Given the multitude of uses for crude oil worldwide, in the transportation, industrial, commercial and residential sectors, it’s not surprising that we are using more petroleum products than ever before. What is also unsurprising is that the U.S.A tops all other countries – more than doubling second ranked China. In fact, North America’s largest three countries all appear in the worldwide top ten oil consuming nations; though our overall consumption has decreased slightly since it peaked in 2007, the United States, Canada and Mexico still have startlingly high rates of oil use.
Americans consume an average of approximately 20 million barrels of petroleum products daily, which is more than the European Union’s total usage of 15 million barrels per day. And while Canada ranked only 7th in 2018, at just over 2.2 million barrels per day, its per capita usage rate is quite high: in 2018, it was 64.4 barrels daily per 1000 people and ranked slightly ahead of the United States’ 61 barrels. Mexico ranked behind both with 2.075 million barrels per day overall and fell far behind their per capita amount with only 18 daily barrels per 1000 residents.
As per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2017, 14 million barrels – or 71% of Americans’ total petroleum consumption – was used daily for transportation. The industrial sector was responsible for nearly a quarter of the total, with residential use accounting for 3%, the commercial sector for 2% and electrical power generation for just 1% of the overall consumption.
According to the National Energy Board of Canada, the transportation sector accounts for approximately two-thirds of Canada’s oil demands; this can be attributed to the sheer size of the nation, and long distances that people and goods must travel between cities, combined with the high number of vehicles in use. Next, the industrial sector is responsible for nearly 30% of the oil demand – for mining, manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction; the commercial and agricultural industries collectively account for a tenth of the demand, while usage in the residential sector, primarily for heating and electricity, consumes a mere 2% of the overall amount.
It is incumbent upon North Americans to set an example for the rest of the planet by reducing our oil consumption as much as possible, and given all the alternative energy sources under development, there is no time like the present.