Oil production and global GDP

According to the Saudi energy minister, the oil market is on the ‘right track’. In April OPEC will decide on its output policy for 2019. To get an impression of the importance of oil, and OPEC, I have combined the historic size of oil production and global GDP in the figure above.

The production of oil has not grown in tandem with global GDP. Global real GDP (constant 2010 prices) has about doubled since 1990. Oil production only went from 3 billion tonnes to almost 4 billion tonnes, for about a 50 percent increase. This is one of the places where we see decoupling in the economy: growth of GDP volume is much higher than the growth of production (and use) of oil. The next step would be to see less oil use, while GDP keeps growing.

For policymakers it means that the importance of oil is diminishing. Increasingly large parts of the global economy apparently can grow without similar increases in the use of oil. This does not make oil, or OPEC, irrelevant. But oil is not expected to play a role it for example played in the 1970s energy crisis.