Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are the cornerstone of our industrialized modern world. Some 70 percent of the global final energy consumption still comes from resources such as crude oil, natural gas, and coal. Fossil fuels originate from dead plant and animal matter decomposed anaerobically over millions of years under heat and pressure. Due to the timespan needed for each fuel type to be formed they are deemed non-renewable.

Fossil fuel burning is a main contributor to global warming and thus climate change. As a result, many governments and institutions have introduced measures to reduce their use. Nevertheless, oil production remains at an all-time high, nearing the 100 million barrels per day mark.

Oil share in global fuel consumption
Global oil production
95.2m bbl/d
Forecasted fossil fuel consumption 2050
482 EJ

Market size

U.S. ascent to largest oil and gas producer
Oil production in the leading oil-producing countries worldwide in 2020* (in 1,000 barrels per day)
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Following the development of unconventional extraction methods, such as fracking, the U.S. has become the largest oil and natural gas producing country in the world. Historically, the OPEC has been the most important oil provider, with production cuts immediately impacting oil prices across the globe. Today, the consortium of mostly African and Eastern countries still accounts for 40 percent of global oil production.

Global oil industry
U.S. oil industry

Market segments

The oil throne
Daily demand for crude oil worldwide from 2006 to 2020, with a forecast until 2026* (in million barrels per day)
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Oil is arguably the most versatile fossil fuel. Used primarily as a feedstock for transportation fuels and within the petrochemical industry, oil demand is hugely indicative of overall economic performance. 2020 was the first year since the 2009 recession that demand decreased following the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, natural gas use has climbed to a peak in recent years, with many governments favoring its use in the power sector over more emission intensive coal.

Global oil product demand outlook
Global natural gas industry
U.S. natural gas energy industry

Industry trends

Coal's role in the power sector
Leading hard coal producing countries worldwide in 2018 (in million metric tons)
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Although historically a major contributor to the economy, the role of the coal mining industry has declined notably. In the United Kingdom where the mass mining of coal fueled the Industrial Revolution, the number of active coal mines has fallen to an all-time low. But whereas many governments are saying their goodbyes to the heavily polluting industry sector, developing countries are utilizing its comparatively cheap conversion rate to feed their growing power demand.

Global coal energy industry
Coal energy industry in Indonesia

Industry leaders

Pioneers and state-owned super giants
Leading oil and gas companies worldwide based on revenue as of 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)
Further details: Visit original statistic

The technological exploitation of fossil fuels was a crucial requirement for the Industrial Revolution. Some of today’s largest companies, such as ExxonMobil, are fossil fuel producers tracing their roots back to those times. ExxonMobil used to be the largest oil supermajor for many years before China’s ever-growing thirst for oil turned two state-owned enterprises into the world’s largest oil and gas companies – Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corporation.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. Report 2020
Royal Dutch Shell

Industry definition

The fossil fuel category provides statistics and reports on the upstream sector of the three major fuel types – crude oil, natural gas, and coal. Included are information on reserves and production in various countries, company data, and related rankings.


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