Global consumption of gasoline, heating oil and other petroleum products reached a record high of 88.9 million barrels a day in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration.
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Growth in Asia and other regions more than outpaced declining consumption in North American and Europe, both of which trail Asia in total petroleum use.
Asia surpassed North America as the world’s largest petroleum-consuming region in 2009. Between 2008 and 2012, Asia’s consumption grew by 4.4 million barrels a day. China and India fueled much of Asia’s demand increase, posting consumption growth of 2.8 million barrels a day and 800,000 barrels a day, respectively.
Based on projections from the EIA, China is expected to replace the U.S. as the world’s largest net oil importer sometime this fall, as demand in China grows and the U.S. benefits from a surge in domestic production.
The U.S. dominates petroleum use in North America, which has seen a decline in consumption since 2005. Declines were pronounced in 2008 and 2009 during the economic downturn, before consumption rebounded in 2010.
In 2011 and 2012, higher oil prices and increased fuel efficiency of light-duty vehicles contributed to reduced consumption in the U.S., the EIA noted. Motor gasoline consumption, which accounts for almost half of total U.S. liquids fuel consumption, fell by 290,000 barrels a day between 2010 and 2012.
Europe has recorded declines in petroleum use every year since 2006, partly due to an increase in energy efficiency.
A sluggish European economy has also weighed on petroleum use. Consumption declined 780,000 barrels a day in 2009 and 570,000 barrels a day last year.