Petroleum products are used for many different purposes. They are used as fuel for transport, in the home for heating, cooking and other daily requirements, in industry, in the public works sector, in the petrochemical industry, in agriculture… More than half the oil consumed in the world is used for transport. Furthermore, the worldwide consumption in this sector is continually rising, increasing from 42% of the share of world oil consumption in 1973 to nearly 58% in 2004.

The use of oil for generating electricity has fallen considerably in recent years. According to Key World Energy Statistics 2006 Edition, in 1973, oil represented nearly 25% of the fuel used to generate electricity. By 2004 this figure had dropped to under 7%.

Today, petroleum products are only one source of energy amongst many others. In 1973, oil represented some 45% of the total primary energy supply, in comparison to 34% in 2004. Meanwhile, other more “noble“ uses of oil are developing.