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Page added on October 9, 2018

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Forget cars, plastics could soon become the ‘single most important driver’ of oil demand

Huge potential for bioenergy to grow: International Energy Agency

Huge potential for bioenergy to grow: IEA  

Petrochemical products like plastics will become the most prominent driver of oil demand over the coming years, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) told CNBC Monday.

“When we discuss oil demand, peak oil demand (and) oil market dynamics, the focus is solely on cars — which is completely wrong,” Fatih Birol, executive director at the IEA, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” Monday.

“When we look at the next 10 to 15 years, the single most important driver of global oil demand growth is petrochemicals,” Birol said.

In a report published late last week, the IEA said it expects robust growth in emerging economies — such as India and China — to propel demand for plastics and other petrochemical products.

Meanwhile, oil demand for transport is projected to slow by 2050 because of the meteoric rise of electric vehicles and more efficient combustion engines, the IEA said.

The Paris-based agency added this would then be offset by rising demand in petrochemicals.

Explosive demand

Petrochemicals that are derived from oil and gas feed-stocks form the building blocks for products that range from plastic bottles and beauty products to fertilizers and explosives.

Oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell both plan to invest in new petrochemical plants over the coming decades, betting on the explosive demand for plastics in emerging economies.

“Of course the measures to make (petrochemicals) sustainable can dent this growth but we have no doubt whatsoever that petrochemicals will be the single most important driver of oil demand for many years to come,” Birol added.

 sezer66 | Getty Images

The IEA’s forecast comes despite government efforts to dramatically reduce pollution and carbon emissions from oil and gas in recent years.

The mass use of plastics in countries across the world has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, as waste makes its way into the oceans where it harms marine life. Several nations have since acted to ban, partly ban or tax single-use plastic bags.


25 Comments on "Forget cars, plastics could soon become the ‘single most important driver’ of oil demand"

  1. onlooker on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 5:48 pm 

    Seriously? Have we no limit to how much we wish to pollute and scar our planet

  2. Mark Ziegler on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 7:00 pm 

    Right now the packaging of food products is made of thick plastic bottles, and retail items wastefully made with thick throw away plastic packaging. You will know when they start skimping on packaging that there may be a recourse problem.

  3. Dredd on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 7:14 pm 

    Oilah Akbar is the greatest driver of oil demand.

    “just 100 companies have been responsible for 71 percent of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.” (Fossil Fuels Are a Threat to Civilization, New U.N. Report Concludes)

  4. The last drop on Wed, 10th Oct 2018 8:07 am 

    Oh, forgive me. Thought asphalt and tar for road building so cars was the driving force for oil demand. Bunch of BS here….without movement there is NO economy.
    In medieval times not much more demand further than the field and dung heap.
    Those good old days will return soon enough…
    Just like Shortonoil.

  5. Anontarded1 on Wed, 10th Oct 2018 9:33 am 

    roads and bridges are not a problem. when there is less traffic they last longer.

    sure there will be damages due to water and other natural factors and they take energy to repair but i don’t think they’re a major factor

  6. Richard Guenette on Wed, 10th Oct 2018 11:43 am 

    Greed/overconsumption is the problem, not people. Humanity is its own worst enemy: they are turning our only home (Earth) into an uninhabitable place. Nature is the only one which will stop us from further destroying the planet.

  7. dave thompson on Thu, 11th Oct 2018 3:57 am 

    Hey Richard G. “Greed/overconsumption is the problem, not people. Humanity is its own worst enemy: they are turning our only home (Earth) into an uninhabitable place. Nature is the only one which will stop us from further destroying the planet.”

    I have to change that “they” to “we”.

  8. longpig on Thu, 11th Oct 2018 4:27 am 

    Plastic growth is growing in the developing countries where all the people just litter and throw rubbish into the rivers and oceans. From what I read India and China are responsible for 80% of it.

  9. makati1 on Thu, 11th Oct 2018 4:47 am 

    long, what is the excuse for the trash on America’s shores and in the Gulf? China/India?

    Haver you ever watched the machines cleaning the American beaches every morning? I have.

    “Gulf of Mexico loaded with one of world’s highest concentrations of plastic; here’s why”

    Hypocrite Americans!

  10. Davy on Thu, 11th Oct 2018 6:17 am 

    “long, what is the excuse for the trash on America’s shores and in the Gulf? China/India?”

    LOL, billy does not understand how the ocean current act so he doesn’t realize the Caribbean, Central, and South America influence trash on America’s shores. The trash also comes over from Africa. The US is a big source of pollution like his article shows but the US is making efforts to stop it. We have one of the best waste disposal systems in the world. In Asia the rivers and oceans are the landfills.

  11. baha on Thu, 11th Oct 2018 6:55 am 

    Leave it to the oil industry to double down on stupidity. This whole article is pie in the sky. This will not happen. The public is catching on to the fact that plastic is poison.

    Enjoy your dreams while we put you aside.

  12. Anontarded1 on Thu, 11th Oct 2018 7:04 am 

    guys where is the aswange when putin’s rocket is exploding? is it “muh putin” or not “muh putin”.

    personally i think it’s the lack of supertards so it’s neither.

  13. Dredd on Thu, 11th Oct 2018 9:44 am 

    Whoopie dooooo (Plastic Continents).

  14. longpig on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 4:33 pm 


    Over the last decade we have become increasingly alarmed at the amount of plastic in our oceans.

    More than 8 million tons of it ends up in the ocean every year. If we continue to pollute at this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

    But where does all this plastic waste come from?

    Most of it is washed into the ocean by rivers. And 90% of it comes from just 10 of them, according to a study.

    Rivers of plastic

    By analyzing the waste found in the rivers and surrounding landscape, researchers were able to estimate that just 10 river systems carry 90% of the plastic that ends up in the ocean.

    Eight of them are in Asia: the Yangtze; Indus; Yellow; Hai He; Ganges; Pearl; Amur; Mekong; and two in Africa – the Nile and the Niger.

  15. Richard Guenette on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 4:55 pm 

    Plastics should be banned in all countries.

  16. Antius on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 5:35 pm 

    “Plastics should be banned in all countries.”

    Maybe a less extreme idea would be to agree on a few ground rules in the design of products and packaging that allow plastics to be reused or recycled. Maybe a global sustainable products initiative. I have plastic items that have been with me for years. Yet, every week I find my recycling bin full of plastic packaging. Very little of it is truly necessary.

    We need fewer short turnover items and more high value products with long lifespans.

  17. Davy on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 5:53 pm 

    “Plastics should be banned in all countries”

    right antius, the above comment is about as stupid as they come. It’s like saying let’s ban oil. People like richard don’t understand consequences.

  18. Anonymouse1 on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 6:21 pm 

    Your comments are about as stupid as they come. You should banned from ever stinking up this comment area with your exceptionalturd nonsense ever again. Lumps like the dumbass don’t understand reality.

  19. Davy on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 6:33 pm 

    a-noise1 face it your comments are rare, generally you just stalk and prick Americans. We need intelligent people here not snivelling kids with bad attitudes. You even have bad humor on top of it. You are a complete failure.

  20. makati1 on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 6:42 pm 

    Only in America will you buy something wrapped by the piece and then wrapped in a bag at the factory, and then a plastic bag to take it home in. When I was a kid, everything was wrapped in paper, and taken home in paper bags. Maybe we need to get back to that?

    Plastic bags are now outlawed in many places here in the Ps. Especially the ones used to carry stuff home. You bring a reusable bag or they will give you a paper bag, which is recyclable. Or a box that they got items in from the suppliers. Also the foam takeout boxes have been replaced with cardboard ones.

  21. makati1 on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 6:56 pm 

    longpig, and those rivers are used by some 3,000,000,000+ people. Multiply the waste of the US by 9 times and put it in perspective.

    258,000,000 TONS X 9 = ~2,300,000,000,000 TONS (2016 US solid waste)

    The US produces the most waste per capita of any country in the world. About 5 pounds per day, per person. Only a small fraction is recycled.

    Perspective, always perspective.

  22. longpig on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 7:16 pm 

    makati1 you are a 3rd world apologist. The issue is not the level of plastic consumption, it’s the amount going into the waterways and oceans that is damaging the environment. In the USA very little plastic makes it’s way into the oceans compared to other countries because they invest in responsible waste management, 3rd world won’t do anything like that as it’s easier and cheaper to simply wash away rubbish with water.

  23. makati1 on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 7:31 pm 

    longpig, you are soon going to join the 3rd world. Are you prepared for that event? Some say it will be even worse in the US after the crash.

    The US is the w3orld’s biggest polluter and all of your denials does not change that fact. Do you want me to post the refs that point it out? How much waste do YOU produce everyday? Think about it.

    Americans never look in a mirror. They prefer to try to point a finger at someone else. A warmongering, plundering, hypocritical people that will never survive what is coming. Asia will.

  24. DerHundistLos on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 9:21 pm 


    Come on. You are not addressing the subject. Longpig is absolutely correct in that 90% of the world’s massive plastic ocean pollution comes from just 10 rivers of which 8 of the 10 are Asian and the other 2 are African.

    This is an incontrovertible fact.

  25. makati1 on Fri, 12th Oct 2018 9:53 pm 

    Der, and that is a small part of the total pollution in the world. How do you explain the 5 pounds per person, per day, in the US as anything but excessive pollution? The ocean plastic comes from many sources, including shipping, and cruise liners.

    Yes, a lot comes from plastic blowing into the streams and rivers, but you are ignoring the big one in the Gulf of Mexico that comes from US waste in the Mississippi.

    “The first survey of the amount and types of plastic in the gulf has found concentrations approaching the highest reported in world. It puts the waters off Louisiana on par with the Mediterranean and Black seas and the mouth of China’s heavily-polluted Yangtze River.”

    Finger pointing doesn’t work if the pointer is also guilty.

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