China overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest energy user last year, suggesting continued strength in global fuel-demand growth, according to the International Energy Agency.
China consumed 2,252 million metric tons of oil equivalent in 2009 in the form of oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear power and renewable sources, agency chief economist Fatih Birol said. That exceeded the 2,170 million tons used by the U.S.
China’s gross domestic product expanded 10.3 percent in the second quarter even as the government took measures to cool growth.
China, with Hong Kong included, was the biggest energy user in 2009, consuming 2.2 billion tons of oil equivalent, BP said in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy in June. The U.S. consumed 2.18 billion tons. Russia ranked third, BP said.
“As China overtakes the U.S. as the world’s largest energy consumer, it is not only a domestic issue for China, but has repercussions for the rest of the world not only in supply terms, but also in how the energy is consumed,” Birol said.
“If China uses electric cars, hybrids and so on, they will impose the manufacturing line on most of the rest of the world.”
China’s oil imports gained 48 percent last year and have almost doubled since 2005, according to customs data. The nation increased oil imports to a record 22.1 million tons, or about 5.4 million barrels a day, customs figures show.
Global oil supplies will become “tighter” after 2015 as a result of declining production outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and growing control of reserves by state-run producers, Birol said.