Asia surpassed North America as the largest petroleum-consuming region in 2008.
In 1980 the US consumed the lion’s share of the world’s oil. Since that time, the world has changed significantly. India and China have both experienced significant growth, and their expanding middle classes demand more products and hence more oil consumption.
As the chart shows, the US portion of world oil consumption has dropped from almost 1/3 to less than 30%,, while Asia’s share has almost doubled. With a limited amount of oil, and increasing demand, the price was bound to go up.
What can we do about it, if anything? Increased production would help some, but since we are producing more now than we did in the early 2000s, it is obvious that we can not produce our way out of a price increase – we don’t have that much oil or control of the world market. Our oil is harder and more expensive to produce now- we’ve pumped all the easy, cheap oil out- and if the price is under $100/barrel it won’t pay for itself.
We will never again see gas under $3/gallon, and most likely the price will continue to rise. How will the high price of oil affect our lifestyle? Will it spur increased research on renewable energy? Will middle class growth come to a halt in Asia? Welcome to the future.