4.6 barrels per year

Morgan Downey at Scarce Whales brings us this fascinating chart:

He explains of the curious stability of per capita oil consumption since 1982 as the shift to open markets:
Why has per capita consumption been so stable since 1982 having grown at an increasing pace for the prior 120 years (chart 2 again)? The answer is that a new method of rationing demand emerged in 1983: benchmark pricing linked to transparent free liquid markets (see chapter 1 of Oil 101). Free markets and necessarily volatile oil price became the adjusting factor matching available supply to demand.
This may be true in part, but I am still surprised - economic growth tends to increase per capita consumption of resources even in the presence of free markets (which we can see with oil):
To put the global average of 4.6 barrels of oil consumption per year in perspective, the number of barrels consumed per person in 2008 in India was 0.9, China 2.2, Brazil 4.6, Germany 11.1 and the US 23.3.
Since global GDP has grown quite a bit since 1982 (I would guess faster than population), I would have expected per capita consumption of oil to rise accordingly. In other words, I would have expected the free market to match supply and demand, but to meet higher global demand. Have efficiency gains completely offset this? I'd be interested to hear if anyone has a good explanation.

No comments:

Post a Comment