Is the world running out of oil?
Although the world will not run out of oil tomorrow, the world is nearing the end of what might be called the easy oil. Even in the best of circumstances, the oil that still remains will be more costly to find and produce and less dependable than the oil being used today. This fact means not only higher prices, but also more volatile prices. This will make it difficult to see how rapidly oil supplies are being depleted, and even more difficult to know when the world would need to start looking for a new energy regime.
When does oil production peak? In theory, the production of oil reaches a peak when half the original supply has been pumped from the ground. This holds true for a single well or the collective behaviour of all oil wells on the planet. With half the supply consumed, it simply gets more difficult and harder to maintain the same levels of production.
Oil is a finite substance, and at some point, all the oil being discovered around the world will no longer replace the oil that has been produced, and global production will peak. The term "peak" suggests a neat curve with production rise slowly to the halfway point, then tapering off gradually to zero. As the worlds approach the peak in production, soaring prices -- seventy, eighty or even a hundred dollars a barrel -- will encourage oil companies and oil states to scour the planet for oil. Oil companies and oil states will find it harder and harder to maintain current production levels and hence keep up with rising consumption.