Hong Kong, devoid of natural resources, has to import all the energy it consumes. Up to 1981, oil accounted for almost 100 per cent of the total primary energy requirement, of which about 59 per cent was used to generate electricity. Starting in 1982, the electricity sector switched to coal generation, leading to plummeting oil consumption. The conversion process was essentially completed by 1988. Local sales of oil products declined from 5.790 million kilolitres in 1981 to 3.470m kl in 1987, but climbed back to 5.157m kl in 1997: oil consumption stagnated between 1981 and 1997. This paper analyses the fluctuations in oil consumption during the period, covering use by the utility and non-utility sectors. Next, it deals with consumption of, and the factors involved in, the six major oil products, i.e. fuel oil, diesel, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, kerosene and jet fuel. Interestingly, bunker sales, including air and sea transport, rose noticeably during these years, partly offsetting the effect of slumping oil sales to the power plants and helping boost total oil demand in the 1990s. Lastly, a glimpse into the future of the Hong Kong oil market is taken.