 2050 and this would define whether the next 50 years where a time of “extraordinary opportunity or misery...partly because most major energy projects, including oil, gas and renewables, have expected project lives of 20-30 years, current decision-making would set world energy supplies as far out as 2050. Key is cities - where $300 trillion will be invested in cities over coming decades as 75% of the population moves into them by 2050. The equivalent of one new Perth is busily been built every week!" While the latter is intended to emphasize the Erlichian "population bomb" it interestingly doesn't recognize the implications of urbanization land use changes e.g., as discussed by Pielke Sr. et. al. "Land use / land cover changes and climate: Modeling
    analysis and observational evidence," Wire's Climate Change, submitted paper. The advocacy position also does not acknowledge that policies do not have to be scientifically correct or demonstrated in a Popperian sense of "theories" being falsiable and can be done for political or ideological and wrong reasons.