U.S. per capita energy consumption slightly down
U.S. per capita energy consumption in 2010 decreased somewhat since 2005, even as domestic petroleum production increased, according to data in a Congressional Research Service report posted online by Secrecy News.
The report (.pdf) notes that energy policy has been a recurring issue since energy shortages during the 1970s propelled it to the forefront. High consumer gas prices at the pump have also in recent weeks become an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. According to data quoted by the CRS, the inflation-adjusted price of gasoline in 2010 was approximately the same as it was in the early 1980s.
U.S. consumption of imported petroleum in 2010 as a percentage of the total also was approximately that of the early 1980s, at 45.1 percent, the CRS says. Domestic production of petroleum increased to 9.5 million barrels per day in 2010 from 7.9 mbd in 2005, although that amount is less than the peak amount of 11.7 mbd in 1970.
The transportation sector is almost entirely dependent on petroleum, mostly gasoline, the CRS report notes. Residential and commercial energy consumption, however, is mostly from electricity generated from coal and natural gas plants, and to a lesser extent nuclear energy plants.
Gas prices, as opposed to natural gas, are globally determined.
"No matter where it is produced or consumed, the price tends to move in the same direction at a similar rate. New supplies, or disruptions to existing supplies, will impact prices around the world, no matter where those events occur," the report says.
When it comes to why gas prices have recently increased, the report explains that "a major feature of the oil market is that very large capital investments, and considerable time, are necessary to bring known resources into production."
Investment in production occurs as a result not only of current demand and supply, but in the expectation of future supply and demand. Political decisions also play a major role, mostly because oil production is controlled by state-owned firms in many countries, the report also says.
- download the report, R40187 (.pdf)