The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, "hmm.... that's funny...." Isaac Asimov

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fuel Cost as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); Update

This is an update of a chart I've posted previously showing fuel expenditures as percent of GDP. That percentage crept up again in 2011.

The contribution of natural gas is smaller due to much lower prices; almost certainly the result of new production from the shale plays.

Coal is still relatively cheap, although its cost has been rising steadily from $19 per ton to over $32/ton today.*

On an energy basis, coal and natural gas are now close; coal costs about $1.70 per million Btu and natural gas is currently priced at about $2.50 per million Btu. Nuclear fuel is still so cheap compared to the fossil fuels that its contribution would not show in the chart.

As has been the case since 2005 when its global production levelled off (see my previous post), petroleum's cost is relatively high. Now at over $100 a barrel, it costs abut $18 per million Btu. But our industrial economy is geared in ways that seem to resemble addiction to oil, and its contribution to the overall percentage of GDP spent of fuels grew in 2011.

* Data from USDOE/EIA, 2005 dollars, F.O.B. rail/barge price at point of first sale

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