Crude oil supply is by no means the only element of energy supply security, but it is the most problematic for Asia because of the region’s limited endowment and how it compensates. In 2010, Asia imported nearly half of all crude oil traded on international markets. If crude oil demand grows as projected...
in Figure 2.1.3, developing Asia’s oil imports will expand dramatically (Figure 2.1.5). Taking into account Asian production, Asia’s oil imports are expected to almost triple from 11 million barrels per day (MMBD) to over 31 MMBD by 2035, growing annually by 4.2%. Control over Asia’s oil supply has steadily shifted toward Middle East suppliers. In 1990, 33% of developing Asia’s oil imports came from the Middle East; by 2010, this figure had risen by half to 48%. As this accelerating trend will likely continue, Asia’s high and growing dependence on a single region poses a risk to adequate and reliable energy supply.Disrupted flow of crude oil from the Middle East for an
extended period would hit Asia hard. Worse, Asia’s refineries are configured to process mostly light Middle Eastern crudes and, unlike refineries in other regions, cannot immediately handle very heavy crudes. If the Middle East tap closed, Asia would be poorly equipped to switch to heavy crudes available from elsewhere. Long-term oil security can be enhanced by substituting other fuels, but the short run lacks options. Asia uses oil largely for transportation (48% in 2010), which almost always requires readily portable energy. The convenience of liquid fuels for this purpose, the well-developed supply chain, and superior economics give petroleum products a huge advantage
over alternatives. Biofuels offer some potential as substitutes for oil products, but they are unlikely to be commercially competitive within the forecast horizon.
--- Source: Isaak, Park, and Lee, forthcoming.
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