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BP, 57th Statistical Review

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The defining feature of global energy markets during 2007-08 has been high and volatile prices, reflecting a tight balance of supply and demand (and just ahead of a special meeting of the OPEC cartel on 29 November, there remains divide among the OPEC cartel on where prices need to be to stabilise supply). In 2007 the developed world experienced the biggest decline in demand for oil since 1983, but in poorer countries, demand grew by over 4%, partly because of faster economic growth. Demand is falling in countries with heavy taxes and rising slowly where taxes are moderate, but in coutries where energy consumption is subsidised, demand growth is higher obliging some governments to reconsider their approach to subsidies and taxation and placing issues such as energy security, trade and alternative energies at the forefront of the political agenda worldwide.

Energy security in 2007-08 is a tale of competition for access to resources, rising resource nationalism and uncertainty, coupled with constrained capacity, maturing sources within the OECD and high recovery costs. 2007-08 was another year of rapid growth for alternative energy sources including biofuels, solar and wind power, with renewed attention to the possible role of nuclear power. But growth in primary energy demand from fossil sources (particularly coal – evidencing strong and stable growth for the past five years) means that global carbon emissions are still rising. As policy-makers around the world seek to address national concerns about energy security and climate change, reliable data is an essential tool for decision-makers and investors alike – but how far can historical data help us to plan for the future?

This talk is part of the Centre for Energy Studies series.

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