Europe Oil Consumption Peaked in 2005

August 31, 2015

This is the 3rd article using data from the BP Statistical Review published in June 2015.

Fig 1: Western Europe oil consumption, oil prices in $2014

Total oil consumption peaked 3 times at around 14 mb/d:
(1)   In 1973, the 1st oil crisis which was triggered by the Yom Kippur war. The following OPEC embargo was successful because US oil production had peaked 3 years earlier so the US could not increase production to offset OPEC’s reduction
(2)   In 1979, the 2nd oil crisis which was caused by Iranian oil production peaking in the mid seventies and the following Iranian revolution, resulting in a global recession in 1982
(3)   In 2005, at the beginning of the 3rd oil crisis when global crude oil production had a peak and declined until 2007
3 main oil consumers Germany, UK and France 
The oil crises in the 70s brought down consumption by 2 mb/d (oil prices increased 10-fold) through both energy conservation and a recession.

Fig 2: Oil consumption Germany, UK and France

Consumption never went back to 1973 levels but peaked in 1998 and then declined by 0.6% pa until 2006 after which consumption declined by 1.7% pa, mainly due to drops in France and UK, while Germany reduced consumption irrespective of oil prices.

Fig 3: UK became net importer in 2006


Fig 4: UK debt and GDP

 UK debt started to increase more than GDP when oil production began to decline from its peak in 1999.
Southern Europe

Fig 5: Southern Europe oil consumption

South European consumption peaked in 2004 and declined since then by 30%.

Fig 6: Oil consumption peak in Spain – 2007

Don Quijote and the (n) ever growing air traffic

Fig 7: Greece oil consumption peak in 2006

Other Europe with peak in 2007

Fig 8: Other European countries with peak in 2007

This group had a consumption peak in the 70s but then a much higher peak in 2007 followed by a 14% decline.
Other Europe with peak in 1970s

Fig 9: Other European countries with peak in 1970s

These are mainly North European countries which were able to reduce oil consumption after the 70s continuously, without a 2nd peak. Consumption decline accelerated after 2006. Sweden’s oil consumption in 2014 was 17% lower than in 1965 although population grew by 21%.
All together now. Drop of consumption since 2004/07:  around 2.6 mb/d
3 countries                               -851 kb/d
Southern                                  -1,242 kb/d
Other peak 2007                     -316 kb/d
Other peak in 70s                    -167 kb/d
Total Western  Europe             -2,576 kb/d
Eastern Europe

Fig 10: East European oil consumption

Eastern Europe experienced a rapid decline of oil consumption when the Soviet Union collapsed and later a rebound, especially in Poland.
Fuel Consumption by type

Fig 11: European petroleum consumption by fuel type

Fuel oil consumption (mainly for power plants) peaked in the 70s and was replaced by other primary energy. Light distillates peaked in 1999, the year in which UK oil production had its 2nd and last peak. For all the other fuels, there were 4 distinctive phases:
(a)    Before the 1st oil crisis: growth +9.6%
(b)   Between the 1st and 2nd oil crisis: growth +4.3%
(c)    Up to 2006: growth +1.4%
(d)   After 2006: decline -1.6% pa
Note the 1999 peak in gasoline consumption reflecting the increasing popularity of diesel cars.
The gap between consumption and production

Fig 12 : Gap between consumption and production

Consumption peaked 7 years after the production peak and is falling now in sync with production. The gap in 2014 was back to 1992 levels. Local oil production helped reduce the gap by a modest 1.2 mb/d over a short period of just 9 years.
Consumption decline was caused by a combination of efficiency gains (e.g. France, Germany and UK), high oil prices and economic problems in Southern Europe. There will be a minimum consumption level for operational reasons even at zero GDP growth so this decline will hit some limits when there will be serious problems. Under current trends consumption in 8 years will be back to the late 1960s, provided of course the gap can be filled by imports. The 2.6 mb/d Europe “saved” in 8 years is the equivalent of around 4 years of consumption growth in Asia. So Asia cannot endlessly count on Europe’s “help”.
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Matt Mushalik

Matt Mushalik, is a CPEng (Chartered Professional Engineer) and runs the blog Crude Oil Peak.

Tags: Europe, Oil, oil consumption