Global oil outlook: over a barrel
This crisis isn’t centuries away. The crunch point comes not when we have run all the oil wells dry, but when demand outstrips production - and a growing number of experts are warning that this is likely to happen within the next few years.
"There is a growing consensus that we are heading for an imminent peak in oil production, if not already past it,” Richard Hardman, trustee of the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre and a former president of the UK Geological Society, told the New Scientist magazine as far back as 2003.
In previous crises, new reserves always seem to have been found to make up the shortfall. But the declining rate at which new fi elds are being discovered suggests it won’t happen this time, at least not for conventional oil.
We now find just one barrel of oil for every four we consume.
And with production already declining in the US and the North Sea, the world must rely increasingly on the politically volatile Middle East and other parts of the developing world.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the world’s primary energy demand is projected to expand by 60% between 2002 and 2030. It is predicted that oil demand will grow in line with total energy demand.
To meet this demand, Opec would need to double its current production. This is highly unlikely, given that presently it is producing oil at or near maximum capacity, and reinvestment rates, as measured in terms of active drilling rigs, have not accelerated suffi ciently to grow production.
For the full story, get hold of Energy in Africa magazine on the shelves at the end of July.