Global Resources: Energy:

A Statistical Review of the World Energy Situation

By Dr. Árpád Zoltán Nagy
Professor of Physics, Budapest, Hungary

In this brief overview, the world consumption of primary energy -- oil, gas, coal, hydro and nuclear -- is summarized in a Table based on the 2001 data of British Petrol, which provides basic data on a year-by-year basis. The Table comprises the above-cited commercially traded fuels only, excluding other fuel sources such as wood, peat or animal waste, which are important fuel sources in many countries, but are unreliably documented in terms of consumption statistics.

In this Table the primary energy values of nuclear power generation have been derived by calculating the equivalent amount of fossil fuel required to generate the same volume of electricity in a thermal power station, assuming a conversion efficiency of 38%. Such a methodological approach yields different results as compared to those officially reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna or by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Paris; their figures are indicated respectively for the sake of comparison. While not large, the differences illustrated in these figures is nonetheless of significance.

World consumption of primary energy increased only marginally in 2001, growing by 0.3%. 2001 was the third year since 1998 in which primary energy consumption increased by less than 0.5% year-on-year. The main cause of demand weakness in 2001 was the downturn in the world economy: world economic growth dropped to 1.5%, well below the 10-year (1991-2001) annual trend of 2.7%.


Brent oil prices averaged $24.77 per barrel in 2001. This was lower than the $28.98 recorded in 2000 but still well above the post-1986 average of around $19 per barrel. Through a series of quota reductions, OPEC was successful in keeping prices (for the OPEC crude basket) within its $22-28 target range through late September. However, the market could not sustain prices at these levels following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the USA, which had a severe negative impact on oil demand. Brent prices hit a low point of $16.54 per barrel in mid-November and averaged well under $20 per barrel in the fourth quarter.

In total, OPEC oil production fell by 720,000 barrels per day (b/d) or 2.7% year-on-year. In percentage terms, the largest decrease was 8.4% in Iraq, where UN-sanctioned exports were disrupted severely in January, June and December, following rollovers of the UN's 'Oil for Food' program. In absolute terms, the largest decrease was in Saudi Arabia, whose 350,000 b/d cut accounted for almost half the OPEC total.

The decline in OPEC oil production during 2001 was almost exactly offset by the increase in production outside OPEC. For the second consecutive year, production in the former Soviet Union (FSU) nations grew strongly, taking the two-year production increase to over one million b/d. Outside the former Soviet bloc, non-OPEC production grew by less than 100,000 b/d. Modest gains in Mexico, Brazil, Norway and Equatorial Guinea were largely offset by falls in Colombia, Australia and the UK.

World oil consumption in 2001 was down marginally from the year before, and was the first decline since 1993. Europe and Africa were the only regions to register consumption increases. Demand weakness was especially pronounced in Asia, where consumption fell 0.5% compared with a 10-year trend of 3.6% annual growth.

Natural Gas

Consumption of natural gas grew only by 0.3% in 2001, a marked change from the 4.3% increase registered in 2000. The global picture was heavily influenced by developments in North America, where record high gas prices and the economic downturn resulted in a sharp 5% consumption decrease. Consumption in all other regions increased, with Asia Pacific especially strong, up by 5%.

The decline in North American gas consumption was not matched on the production side. North American production rose 1.6%, stimulated by high prices. The rise in production allowed a rebuilding of US and Canadian gas inventories, which began the year at record lows but ended 2001 well above seasonal norms. The Middle East was the fastest-growing gas production region in 2001, driven by the expansion of Qatari and Omani liquefied natural gas exports.

Other Fuels 

World coal consumption increased by 1.7% in 2001, as Chinese demand grew strongly, following four years of decline, and strong increases were recorded in some other Asian countries. European coal use resumed its trend decline, falling 1.2%. US coal consumption fell 1.7%, reversing much of the strong growth seen during 2000.

Hydroelectric generation contracted by a sizeable 3.7%, reflecting sharp drops of 14.1% in North America and 11.7% in Brazil.

Nuclear Power

Consumption of nuclear power rose in all regions except Africa, expanding by 2.8% globally, despite a very limited increase in nuclear generation capacity according to the Table.

World nuclear power generation increased nearly 4% in 2001 to just under 2544 TWh and accounted for some 16% of total global electricity production, according to figures released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). At the end of 2001, there were a total of 438 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries with a combined capacity of 353 GWe. There were also 32 new reactors under construction in ten countries in 2001.

At the end of 2001, 360 nuclear power units were connected to the grid in OECD countries, generating approximately 2189 TWh, 24% of total electricity supply. Eleven units were under construction in the OECD countries: one in the Czech Republic (Temelin II), four in Japan, four in Korea, and two in the Slovak Republic (Mochovce III and IV). Plant lifetime extensions were authorized or being planned in several countries. In the next decade, total electricity generation in the OECD countries is projected to increase by increasing the amount of nuclear electricity produced. No new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States for many years, and no new nuclear facilities are expected to be built through 2025.  In the United States total nuclear capacity is projected to increase slightly from 98.2 gigawatts in 2001 to a peak of 100.4 gigawatts in 2006 as a result of uprates, before declining to 99.6 gigawatts by 2025.


1)      British Petrol statistical review of world energy, June 2002
see also: Oil Information, 2001
               Oil Information, 2002 (with 2001 data)
OECD Statistical Publication of the International Energy Agency (IAE), Paris  

2)      Early Release of the Annual Energy Outlook, 2003, including U.S. Key Energy Issues to 2025 (Complete report is available as of early January 2003) US Energy Information Agency (EIA, November 20, 2002)

3) British Petrol Statistical Review of U.S. Energy, November 20, 2002

4) IAEA Release, July 11, 2002

5) NEA Annual Report, 2001

6) World Nuclear Power Reactors 2000-2001 and Uranium Requirements
World Nuclear Association (WNA), August 2002
According to WNA, total world uranium requirement for commercial nuclear power reactors for the 2001 year was 64,956 tons U as compared to the Table where 601.2 million tons oil equivalent is shown for identical nuclear power.

Table - Primary Energy Consumption by Fuel

[in million tons oil equivalent]

In 2001 Oil Gas Coal Nuclear Hydro Total in 2001 % Total in 1991
Total North America 1066.3 650.4 590.9 202.6 129.7 2639.6 -2.4 2300.7
Total Europe 760.2 423.0 344.1 225.0 142.4 1894.5 0.9 1770.7
Total FSU 169.6 493.6 180.4 51.2 54.9 949.4 1.2 1375.3
Total Middle East 206.4 181.3 8.0 --- 1.5 397.2 1.8 264.3
Total Asia Pacific 972.7 274.7 1020.7 115.0 128.8 2511.7 2.3 1886.2
TOTAL WORLD 3510.6 2164.3 2255.1 601.2 594.5 9124.8 0.3 8147.2
European Union 15 637.1 343.3 212.5 201.6 84.4 1478.9 1.3 1345.6
OECD 2189.6 1167.2 1108.2 518.8 291.0 5274.5 -0.8 4606.7

(%) means changes in 2001 over 2000


BWW Society member Dr. Arpad Zoltan Nagy received his Ph.D.  in 1972 from Lorand Eotvos University, Budapest, with his thesis on Impact of Dry Bulk Density on Neutron Moisture Measurements. From 1954 to 1980 he worked as an Applied Research Physicist and Project Leader at the Central Research Institute for Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. From 1972 to 1975 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute Laue-Langevin in 1976 for 6 months. In 1980 he joined the Physics Department at Godollo Agricultural University as Professor of Physics; he was promoted to Chairman of the Department the same year and has been a Pensioner since July 1996. Concurrently, from 1980, he was a Senior Consultant on a part-time basis and full- time Senior Consultant from 1996 to 2000 in the Hungarian Power Companies. Since February 2000, he has served as Senior Consultant in Budapest for Nuclear Consulting Ltd.

Professor Nagy is the author of 80 articles with 73 citations from Science Citation Index in Philadelphia. Some of these papers are on the composition of the Luna-16lunar sample, the Soviet-American Conference on cosmochemistry on the moon and planets; determination of boron range distribution in ion-implanted silicon by the 10 boron (neutron, alpha) 7 lithium reaction, Journal of Radioanalytical Chemistry; variation of boron concentration in metallic glass ribbons, Modern Trends; the neutron and its applications in science and technology; physics and development: general aspects of agrophysics; irradiation facilities for neutron activation analysis in Dubna; measuring methods and instrumentation in agriculture and food research; energy planning and environmental protection in Hungary; energy use and carbon-dioxide emission in Hungary; prospect for carbon sequestration in the biosphere; and the biopotential of Hungary for biomassproduction. He also served as Editor-in-Chief, International Agrophysics, Kluwer Academic Pub., from 1983 until 1990.

Dr. Nagy was Chairman of the National Committee on Agrophysics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences from 1988 to 1991; an Invited Lecturer on the global greenhouse effect and mitigation options, Icase-Asian Symposium; Visiting Professor to the Asian Institute of Technology; Lecturer in the Physics Department of the Thammasat University; and Lecturer at the Institute of Atomic Energy for Peace in 1994. In addition he visited the Daresbury-Rutherford Appleton Laboratory that same year. He participated in the European Commission Conference on information technology in Brussels in 1995, was accepted as a Lecturer at the conference on energy and environment, organized together with Wayne State University and held in Cairo in 1996. Dr. Nagy was also invited as a lecturer to the New Technology in Physics Education Conference in China in 1998.

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