Europe, during the 2000-10 period, imported an average of $182 billion worth of oil per year. That level reached $488 billion by 2011 and is on pace to pass $500 billion this year, more than the $370 billion debt tabulated by the Greek government, the International Energy Agency states.
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said the declining value of the euro compared to the U.S. dollar offset most of the drop in crude oil prices.
Van der Hoeven said oil prices were still at "worrying high levels."
"Prices at these levels are forcing households to either cut back on spending on other items or to increase their debt; they are also undermining the profitability of companies that are unable to pass on fully higher input costs," she said in an address in Paris.
The IEA during the height of the Libyan conflict last year called on its member states to release oil from their strategic reserves. War had stopped most of the oil production from Libya, causing oil prices to spike and threatening to send the global economy back into recession.
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