Home to one third of the world's population, China and India are essential factors in the interplay of forces that has driven global oil prices to their current highs.
The two Asian giants seem on a path of rapid economic growth that could last for decades, making it all but inevitable that their already sizeable impact on international energy markets will grow even bigger in years to come.
It all comes down to huge population numbers. The average Chinese consumes about one-tenth the energy of his US counterpart, but with 1.3 billion people, that adds up to a major factor in global demand.
China consumes 6.5 million barrels of oil every day, or 8 percent of world consumption.
It is forced to import more than 40 percent, and as a result it has been moving global demand together with the US for the past few years.
Similarly, India currently consumes 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, having to import close to 70 percent.
While the current figures cause concern in energy planning departments, it is the projections for the future that are triggering genuine alarm.
By 2030, China could wind up consuming 15 million barrels of oil a day, or the equivalent of the current US imports, according to a projection by the European Commission in 2003.
China already seems to be headed in that direction, having accounted for 40 percent of the global increase in oil demand over the past four years.
Facing this scenario, China has embarked on a 15-year program to bring about more diversified and less wasteful energy production, combined with a greater emphasis on nuclear and renewable energy.
Indians tend to downplay the impact they have on global demand, pointing out that the 2.5 million barrels of oil it consumes every day must be seen against global consumption of 84 million barrels.
"That's less than three percent," said Sarthak Behuria, president of Indian Oil Corp.
Some experts tend to agree, warning against exaggerating the role of the Asian economies in the current explosion of energy prices.
"They are not currently the decisive factor," said Alain Sepulchre, a researcher at the Hong Kong-based French Center for Research on Contemporary China.
"It's got much more to do with the risk of war in the Middle East, and the problems in Venezuela and Nigeria," he said.
Sanjeet Kumar Singh, vice-president of Indian investment bank ICICI Securities, argued that the spurt in oil prices in the last two to three years was to a large extent the result of the global economic boom.
Over the next decade the two Asian economies would exert greater influence on prices, but "as of now I don't think the effect is there," he said.
According to Sepulchre demand is bound to rise with the rise in the number of cars owned by Chinese and Indians.
Bruno Weymuller, the executive vice president of oil company Total, struck a similar note while visiting Beijing late last month.
Without wanting to sound alarmist, he said, there was nevertheless "a danger of a never-ending increase in consumption."