US demand for oil grew by more than China’s last year for the first time since 1999, according to the International Energy Agency, giving the strongest indication of how abundant energy supplies are driving an economic resurgence in the US.
The IEA – whose forecasts are the benchmark for the energy sector – said US oil demand grew by 390,000 barrels a day last year, or 2 per cent, reversing years of steady decline. Chinese demand grew by 295,000 b/d, the weakest in at least six years.
Oil demand figures are closely followed as indicators of economic growth, because use of fuels such as petrol and diesel indicate the strength of industrial and consumer activity.
As China’s economy has boomed over the past decade, its oil demand has surged, while US consumption has been falling steadily since 2005.
But, with new drilling techniques helping to unlock US shale oil and gas reserves, the country’s consumption of oil fuels is rising sharply again.
“It is clear that the US economy is rebounding very strongly thanks to its energy supplies,” said Antoine Halff, head of oil market research at the IEA. “Sometimes, oil is a lagging indicator, but sometimes it is the opposite and shows that an economy is growing faster than thought,” he added.
The IEA said US demand has been driven by fuels such as propane, which is used in petrochemical plants – demonstrating a pick-up in industrial activity in the US.
European oil demand is also showing signs of growth for the first time since the financial crisis and the IEA said that industrialised economies as a whole are likely to see oil demand rise for the first time since 2010.
As a result, oil inventories in OECD countries fell by 50m barrels in November – the most since December 2011 – pushing stocks 100m barrels beneath their five-year average.
据国际能源署(International Energy Agency, IEA)统计，2013年美国石油需求增长自1999年来首次超过中国。这是表明充足能源供应正在驱动美国经济复苏的最强大信号。