IHS CERA Says Peak Oil Won’t Happen Until 2030
The debate over peak oil rages on. The New York Times’ Green Inc. blog discussed Tuesday the latest report from IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm with a historically optimistic view of oil resources. According to the report, released this week, the firm predicts that oil supplies will be on the rise over the next two decades, then plateau and remain flat for a couple more decades after that. More specifically, CERA shows how oil supplies will reach 115 million barrels per day (bpd) around 2030, up from today’s rate of 92 million bpd.
IHS analysts put together their forecast based on production data obtained from more than 450 fields around the world, including both OPEC nations and companies slated to tap into new resources. Their conclusions are based on three main findings:
1) The average rate of decline is far less than many pessimists assume,
around 4.5 percent
2) 60 percent of the world’s oil comes from 550 “so-called giant oil fields,”
which are in no danger of suddenly drying up
3) The world’s oil endowment, or how much oil there is in the world, is far
bigger than peak oil theorists allow for
But perhaps the most crucial finding of the whole report is that future oil production will be driven by the “above ground elements of the equation.”
“Looking ahead, we can see that the upstream industry faces many challenges,” said Peter Jackson, the study’s main author. “The longer-term problem lies not below ground, but in obtaining the investment and resources that the industry will need to grow supply significantly from current levels.”
What this basically means is that the supply of oil itself is not going to dry up and disappear, but rather that oil production will be hampered by geopolitical constraints. Future problems in the oil world will stem from limited opportunities to invest in new supply, limited access to the necessary technology to reach said supply, and political tug-of-wars. In other words, it may be in the ground, but it may not be practical to obtain. It’s the idea of “practical peak oil.”
As HeatingOil.com has reported frequently over the last month, opinions on peak oil are all over the place. 70 percent of geologists at the Petroleum Geology Conference recently said peak oil was still a cause for concern, while veteran commodities trader and analyst Stephen Schork thinks it’s a political phenomenon, much like CERA. The International Energy Agency says peak oil won’t happen for a good long time, but have also been accused recently of inflating their numbers.
So what’s the real scoop? Sadly, even if there is enough oil in the ground, some of it might very well be impossible to get to without an obscene amount of money or cost to people and the environment. We likely have more than a few minutes before severe oil shortages are a reality, but it seems like developing alternative forms of energy would be in everyone’s best interest.