Peak Oil is Still a Cause for Concern, Say 70% of Geologists at Summit
About 70% of 500 geologists surveyed at a plenary session during this year’s Petroleum Geology Conference in London said that peak oil is still a concern, according to an interview with geologist, social entrepreneur and author Jeremy Leggett posted Sunday on TheOilDrum.com. Even Leggett himself, who argued against the belief that peak oil is “no longer a concern” in a debate that preceded the vote, was surprised at their response, saying, “I thought I’d be lucky to get 10% of the vote.”
The survey results suggest that geologists and practicing scientists hold a different view of the peak oil issue than do executives at major oil companies, such as ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell, said Leggett. This difference of opinion makes what he termed the “forthcoming energy crunch” different from the period preceding the current global financial crisis. A “hall full of investment bankers would “no doubt” have supported the motion that “major downside risk in derivatives is no longer a concern,” Leggett said.
He added that valuable comparisons exist between the financial crunch and the energy crunch. Prior to the financial meltdown, only a few “maverick” economists and financial journalists were sounding off about the downside risks of derivatives. However, many people in the oil industry and companies in various petroleum-user industries, as well as the International Energy Agency, are concerned about peak oil production.
Unfortunately, few oil company researchers voice their own science-based opinions. Leggett said that an oil company geologist once told him that it is considered almost “an unspoken act of treason” to express doubt about the oil industry’s ability to meet projected demand.
In addition, oil companies have a financial interest in convincing people that the world has enough oil for years to come. Cultures, or industries, have many “dysfunctional” ways of protecting themselves, Leggett explained. In the case of oil companies, this could mean overstating oil production.
The winner in the peak oil debate will be crowned before the decade is out, and sooner rather than later, said Leggett. He described his preferred scenario as the widespread use of clean energy technologies, with the world enjoying a “renaissance built around the many social value adders inherent in these technologies.” This includes the end of so-called oil shocks and oil wars. As he put it, these and “all the other dismal paraphernalia of the hydrocarbon age” would seem very…twentieth century.