US oil production grew more than any other place in the world in 2012, contributing to the worldwide oil production increase of about 1.9 MMb/d.

Prolific unconventional shale plays boosted US oil production to 8.9 MMb/d, up 13.9% from 2011, according to the latest edition of BP’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy. Worldwide, about 86.2 MMb/d of oil was produced in 2012, while about 89.8 MMb/d was consumed.

The production surge came despite a drop in Iranian output caused by international sanctions, unanticipated outages in Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria, as well as lower output from the UK and Norway. Helping offset the decreases, besides oil production growth in the US, were increased output from Libya, record levels from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar along with production growth from Canada, Russia, and China.

Oil kept its position as the leading fuel of choice, making up 33.1% of the market share; however, the fuel’s sliver of the market continues to get smaller as the world’s energy supply mix becomes more diverse. According to the review, global oil consumption lost market share for the 13th consecutive year, dropping to its lowest in the review’s dataset history.

“The year 2012 saw a slowdown in the growth of energy consumption globally, partly as a result of the economic slowdown but also because individuals and businesses have responded to high prices by becoming more efficient in their use of energy,” Bob Dudley, group chief executive for BP, said in the review. “At the same time, the review shows that the supply of energy is coming from an increasing diversity of sources as the world’s energy market continues to adapt, innovate, and evolve.”

Coal: Of the fossil fuels, coal consumption grew the fastest, jumping 2.5% to 3.73 billion tonnes of oil equivalent over 2011. “Coal reached the highest share of global primary energy consumption (29.9%) since 1970,” the review said. However, the percentage of growth fell below the 10-year average of 4.4%.

Taking in most of the coal was China, which Dudley said consumed half of the world’s coal for the first time, with 1.87 billion tonnes of oil equivalent. The US came in a distant second, consuming nearly 438 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

China also led in coal production, producing 1.83 billion tonnes of oil equivalent, nearly 48% of the world’s supply, the review said. Production here coupled with production growth in Indonesia, which jumped 9%, offset the production decline in the US, which fell by just more than 7%.

Natural gas: Above-average consumption growth in the Americas and Africa contributed to the worldwide gas consumption increase of 2.2%, making up for less usage in the EU and the Former Soviet Union. Worldwide consumption of natural gas stood at 3,314.4 Bcm (117 Tcf) in 2012. Natural gas made up 23.9% of primary energy consumption in 2012, according to the review.

“Global natural gas production grew by 1.9%. The US (+4.7%) once again recorded the largest volumetric increase and remained the world’s largest producer,” the review said. “Norway (+12.6%), Qatar (+7.8%), and Saudi Arabia (+11.1%) also saw significant production increases, while Russia (-2.7%) had the world’s largest decline in volumetric terms.”

US output grew by 4.7% to 681.4 Bcm (24.1 Tcf) in 2012, representing 20.4% of the world’s total gas production.

Other fuels: The largest drop in global output was evident in nuclear production, which dropped by 6.9%, setting a record for the largest decline in this category. The aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster continues to impact output, as Japanese production plummeted by 89%. The percentage accounted for 82% of the global production decline, the review said.

“Nuclear output accounted for 4.5% of global energy consumption, the smallest share since 1984,” the review stated.

However, hydroelectric output saw its highest consumption percentage ever in 2012, reaching 6.7% of global energy consumption. Production in this area came in above average at 4.3% thanks to growth in China, according to the review.

Renewable forms of energy, including biofuels, wind energy, and solar power, made up 2.4% of global energy consumption. Production of these forms of energy was, however, mixed, the review noted. Biofuels production dropped for the first time since 2000, while renewable energy used in power generation increased by 15.2%.

“For those of us in the energy industry, the challenges are about how we respond to the big shifts we are seeing – a shift in demand towards emerging economies and a shift in supply towards a greater diversity of energy sources, including unconventionals,” Dudley said in a prepared statement.“The data show there is ample energy available. Our challenge as an industry is to make the best choices about where to invest. We want to provide energy in ways that enable us to be both safe and competitive – deploying our strengths while reducing our risks, and managing our costs.”

Contact the author, Velda Addison, at