Special Report

26 Countries That Consume More Energy Than They Produce

Every day, commonplace activities that many of us take for granted, such as turning on a light switch or driving to work, consume energy. While an individual’s energy consumption is relatively insignificant, cumulative personal energy consumption, in conjunction with the requirements of the commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors, creates tremendous demand for energy — and meeting that demand is no small task for any country.

Energy independence — not needing to rely on trade to meet domestic demand — is a major priority for most countries because of its consequences for national security, economic sovereignty, and domestic energy prices.

At the same time, because of such factors as infrastructure differences, established trade networks, the quality of natural resources, and the seasonality of energy demand, energy independent countries like the United States are still very active in international energy trade.

For example, while the energy the United States produces exceeds what it consumes, countries like Canada and Mexico both buy and sell oil to the U.S. The U.S. also buys petroleum from the Middle East, for example, and sells oil to the U.K. and Japan.

As an energy independent nation, the U.S. is able to manage these trade partnerships with more leverage.   The same, however, cannot be said for many other countries.

Using 2019 energy production and consumption data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the countries that consume more energy than they produce. Countries on this list are ranked by how much more energy they use relative to what they produce based on figures from the Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2020 by Enerdata, an energy consulting company. We also considered supplemental data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and BACI, an international trade database. 

Fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas accounted for nearly 80% of global energy production in 2019. Though there are some exceptions, most countries on this list depend on trade to meet energy demand because they lack natural resources like oil. Excluding China, no country on this list has more proved oil reserves than Mexico, with an estimated 5.8 billion barrels. For context, the U.S. has the equivalent 68.9 billion barrels in proved reserves. Here is a look at the 15 countries that control the world’s oil.  

To overcome a lack of natural resources, countries rely on a mix of energy sources to generate electricity, including nuclear power and power from renewable sources, like wind, solar, and hydro. Still, these sources are generally insufficient to meet energy demand for transportation and industry. Here is a look at the states producing the most renewable energy

Click here to see 26 countries that consume more energy than they produce.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.