Sharp rise in crude oil production in the USA.
In December 2018, the OPEC and Russia agreed to jointly reduce crude oil production to put a downward pressure on oil prices and limit the global glut. Under this OPEC+ agreement (as of January 2019, extended and strengthened in 2020), crude oil production declined by 4.9% in Saudi Arabia and stabilised in Russia (+0.8%), whereas Nigeria kept on raising its production (+4.8%).
International prices steadied but remained below their 2018 levels (-10% for the Brent, at US$64/bbl), as crude oil production in the USA set a new record (+11%) thanks to a boom in non-conventional output (mainly in the Permian region) and new projects coming online. This surge in US oil production widened the gap with Saudi Arabia, with the US producing 37% more oil than Saudi Arabia in 2019.
The Middle East experienced an overall decline (-6.1%), due to rising regional tensions, culminating in a drone attack in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iran, where oil production fell by 34%. Similarly, oil production in Latin America dipped (-5.2%), due to political issues including the US sanctions in Venezuela (-32%) and the continuous decline in Mexico’s output (-7%), and despite a 7% growth in oil production in Brazil (surging pre-salt production).
South Korea’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions declined by 7.3% in 2020 to 649 MtCO2eq (i.e. -10.9% compared with the 2018 peak of 729 MtCO2eq). GHG emissions have been driven down by South Korea's energy and industrial sectors (-7.8% and -7.1%, respectively). In the power sector, total emissions decreased by 12.4% due to temporary shutdowns of coal-fired power plants resulting in lower coal-fired power generation and due to an increased renewable power generation. Emissions from the transport sector (included in the energy sector) contracted by 4.1%, owing to reduced travel (COVID-19-related restrictions) and the continuous deployment of low-emission vehicles. Residential emissions grew by only 0.3%, while emissions from business and public sectors fell by 9.9%. In the industrial sector (-7.1%), the reduced activity affected the energy-intensive branches such as chemicals (7.6% drop in GHG emissions), steel (-2.5%) and cement (-8.9%).
Due to the drop in emissions, the South Korean emission trading scheme (ETS) is over-supplied, and the authorities set a temporary price floor for allowances, as the price fell below the government's minimum threshold. However, the average price for allowances increased from KRW29,500/tCO2 (US$25.2/tCO2) in 2019 to KRW30,200/tCO2 (US$25.4/tCO2) in 2020.
Australia's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions dipped by 5% in 2020 (-26.1 MtCO2eq) to 499 MtCO2eq, according to the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. GHG emissions from the power sector declined by 4.9% but still accounted for a third of total GHG emissions in Australia. In addition, fugitive emissions (10% of total GHG emissions in 2020) declined by 8.8%, partly due to a lower coal production, and emissions from transport (18% of total GHG emissions in 2020) contracted by 12.1%, because of COVID-19 restrictions. In 2020, Australia's GHG emissions stood 20.1% below their 2005 level (the baseline year for the Paris Agreement). The country has committed to reduce its emissions by 26-28% by 2030 from 2005 levels.
The share of renewables in the Dutch gross final energy consumption rose from 8.8% in 2019 to 11.1% in 2020, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Most of the renewable consumption was biomass (6% of final energy consumption), followed by wind (2.5%), solar (1.5%) and others (1%).
Energy-related CO2 emissions in the European Union contracted by 10% in 2020, as a result of COVID-19 containment measures that had a significant impact on transport and industrial activities. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion decreased in all countries, with the largest contractions in Greece (-19%), Estonia, Luxembourg (-18% each), Spain (-16%) and Denmark (-15%). They fell by around 9% in Germany (25% of EU's total energy-related CO2 emissions), and by around 11% in Italy (12% of total emissions) and France (11% of total emissions). Emissions cuts were limited in Malta (-1%), Hungary (-1.7%), Ireland and Lithuania (both -2.6%).