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Nov. 30, 2012: North America Leads Shift in Global Energy Balance, Says IEA

November 30, 2012
LONDON — The global energy map is changing in dramatic fashion, primarily due to increased oil and gas production in North America, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced as it introduced the 2012 edition of its World Energy Outlook.

“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” said Maria van der Hoeven, IEA executive director. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”

The World Energy Outlook finds that extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will bring a major shift in global energy flows. In the New Policies Scenario, the outlook’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90 percent of Middle Eastern oil exports going to Asia by 2035. While regional dynamics change, global energy demand will push higher, growing by more than one-third to 2035. China, India, and the Middle East account for 60 percent of the growth; demand barely rises in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, which includes the United States, but there is a pronounced shift towards gas and renewables.

Renewables are expected to become the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035. However, this rapid increase depends on continued subsidies. In 2011, these subsidies (including for biofuels) amounted to $88 billion, but over the period to 2035 need to amount to $4.8 trillion; over half of this has already been committed to existing projects or is needed to meet 2020 targets.

Publication date: 11/26/2012

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