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China among largest contributors to natural gas-led global energy consumption growth in 2018: BP

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-06-13 13:23

Sinopec employees inspect gas pipes in Puyang, Henan province. [Photo by Tong Jiang/for China Daily]

NEW YORK - China was one of the largest contributors to the growth of global primary energy consumption last year, surpassing most countries in the consumption of natural gas and renewables, according to the latest report by British multinational oil and gas giant BP.

Global primary energy consumption grew at a rate of 2.9 percent in 2018, almost doubling its 10-year average of 1.5 percent per year and marking the fastest pace since 2010, said BP's Statistical Review of World Energy this year, which was briefed here on Wednesday.

By fuel, the consumption growth was primarily propelled by natural gas, which contributed more than 40 percent of the surge.

Natural gas consumption rose 5.3 percent, or 195 billion cubic meters (bcm) year-on-year, one of the fastest growth rates since 1984.

Growth in gas consumption was driven mainly by the United States (78 bcm,) and supported by China (43 bcm,) Russia (23 bcm) and Iran (16 bcm).

In particular, China's annual gas consumption rose an "astonishing" 18 percent in 2018.

Spencer Dale, BP group chief economist, during the briefing event attributed China's strength in gas consumption to a continuation "that we saw in 2017 and continued in 2018" with government policies encouraging "a switch away from coal into gas in building sector and in industrial sector in order to improve air quality."

Renewables presented the second largest increment to the growth, which ticked up by 14.5 percent, or 71 millions of tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) last year,

The level was slightly below its historical average, yet renewables still remained the world's fastest growing energy source so far.

Last year, China became the largest contributor to the consumption growth in renewables with 32 mtoe, exceeding the growth of 26 mtoe in the entire the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which involves 36 member countries.

Overall, China, the United States and India together accounted for more than two thirds of the global increase in primary energy demand, with the US consumption expanding at its fastest rate for 30 years.

This occurred despite a backdrop of "modest GDP growth and strengthening energy prices," Dale said.

He pointed out that the global primary energy demand growth in 2018 appeared stronger than expected, because of a combination of weather-related effects and a further unwinding of industrial effects in China.

In terms of weather effects, he noted the United States, China, and Russia accounted for a quarter of the growth in energy demand last year, boosted by increased use of air conditioning and heating facilities.

Moreover, he noted that China's most energy-sensitive sectors - iron, steel and cement - which accounted for around a quarter of China's energy consumption, slowed down since 2014.

That reflects "the structural rebalancing of the Chinese economy from industrial sector towards more service consumer sector and so was likely to persist."

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