China and “Our Oil”

Have you noticed the new fashion for China Bashing If you haven’t, be assured that the drums are beating. The underlying story here is, as always, complex, though it sure seems to have a lot of do with US dreams of a new cold war, and even of Containing China. Or, if you indulge in the coarser varieties of business journalism, it’s the story of China (and India) taking “our oil.”

In this context, check out the Energy Information Administration’s reference projections for future oil consumption. Click here for the PDF or, if you have Excel installed, here. The numbers are pretty amusing. For one thing they show total global oil consumption rising from 78.2 million barrels a day in 2002 to 119.2 million barrels a day in 2025, which, by the way, is not going to happen. But they also show that increased US consumption in that brief period will be 7.6 million barrels a day, while China’s will be 9.

Think about that in per-capita terms and you’ll get the joke.