Today, I used the equivalent of 4 litres of oil. I know this, because I’m a typical European citizen – and that’s what typical Europeans do. My house – like half of those on the continent, more than 200 million people– is reliably heated by natural gas. Just like my fellow Parisians this week, I tend to take for granted the warmth entering my house while its freezing outside. And I also rely on oil & gas for driving, flying, bringing in the food and clothes I buy, but also for my electricity and a very broad range of products and services I use on a daily basis without even thinking about it (Click the link for more information about how we use oil and gas in our everyday life).
Oil & gas actually form the foundation of my enviable “Western way of life”. Citizens of countries where less oil & gas are used do not, on average, enjoy the benefits I so often take for granted. Brazilians use around 2.3 litres of oil equivalent per day. In China, the per capita consumption figure is 1.4 litres; in India it’s 0.5.
Will me and my kids continue to use oil & gas at this rate? Probably not. And thanks to improving efficiencies and energy savings, we won’t have to. But the overall global demand is likely to remain high for decades to come, and even higher than it is today. So, it’s obvious that European oil & gas production should (and will) have a role to play in my energy future. It provides local skilled jobs and generates taxes and income for EU governments (which we all benefit from) while supplying part of our domestic needs. It reduces the import dependency of the EU, it keeps money within the economy that otherwise would be sent and invested abroad. Indigenous oil & gas production also strengthen national and regional bargaining positions in determining the costs of remaining imports – and so help to keep consumer prices in check.
That’s usually the time when you’ll ask me: but what about climate change? Well the first point is that Europe being a major oil & gas consumer bloc, it makes sense to produce this oil & gas within the region. Importing from further away – via ships or pipelines – just like with any other product, requires additional energy and increases associated CO2 emissions even before the product can reach the consumer. In recent years, people realized that if they cared about the environment and local jobs, they need to buy locally as much as possible. The same logic should apply to my use of oil & gas!
“Is that all it would take?” you might then ask. Well, not quite. There’s another strong climate argument for European oil & gas production. According to recent data from IOGP, producing one tonne of hydrocarbons in Europe emits one third less CO2 than if it was produced outside Europe. One ton of oil & gas from Europe emits 88 kg of CO2 compared to 136 kg when produced outside Europe. 1)
So for each ton of oil & gas produced in Europe we save 48kg CO2. That means oil & gas production from the EU and Norway (about 160 Mio tons oil and 210 Mio tons oil equivalent gas) save 18 million tons of CO2 each year. That’s the equivalent of removing 9 million European cars from the road!
That’s why oil & gas produced in Europe for Europe make sense for me, and it should make sense to my 500 million fellow Europeans, and to the climate.
- Numbers derived from IOGP’s Environmental performance indicators report (2016 data), where 36 members report their environmental data, covering 82% of the European and 27% of the global market.
About François-Régis Mouton
François-Régis is IOGP’s EU Affairs Director. Prior to joining the Association, he was Vice President for Oil & Gas Advocacy with Total. His career took him from reservoir engineering in Europe and Africa, to gas and power business development in the UK and Northern Europe, a senior advisory role in the World Bank’s Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership, and Total’s European Affairs activities in Brussels.