BP 2016: Global Energy Production at a Glance

Oil, gas, nuclear, hydro and new-renewables production all grew in 2015 while coal production declined by 4%, the first significant decline for many decades. But global CO2 emissions were still up by 0.1%. Notably, CO2 emissions rose in Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland.

New renewables (wind, solar, biomass etc) continue their meteoric rise from a feeble base and still only represent 2.8% of the global energy mix (that excludes biomass used throughout developing countries). Fossil fuels still dominate with 86.1% of primary energy in 2015 compared with 86.8% in the year 2000.

The BP statistical review of World Energy  was published on 8th June. This post gives a broad overview of energy production trends and CO2 emissions in 9 simple charts. BP provide annual averages for all major energy classes with series that begin in 1965. All charts are plotted using million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) which is a means of allowing apples to be compared with oranges.

Figure 1 One may be tempted to say that global oil production rose by 3.2% despite the rout in oil prices. The reality is that a 3.2% rise in global oil production caused the rout in oil prices. There are some big winners and losers. The USA was up 8.5%! Other winners include Brazil up 7.9%, the UK up 13.4%, Saudi Arabia up 4.6% and Iraq up 22.9%. The big losers are Peru down 11.1%, Syria down 18.2%, Yemen down 67.8%, Libya down 13.4%, Sudan down 12.3%, Tunisia down 14.1% and Australia down 10.9%. Embedded in these figures is a story of total failure of US and NATO foreign policy.

Figure 2 Global gas production continues its upwards march as it becomes increasingly important in the global energy mix. There are a couple of noteworthy statistics. Dutch gas production is down 22.8% as the Dutch authorities reduce production from the Groningen gas field owing to subsidence and earthquakes that were causing structural damage. This is one of Europe’s major primary energy sources. Venezuela was up 13.2%. Rumours of that country’s undoing are perhaps premature. Bangladesh was up 12.2% as that country continues to exploit its large gas reserves.

Figure 3 Coal production looks as though it may have peaked, at least in the near-term. It has succumbed to two major forces. The first is the ending of the industrialisation phase of the Chinese economy. The second is international pressure to phase out coal because of concern over CO2 emissions. Global coal production was down 4%. There is one noteworthy winner in Russia where production was up 4.5%. Elsewhere the USA, Canada, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, The UK, Indonesia and Thailand all posted double digit % losses. Production in China, the world’s largest producer by far, was down 2%.

Figure 4 Notably, global nuclear power production is once again on a rising trend. With 69 GWe of new power stations under construction this is a trend that may continue. The big winners in nuclear power production are China up 28.9% and India up 9.5%. The big losers are Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

Figure 5 Global hydro production was up 1% and the overall upwards trend must clearly reflect growing global capacity. But it is more difficult to make sense of the annual figures for individual countries since these are heavily impacted by rainfall patterns. The only countries that appear to have expanded capacity are Turkey up 64.6%, Indonesia up 5.9% and China up 5%.

Figure 6 The other renewables category includes wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels. The meteoric rise continues though the +15.2% rise in 2015 compares with +20% in 2011. The absolute gain of 48.3 Mtoe needs to be compared with oil up 133.2 tonnes, gas up 69.3 Mtoe and coal down 158.8 Mtoe.

Figure 7 The rate of growth in CO2 emissions has slowed in the last 5 years as gas and renewables substitute for coal in power generation and the Chinese economy evolves. Notable statistics include Germany up 0.8%, Austria up 3.6%, Portugal up 7.6%, Spain up 6.8%. Italy up 5.1%, Ireland up 5.4% and China down 0.1%.

Figure 8 The rate of growth in global primary energy production appears to be slowing which most likely reflects the changing face of the Chinese economy. Primary energy is still overwhelmingly dominated by fossil fuels that accounted for 86.1% of global energy production in 2015. This compares with 86.8% in 2000.

Figure 9 While the growth in new renewables looks spectacular (Figure 6) they remain insignificant in the global energy mix amounting to 2.8% of the total in 2015 compared with 2.4% the year before.

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24 Responses to BP 2016: Global Energy Production at a Glance

  1. Hugh Sharman says:

    Thanks Euan! During 2015, the US gas extraction rate ( 705 mtoe ) more or less caught up with demand.(714 mtoe). So at last, it begins to look plausible that the USA really can become a gas exporter.

    The main question is who, if anyone, profits from such exports?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Hugh, you only have to look at gas rig utilisation to realise that shale gas production has been massively reigned in over the last 7 years. The US also has import contracts with Canada which have pegged domestic production below consumption.

      But I still think LNG exports of shale gas is bonkers. I think its born out of paranoia over Russia and the fictitious use by Russia of energy as a weapon.

      • Willem Post says:


        The US wants to pressure Russia long-term, so it will not ever have (despite its abundant resources) a thriving economy that also trades with Europe and others.

        That started when the US sent an expeditionary force into Russia to fight Communism in 1917.

        The US wants Europe to be more dependent on US gas, not Russian gas; just one aspect of all-around pressure.

        Moving NATO to Russian borders and moving borders eastward (Ukraine), is another.

        The unexpected annexation of Crimea was the result of the US Ukraine caper.

        It may be bonkers, but the US gas lobby will get enough incentives to make LNG exports pay.

        • Jurg Burg says:

          You do realize that the Russians attacked Ukraine where there are large natural gas deposits, and which Ukraine said they were going to develop on their own to be less dependent on Russia? Do you realize also that Russia is trying to create a gas cartel along the same lines as OPEC with itself and Iran at the centre? Russia is the agressor here, trying to make itself the controller of global natural gas.

  2. clivebest says:

    Here is the green spin on the future from Bloomberg. It is based on Paris climate change policies being implemented. Emissions peak in 2020 and then essentially remain constant into second half of this century. For some reason they ignore increased nuclear. Here is a classic quote:

    “As natural gas and coal plants are increasingly idled in favor of renewables, their capacity factors will take a big hit, and lifetime cost of those plants goes up. Think of them as the expensive back-up power for cheap renewables.”


    • JerryC says:

      Guess it never occurred to the geniuses at Bloomberg that if your cheap energy source needs an expensive back-up system in order to function, it’s not really cheap. What are they teaching people at college these days?

      • Nigel de Haas says:

        Is a cheap energy source still cheap if it needs a floor subsidy to encourage investment?

      • Howard L. says:

        They are teaching them very little of use..

      • Euan Mearns says:

        When I went to university in the UK in the 1970s it was between 5 and 10% of the school population that made it. You had to have good grades. Back then there was strong differentiation. To get an “A”(top grade) you had to be smart. It was easy to get a “D” on a scale that ran from A to E.

        I ended up doing geology that turned out to be quite hard – crystallography, mineralogy and thermodynamics etc. But I came out second top of my class of about 30. So I know I’m smart. I have been through meat grinder of differentiation of intellectual capacity.

        But today with the “democratisation” of opinion and of intellectual capacity where 50% of the population (school leavers) go to university and 50% of those get a “B” we see the abandonment of the intellectual elite.

        Well not quite. Oxbridge manage to maintain standards and so the gulf between them and us gets ever larger. We have reached the point where we have third rate university lecturers teaching dross to idiots who simply mop it up and come out as graduates to rule over us. Delivering government policy is not challenged but is centre stage.

        Morons with “Bs” have been let loose on the internet.

        • I got a lower second from Imperial College in civil engineering. Not bad considering I was second-youngest in a class of 73. I was not yet 21 when graduating. There were only 2 girls in the class and one of them left early.

          I did a check recently and 70% of Imperial’s graduates are not British. The proportion is even lower for post-grads. I was one of only 5 foreigners in my class. Only 5 had been to public-school (2 of them were non-British) – the others had all been to free grammar schools.

          I feel sorry for the smart Brits who now get a lousy state education and cannot go to these prestigious universities. Grammar schools seems to be fee-paying these days. IMHO, the rot started when state schools stopped being selective.

        • Robert Honeybourne says:

          To what extent is the problem that the education no longer teaches basics? I think people probably know quite a lot who get a B, but the ‘lot’ is the wrong stuff. You can learn how to model data on a computer and make an app and run projections, but keeping a coal fire burning and carrying the coal from the shed teaches you something too. It’s where the learning ‘starts’ that’s the problem

          I’m sure that a good proportion of the ‘morons on the internet’ would not have been had they been taught links to the fundamentals – this is why it is so good to have ‘old boys’ on these blogs!

  3. In other words even if we lump all “clean” sources of energy together, we still are behind the smallest fossil fuel source of gas.

  4. mark4asp says:

    Eurostat CO2 emission changes in 2015, showing CO2 emissions up in Europe. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7244707/8-03052016-BP-EN.pdf/88e97313-dab3-4024-a035-93b2ab471cd9 (pdf – press release)

  5. I’m sitting here wondering how many more graphs like Figure 9 we have to show before the futility of trying to decarbonize world energy by replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar becomes apparent to everyone.

    • When did I write that. I do Not believe so

    • Willem Post says:


      I made some calculations regarding replacing crude oil with corn crops. I have added other Harvard section for the dreamers.

      Plant Material Replacing Crude Oil?

      To replace the Btu value of the world’s annual crude oil production with the same Btu value as corn kernels, about 3.04 billion acres would be required of the 12.14 b acres currently used for food production, of which about 3.40 b acres are in annual crop production, i.e., about 3.04/3.40 = 89% of the world’s crop land would be required for corn. Corn replacing coal and gas would require additional acreage. Also, there is no equivalence, as crude oil, coal and gas are much more useful for various purposes than corn kernels.

      Corn crop: 160 bu/acre/y x 56 lb/bu x 7000 Btu/lb x 0.85 = 53,312,000 net Btu/acre/y, equivalent to 9.6 barrels of oil/acre/y.
      World crude oil production replaced by corn = 80 million/d x 365 d/y = 29,200 million barrels/y.
      Land area in corn = 29,200 million/9.6 = 3.040 b acres.
      World land area for food production = 18,963,881 sq mi x 640 acre/sq mi = 12.14 b acres, of which 28%, 3.40 b acres, is in annual crop production.

      “Bionic Leaf” Research at Harvard

      The bionic leaf is a semiconductor wafer, coated with a catalyst, placed in water, to produce hydrogen gas that is fed to a bacterium called “ralstonia eutropha”, which uses the hydrogen to generate biomass. By changing key gene of the bacterium, isopropanol, isobutanol, isopentanol, and PHB, a precursor to bioplastic, were produced. The bionic leaf scrubs CO2 from the atmosphere at 180 grams/kWh.

    • Willem Post says:


      Here is a calculation regarding the cost of transforming the world’s economy to RE.

      World Economy on Renewable Energy

      Many people think we can have renewable energy for 10 billion people and their economies by 2050, or 2100. Prorating Vermont’s capital cost for 10 billion people would be $20 b x 10000/0.626 = $320 trillion, adjusting for per capita income would be 12,380/47,000 x 320 = $84 trillion*.

      *The gross world product was about $78 trillion, or $78 t/6.3 b = $12,380/capita, in 2014. Vermont’s GDP/capita was about $47,000 in 2015.

      World spending on renewables was about $300 b in 2015, of which about $100 b by China. Some RE people, after the Paris conference, called for RE spending to be increased to $1.0 trillion. The above numbers indicate at least 84/34 years = $2.47 trillion/y would be required by 2050, or 84/84 = $1.0 trillion/y by 2100, to avert “calamity”.

      However, significant categories of costs are not included, such as having a transformed transportation system and other infrastructures, various transformed industries, healthcare systems, defense systems, education systems, etc., all that to be transformed with renewable energy!

      No such thing will ever happen, unless massive nuclear capacity is built, and that capacity would have to provide about 80% of all world energy, to synthetically produce replacements for fossil fuels and to generate electricity, with wind, solar and hydro providing the other 20%. France generates about 80% of its electricity with nuclear plants, equivalent to about 35% of its primary energy. France has the lowest electric rates in west Europe.

      Here is a table of global final energy consumption percentages, which indicates hardly any progress to avert “calamity”. If the world is making so little progress, then Vermont “doing its RE part”, i.e., collecting as many subsidies as quickly as possible, is a farcical exercise in futility. For Vermont it would be much better to concentrate on building energy efficiency and increasing the mileage of the vehicle population.

      Year 2011 2012 2013 2014
      FF 78.2 78.4 78.3 78.3
      Nuclear 2.8 2.6 2.6 2.5
      RE 19.0 19.0 19.1 19.2


  6. Interesting that the political issue of climate change continues to be mentioned by Big Oil Companies. Could it be their marketers what to sell products to their many green customers.

    For those wanting to learn what a false science being promoted by President Obama and Hillary Clinton please take 42 Minutes out of your busy life and listen to a video by Dr. Neil Frank, retired Houston weatherman and former head of the U. S. Hurricane center, on the subject of why CO2 has little to do with Climate Change and so called Global Warming.


    On another issue, I think it is interesting that BP and other Major Oil Companies never give their price forecasts after giving their pretty predictions to the public.

    Oil and gas forecasts need to be explored but remember Shumacher’s words in “Small is Beautiful, “Predictions will always be wrong because the predictor’s do not know what is the minds of the few men that control the future.

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  9. John F. Hultquist says:

    @clive 4: pm
    … a big song and dance about …

    … very little. At least that’s my thought.

    The few people I talk to about such things seem easily fooled by numbers, especially percentages and charts. I’m sure all those reading this are aware of the problems – starting a percent change calculation with a very small base, and so on.
    I do want to point out a peeve regarding the BP charts. The green “Global other renewables” has a base of 0 and a top bar of 400 (top data point of about 360). The gray “Global coal” chart has top data points at 4000, with a decline in the last year.
    If shown side-by-side, by someone with a certain agenda, the casual observer might think renewables will soon displace all other sources of energy. The last 2 multicolor charts are useful in showing a factual picture – and the near term future.

    An after-thought: I notice from news reports there seems to be a growing push-back from citizens regarding new wind and solar grid-scale developments. Insofar as the installed base is now sizable, the rate or percentage increase of this category will slow. All the numbers may stabilize for many years until a miracle happens.

  10. Kirk Gothier says:

    It will take a whole lot more than tinkering with grid priority and production tax credits to stop the madness of burning and inhaling a priceless, irreplaceable resource, to meet energy demand for billions: http://euanmearns.com/bp-2016-global-energy-production-at-a-glance/.

    Until we complete this work and identify a clear path towards clean air and water, sustainable communities and prosperity for all our children, we’re toast… http://docketpublic.energy.ca.gov/PublicDocuments/15-IEPR-11/TN205398_20150719T170914_Kirk_Gothier_Comments_Kirk_Gothier_Comments_on_Climate_Adaptati.pdf.

  11. robertok06 says:

    Figure 9, showing a meagre 2.8% of renewables’ (other than hydro) contribution to the total primary energy of the planet mirrors this one…


    … about the fantastic performance of Energiewende-land.

    Isn’t it comic?

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