The BiPle has been published again. It's published every year about this time and is actually called the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. It's the Bible of energy data and it is obviously very relevant to our present circumstances with oil prices rocketing. There were two questions in particular I wanted to ask of last year's data, which is now available, and a rainy Saturday was a good day to construct the spreadsheets to do it. First question: how energy-efficient are we in Hong Kong compared to the rest of Asia and to the developed world? In other words, how much economic bang do we get for our energy buck? Do other countries get more? Do they get less? Second question: ignoring whether or not we are happy with the answer to the first question, is our energy efficiency improving or deteriorating? Are we getting more economic bang for our energy buck than we previously did or less? How do other Asian countries perform on this measure? Let's have some definitions. For the first question we shall define economic bang as nominal gross domestic product in US dollar terms at average exchange rates last year. For energy we shall use the BP numbers for primary energy in the equivalent of tonnes of oil. Primary energy comprises oil, coal, gas, nuclear and hydroelectricity. Note that we exclude thermal-generated electricity. It's already included in oil, coal, and gas. We also exclude wind, geothermal and solar energy. The BP figures do not yet incorporate them and, in any case, they do not account for much in our sample. We can now calculate how many thousand US dollars of GDP the countries in our sample generated for every oil/tonne of primary energy they burned last year. The bar chart shows you the answers. The first point to make is we in Hong Kong look good compared to the rest of Asia. We generated US$7,820 of GDP for every oil/tonne of primary energy consumed last year, second only behind Japan. Among the reasons for it are that we have efficient electricity generating plants with short distribution networks, very little heavy industry, much less car dependency than most economies of our wealth and stinging fuel prices for those who want to drive their own cars. The mainland comes in at the bottom of the rankings for Asia. One of the reasons for this may be that the yuan's US dollar exchange rate is still much too weak and we would get a better ratio if we gave the yuan its full purchasing power parity. Perhaps, but then again you only have to travel past one of those old coal smokers that pass for generating plants or see pictures of the 1950s technology still prevailing in some steel and heavy industry plants to know that China is still very energy-inefficient. And look at the ratios for European countries on the right side of the chart. They put all of Asia to shame. Even petrol-guzzling United States does much better than the Asian average. You may say again that this is largely a matter of exchange rates what with the euro as strong as it recently has been. You may also say that alternative energy has an increasing presence in Europe and it's not included here. You may say many such things but I believe that the fundamental driving force of the difference is that Europe does not subsidise energy use and most of Asia does. I really do think it's just that simple. And now to the second question. Have energy efficiency ratios improved in Asia? To measure this we take the real (inflation-adjusted) GDP for each country in that country's currency and then state the results of the comparison with energy use on an index basis where 1982 equals 100. These figures can then be aggregated to create regional indices. Up on the chart means getting better. Down means getting worse. We now have a surprise result. China, the most inefficient energy user in Asia, has also done the most to improve its energy efficiency over the last 25 years, although this has slowed over the past five years. Let's accept, however, that this is rough. The trend is probably correct but there are question marks hanging over a great deal of the data. The rest of Asia has shown very little change in energy efficiency, a bare 11 per cent improvement over 25 years, which isn't much. Hong Kong results are roughly in line with this regional trend but worse recently. We are exactly where we were in 1982 in energy efficiency. And there you have the BiPle. It is, as you know, infallible and free of error. Take that assertion as you will.