World oil demand’s shift toward faster growing and less price-responsive products and regions

Joyce M. Dargay and Dermot Gately

February 2010


    Abstract Using data for 1971-2008, we estimate the effects of changes in price and income on world oil demand, disaggregated by product – transport oil, fuel oil (residual and heating oil), and other oil – for six groups of countries. Most of the demand reductions since 1973-74 were due to fuel-switching away from fuel oil, especially in the OECD; in addition, the collapse of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) reduced their oil consumption substantially. Demand for transport and other oil was much less price-responsive, and has grown almost as rapidly as income, especially outside the OECD and FSU. World oil demand has shifted toward products and regions that are faster growing and less price-responsive. In contrast to projections to 2030 of declining per-capita demand for the world as a whole – by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC – we project modest growth. Our projections for total world demand in 2030 are at least 20% higher than projections by those three institutions, using similar assumptions about income growth and oil prices, because we project rest-of-world growth that is consistent with historical patterns, in contrast to the dramatic slowdowns which they project.

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