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Exxon expects fall in gasoline demand

By Associated Press
January 28, 2011

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NEW YORK — There will be 400 million more cars on the world’s roads 20 years from now, yet gasoline consumption will decline, according to a projection from Exxon Mobil Corp. in its long-term energy outlook released yesterday,

The world’s biggest investor-owned oil and gas company expects energy use overall will grow 35 percent by 2030, But that growth would be three times higher if people used as much energy per capita as they do now.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in projections of gasoline demand. People in developing countries, especially China, will drive millions of more cars and gas demand will grow, but the cars will be more efficient than those of the past.

Meanwhile, improvements in fuel efficiency in the United States and Europe will create a drop in demand that more than matches Asia’s growth. Demand for passenger vehicles will decline by 20 percent in the United States and by one-third in Europe by 2030.

Exxon’s long-term energy analysis, updated and released to the public every year, paints a picture of what Bill Colton, a vice president, called a “tale of two worlds.’’

In developed countries like the United States, Japan, and the nations of Europe, demand for energy will stay flat even as economic activity increases by 60 percent. In developing countries like China, India, and Brazil, demand for energy will rise more than 70 percent as more and more people gain access to electricity and transportation.

Exxon’s annual analysis differs from similar projections done by the Energy Information Administration in that it incorporates expected policy changes in its forecasts.

“The degree of analysis that goes into their projections is as rigorous as you get from any other institution,’’ says Lawrence Eagles, an analyst at JPMorgan, of the Exxon report. “It provides a good framework to look into the future.’’