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Oil and gas import movements

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The latest Annual Energy Outlook from the US EIA has said that declines in US oil and natural gas imports are likely as a result of increasing domestic production from tight oil and shale plays. US liquid fuels net imports as a share of consumption is projected to decline from a high of 60% in 2005 and 40% in 2012 to 25% by 2016. The US is also projected to become a net exporter of natural gas by 2018.

However, other major economies are likely to become increasingly reliant on imported liquid fuels and natural gas. China, India and OECD Europe are expected to import at least 65% of their oil and 35% of their natural gas by 2020, becoming more like Japan which currently relies on imports for more than 95% of its oil and gas consumption.

The reasons for the above movements are different between emerging and developed economies. For China and India, oil demand growth from emergent middle classes will likely outpace domestic production, while OECD Europe will likely become more reliant as a result of declining oil production in the North Sea.


China is expected to experience the largest absolute growth in liquid fuels consumption, growing by 46% by 2020 and doubling from 2010 levels by 2040, as it moves from an industrial manufacturing economy to a more service oriented economy with greater automobile saturation. China is also expected to experience the largest growth in natural gas demand because the government is promoting gas as a preferred fuel to help alleviate air pollution. From 2010 to 2020, EIA projects natural gas consumption to rise at an average rate of 7.5%/y, while production will grow by an average of 2.4%/y, with growing shares from coalbed methane and shale gas coming online by 2020.


From 2010 to 2020 the EIA expects India to have the fastest growth rate in liquid fuels consumption and the second largest absolute growth (behind China), primarily driven by diesel fuels used in transportation, irrigation, manufacturing and electricity generation. India’s natural gas consumption is expected to grow on average by 1.5%/y from 2010 to 2020, while production decreases by an average of 1.1%/y during that time period.

OECD Europe

The demand for oil products in OECD Europe is expected to plateau as most countries will see their population remain flat. Oil output from the North Sea, the largest source of European production and the location of the Brent International price benchmark, reached its peak production level in 1996, and the EIA expects an average annual decline of 2.9% from 2010 to 2020. EIA projects overall natural gas production to decline about 2.6%/y from 2010 to 2020 before returning to 2010 levels in 2040. European natural gas consumption will grow at a modest 0.3%/y from 2010 to 2020.

Adapted from a press release by Claira Lloyd.

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