La soif de pétrole de l'Amérique

Les États-Unis consomment un quart du pétrole mondial, la Chine 8%. Malgré la croissance chinoise prévue pour les prochaines années, le monde ne va pas manquer de pétrole à court terme. Les réserves se montent à plus d'un billion de barils, et on en trouvera sans doute encore davantage. Mais les deux tiers de ces réserves, dont l'existence est avérée, se trouvent dans le Golfe persique et sont donc soumis à de possibles perturbations.

Dans le passé, l'augmentation des prix a eu de grandes répercussions sur la consommation de pétrole des États-Unis. Depuis les pics tarifaires des années 1970, la consommation américaine de pétrole par dollar de PIB a diminué de moitié, ce qui reflète aussi le déplacement général des productions industrielles vers des secteurs moins intensifs en termes d'énergie. Après tout, il faut beaucoup moins d'énergie pour créer un logiciel que pour produire une tonne d'acier.

Au début des années 1980, les coûts d'énergie représentaient 14% de l'économie américaine. Aujourd'hui ils sont descendus à 7%. Corrigé de l'inflation, le prix du pétrole devrait atteindre 80 $US par baril (ou 3,12 $US par gallon d'essence) pour atteindre le niveau enregistré en mars 1981.

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