Oil output plateau before 2020 forecast
By Tara Patel
The CEO of French oil giant Total SA said Monday that world oil production will reach a plateau of 95 million barrels a day before 2020, placing a limit on growing energy demand.
"We will need a big, big effort" to reach this level, Christophe de Margerie said at a press conference in Paris where he discussed Total's forecast.
Total said that when biofuels and processes such as turning coal into liquid are added to its forecast for crude output, energy supply is seen reaching a plateau at 100 million barrels a day before 2020.
"This plateau is ambitious and will be difficult to reach," said Jean-Jacques Mosconi, Total's director of strategy and economic intelligence.
The company's forecasts are "on the conservative side" of those put forward last year as an alternative scenario by the Paris-based International Energy Agency, de Margerie said. The IEA will publish in November its annual World Energy Outlook in which it plans to reduce its long-term projection for crude oil supply after studying depletion rates at the world's 400 largest fields.
Total's calculation of world hydrocarbon reserves that have not yet been found are in even starker contrast with the IEA, de Margerie said. The company
puts the figure at 200 billion barrels, a third of the IEA's calculations.
Reaching the production level of 95 million barrels a day before 2020 will depend on raising output in countries where future production is clouded by political and security uncertainties in nations such as Iraq, Iran and Nigeria, Total executives said.
"It will present a real problem if we can't rely on these countries," de Margerie said. "If oil companies left Nigeria it would be like a bomb," he said, referring to concerns about oil worker safety.
Total's production forecast includes a doubling of output in Nigeria to 4 million barrels a day and in Venezuela to 5 million barrels a day, Mosconi said. Output in Iraq will have to nearly quadruple to 8 million barrels a day by 2030, he said.
Safety concerns are making a move by Total into Iraq "impossible," de Margerie said.
Reaching 100 million barrels a day "will depend on producing in places that don't exist now," de Margerie said. These include the Canadian oil sands where environmental concerns are delaying projects, he said.
"Reaching this production level is technically possible provided everyone takes responsibility," de Margerie said, referring to environmental reviews in Canada that are leading to delays in northern Alberta.
Mosconi pressed for debate on an oil plateau, citing declining output in regions including the North Sea, uncertainty in countries like Nigeria and the "political will" to cap output in other places like Saudi Arabia.