The world’s overall energy consumption grew by 4.3% in 2004, and natural gas consumption was up by 3.3%, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2005. The report, issued Tuesday, said gas use last year was above the 10-year average of 2.6% growth, but all of the increase was outside North America.

According to BP, worldwide gas consumption worldwide continues to steadily increase, but high prices and mild weather kept North American gas use flat from 2003. Outside North America, gas consumption rose by 4.3%.

BP chief economist Peter Davies said energy demand in all areas grew at a rapid rate in 2004. “In volume terms, this is the largest-ever annual increase in global primary energy consumption and is the highest percentage growth since 1984,” said Davies. “It is exceptional that this demand growth was so geographically widespread.”

Natural gas pipeline shipments worldwide were up 10% in 2004, the report said. Shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose by 5.4%, although that was below the 2003 growth rate. U.S. LNG imports climbed 29%, compared with Japanese imports that declined by 3.5% as nuclear plants returned to operation following shutdowns in 2003.

Gas prices also rose. The average Henry Hub gas price increased to $5.85/MMBtu. “Although this was also a record money-of-the-day annual average, the 3.9% rise over 2003 was far less marked than the rise in the oil price,” the report noted. It added that gas prices in other regions grew more rapidly.

Published annually by BP, the review contains data series on production and consumption of energy worldwide, up to the end of 2004.

The fastest growing regions for gas use worldwide, South and Central America, saw consumption rise 11.4% last year over 2003. In the Middle East, gas consumption was up 7.2% last year, while in the Asia Pacific region, consumption was up by 6%. In Europe and Eurasia, consumption was up 3.1%, while in Africa gas use grew 2.9%.

Including all forms of energy, growth in demand from China was “exceptional,” according to BP, while the “strength of demand growth was a global phenomenon.” China’s economy grew 9.5% in 2004, but this was outstripped by the rise in Chinese energy demand — up 15.1% over 2003. BP estimated that over the past three years Chinese energy demand has risen by 65%, accounting for more than half the increase in global demand over the period. China now consumes 13.6% of the world’s total energy.

Davies said the events that created strong energy growth in 2004 may not continue through this year.

“The key is whether economic growth can remain at 2004 levels,” Davies said. “It’s already evident that the positive combination of forces in 2004 is not continuing with the same momentum through 2005. Economic growth at a global level has already slowed and [it] is highly probable that 2005 energy consumption will be lower than that in 2004.”

The BP report is available on the company’s website at The website provides the data contained in the printed edition plus additional historical data, tables and topics and tools to assist analysis.

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