The below maps show how Asia is taking over the oil markets.




Here's how much petroleum different regions used back in 1980, when the whole world burned about 63.1 million barrels a day of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heating oil and other products: 
World Petroleum Consumption By Region in 1980 (See Left)

The picture looks very different in 2012 — a year in which the world burned a record high 88.9 million barrels of petroleum per day:
World Petroleum Consumption By Region in 2012 (See Left)

Note that petroleum consumption in Europe has actually declined over the decades, a trend the EIA attributes to the continent's energy-efficiency policies, as well as the euro zone's recent economic stagnation. The countries that were part of the Soviet Union also saw a sharp downtick after the collapse of communism.

Meanwhile, North America's fuel use has grown only modestly since 1980 and has actually declined in recent years, due to stricter fuel-economy standards. Here's EIA: "Motor gasoline consumption, which makes up almost half of total U.S. liquids fuel consumption, fell by 290,000 bbl/d between 2010 and 2012 as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards led to improvements in vehicle fuel economy that outpaced highway travel growth."

But the real story, of course, has been in Asia, which has nearly tripled its fuel consumption since 1980, driven largely by stunning growth in China and India. "If China's use of petroleum continues to grow as projected," EIA notes, "it is expected to replace the United States as the world's largest net oil importer this fall." (The rapid growth in Middle East consumption, where burning oil for electricity is common, is another important and little-noticed story.)

The world is now using a record amount of oil even though Europe and the United States are paring back. And even as companies are finding new sources of crude in the deep ocean, tar sands and shale rock, they're struggling to keep up and global crude prices are much, much higher than they were during the 1980s and 1990s.