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The Harsh Truth: We’re Using More Oil Than Ever

In this age of climate crisis, the world is consuming more crude than ever. Peak oil demand? Not yet. Maybe one day, perhaps even soon, around 2030. For now, however, the global economy still runs on oil.

It will take a while before governments certify it, but every piece of data points in the very same direction: In the past few weeks, global oil demand has surpassed the monthly peak set in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.Expressed in barrels a day, the fresh record high in global oil consumption totals about 102.5 million, likely hit in the last few weeks in July and above the 102.3 million of August 2019. Picture this: We use enough crude to fill about 6,500 Olympic-size swimming pools every day. More than a third of those swimming pools would be needed to quench the thirst of two countries: the US and China.

It’s not unexpected.  The International Energy Agency, which compiles benchmark supply and demand statistics, has anticipated it for months. It was just a question of timing, since oil demand surges during the northern hemisphere summer, when millions of European and American families guzzle gasoline and jet fuel during their holidays. The wholesale cost of refined products, such as gasoline, is surging too.

Granted, the new demand milestone is just one flimsy data point. Global oil consumption statistics are routinely revised, and a final figure probably won’t be set in stone until next year, or even 2025. The margin of error is relatively wide, too, probably at least 1 million barrels a day. But experience indicates that demand is typically revised higher, rather than lower.

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