BP: US oil production sees biggest rise in 62 years

American oil production had a banner year in 2012, largely thanks to new drilling techniques that recover oil from shale rock formations. As world energy supplies grew, demand for energy moderated, thanks to Europe's recession and energy-saving efforts.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File
An oil derrick is seen at a fracking site for extracting oil outside of Williston, N.D. A surge in US oil production, the biggest in six decades, according to BP, is largely due to new drilling techniques that recover oil from shale rock formations across North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the country.

Already booming, US oil has set a new record: the biggest single-year increase in oil production since BP started keeping track 62 years ago.

Oil also gained elsewhere in the world, pushing global production up 2.2 percent in 2012, according to BP's annual report on global energy, released Wednesday. Demand for energy, meanwhile, grew at a more moderate pace than it did in 2011. 

“The data show there is ample energy available," Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, said in a statement. "Our challenge as an industry is to make the best choices about where to invest."

The surge in US production is largely due to new drilling techniques that recover oil from shale rock formations across North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the country. The hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling of shale also unlocks previously trapped troves of natural gas. US production of natural gas jumped 4.9 percent in 2012, according to BP.  

Meanwhile, growth in global energy consumption slowed to 1.8 percent in 2012, BP reported, down from 2.4 percent the previous year.

Much of the decline in demand is tied to a global economic slowdown, but the report also cites an improvement in efficiency measures by governments and private industry. That's doubly good news for energy. The world is getting smarter about finding resources and more efficient about using them. 

But emerging economies in India and in China are projected to demand increasing amounts of energy for years to come. Many are concerned that meeting future needs with today's heavy reliance on fossil fuels will have serious consequences for the planet. BP's report shows that while renewable production is growing, it's not exactly the 'green' revolution some have hoped for.

Coal consumption grew 2.5 percent, the largest spurt of demand of any fossil fuel worldwide, according to BP's report. China, which consumed the majority of the world's coal for the first time in 2012, is driving demand for the carbon-heavy fuel.

Meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011 contributed to the largest annual decline in world nuclear output in 2012. Production fell 6.9 percent after nuclear all but disappeared in Japan, and Germany pledged to close all its reactors by 2022. 

Renewable power generation grew by 15.2 percent across the globe in 2012, according to BP, but makes up only 2.4 percent of global consumption. Oil, by comparison, is the world's most popular source of fuel, making up 33.1 percent of global energy consumption.

Energy: The world has more energy resources than ever before and is smarter about using them.

Environment: Carbon-heavy fossil fuels continue to dominate the mix, posing the threat of pollution and climate change.

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