By Shawn Langlois
The world's thirst for oil abated last year, with global consumption dropping by 1.2 million barrels a day in the biggest decline since 1982, according to a study released Wednesday by BP PLC (BP).
"Energy developments in 2009 were dominated by a global recession and, later in the year, a tentative recovery," said Tony Hayward, BP's embattled chief executive who's become a fixture on television and in newspapers in the aftermath of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill nearly two months ago.
"We can't know how durable this recovery will be," he added. "But the data show changes in the pattern of global energy consumption that are likely to indicate long-term change."
Proven oil reserves rose by 700 million barrels to a total of 1.33 trillion, thanks to increases in Brazil, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia, according to BP's statistical review for 2009.
It also showed proven reserves fell in Mexico, Russia, Norway and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, refining capacity around the world grew by 2.2% to 2 million barrels a day during 2009, due mostly to increases in China and India, BP said.
At the same time, U.S oil production surged by 460,000 barrels a day, the biggest increase in the world and the strongest U.S. growth in 40 years.
Globally, the report indicated that oil production fell by about 2 million barrels a day, due mainly to a reduction of about 1.1 million barrels in Saudi Arabia's daily output.
The study comes as BP continues to grapple with its crisis in the Gulf, where an explosion aboard a Transocean Ltd. (RIG) rig on April 20 killed 11 men and unleashed a flow of oil that has grown into the worst spill in U.S. history.
BP said Tuesday it had captured nearly 15,000 barrels within a 24-hour period thanks to a containment cap over the leaking well.
-By Shawn Langlois; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com