Unless and until there is a far-reaching, viable, affordable and accessible-to-the-masses alternative fuel that can get us from point A to point B, the world is stuck with guzzling oil. And guzzle it we do! The answer to which country consumes the most might not be too surprising, considering the size of its economy and standard of living.
No big shocker, the United States consumes more oil than any other country -- specifically, 18.7 million barrels per day, according to 2009 estimates from the CIA World Factbook. The European Union collectively ranks as No. 2 on the list, with 13.7 million barrels per day. China, Japan and India occupy the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively, with 8.2 million, 4.4 million and 3.0 million barrels of oil per day, according to the CIA's report. Russia, Brazil, Germany, Saudi Arabia and South Korea respectively round out slots six through 10.
And, in case you're wondering, places such as the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and Equatorial Guinea make the smallest dent in the daily supply of oil. On the CIA's 2009 list, they gulp down only 1,000 barrels of oil per day. Such places just point up the global appetite for oil, still a crucial commodity and likely to be for some time to come.
It's so crucial, in fact, that the U.S. government maintains its own special, emergency, rainy-day stock of oil called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Even though the U.S. taps some, but not all, of its own natural oil reserves, it still relies heavily on foreign supplies. During the oil embargo of 1973 and 1974, the U.S. suffered greatly. To avoid a similar catastrophe in the future, the government set up the SPR, which normally holds enough domestic oil to last America about 60 days. The idea is that the oil -- stored in underground caverns along the Gulf of Mexico, the largest emergency petroleum supply in the world -- is only supposed to be released in response to great pressures on global oil supply.
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