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Oil and Gas Consumption

Ex.1 Read the text and translate it.

It comes as no surprise, that the principal consumer countries are the developed countries in North America, Europe and Asia. The champion of oil consumption is the United States. With a little less than 5% of total world population, they consume a quarter of all the oil produced each year. And their consumption is not slowing down: +16 % in the 10 years from 1993 to 2003, approximately the world average.

Among the developed countries, we have, on the one hand, the high-consumption-per- inhabitant countries (the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium) and on the other hand the countries with more reasonable consumption habits, like the major European countries, where each inhabitant consumes on average half as much oil as in the high per inhabitant consumption countries.

In Asia, consumption is rocketing. China has almost doubled its consumption in the last 10 years and will certainly not stop there. During the same period, the total consumption of the Asia/Pacific zone has overtaken that of the North American zone, with an increase of 39% on average over the 10-year period. Asia has become the new oil giant. But who can blame these developing countries for wanting to offer their populations the same comforts as those experienced by the populations of the rich countries? Even more so, because on average, a Chinese person consumes 15 times less oil than an American and an Indian 30 times less!s:

As for oil, the major gas consumers are the developed countries, as well as a number of developing countries that possess a significant production capacity and a large population (Iran, Egypt, Uzbekistan …). Gas consumption is increasing steadily each year, even more rapidly than oil since it progressed by 24% over the 10 years from 1993 to 2003.

As is the case for oil, the Middle East possesses major gas reserves (41% of world reserves). On the other hand, its production remains limited (10% of world production). The major consuming countries of North America and Europe are drawing on their own reserves, partly because the transport of gas is proportionally more expensive than that of oil. It is therefore less interesting to bring gas from distant locations.

Thus it can be seen that several Middle Eastern countries, all members of OPEC, together hold 2/3 of worldwide oil reserves, with a special mention for Saudi Arabia which alone possesses ¼ of these world reserves. OPEC in total holds 80% of world reserves, whereas, at the moment, it only produces a little less than 40% of the oil consumed throughout the world. Naturally this translates into a very high number of years equivalent, often exceeding 100 years. Logical conclusion: the Middle East, already a strategic zone for oil production, is going to become more and more so as years go by.

Total oil reserves today represent 40 years or so of consumption. But this has been the case for several decades. That means that, until now, the oil consumed has been replaced by new reserves (exploration discoveries, improvements in recovery from existing fields, increases in oil prices making development of expensive oil fields more economic).

At the beginning of the 21st century, we are at a turning point. Exploration and discovery of new fields is not capable by itself of renewing reserves. Even if we can still count on improvement in recovery rates, oil will be exhausted several decades from now. But before this point of total exhaustion, the threat of shortages in the immediate future hangs over us, that is to say in the next 5 years for the pessimists and the next 25 years for the more optimistic: supply will no longer be capable of responding to an ever-increasing demand. The “post-oil” era, therefore, should be of concern to us, even today. Of immediate importance is the rapid development of replacement sources of energy allowing the oil that remains to be reserved for “noble” uses (the manufacture of plastics, synthetic fibres …) and above all the achievement of very significant energy savings, particularly in the major consumer countries.

Gas is a little more evenly spread throughout the world than oil. However, the Middle East and the CIE group of countries (Community of Independent States, set up following the dismemberment of the USSR) together hold almost three quarters of world reserves. At the same time, the domestic reserves of the United States and China have been reduced to several years of production. As for oil, a major bout of geostrategic fisticuffs is in preparation for access to gas reserves!

There are 65 years of world reserves, based on 2003 demand – the same thing as saying that the problem of the future of gas is the same as that of oil, but with a lag of twenty years of so. This lag applies not only to the exhaustion of reserves, but also to the Hubbert Peak for gas that is expected to arrive 15 - 20 years after that of oil. Gas therefore provides us with breathing space that must be used in the best way possible to prepare for the “post-hydrocarbon” era.


Ex.2 Answer the questions:

  1. What countries are the main consumers of oil and gas reserves?
  2. How can you comment on energy consumption in the US and China?
  3. Where are most oil and gas reserves located?
  4. What supply of oil and gas reserves do we possess to respond to our demand?
  5. Are there any ways to renew reserves of oil and gas?



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