Friday, September 16, 2005

When Will the World Start Running Out of Oil?

"VIENNA, Austria: Fact: The world will someday start running out of oil. Up for debate: When—in months, years, decades?

Despite rapidly growing demand, crude will be plentiful for at least another generation, according to top producer Saudi Arabia, major oil companies and others in the oil industry. But some experts argue that OPEC’s reserves are overstated, recovery technologies have serious limitations and the day that demand starts to outpace supply may soon be upon us.

Most bearish is Princeton professor, geologist and oil maverick Kenneth S. Deffeyes, who uses a formula based on known reserves and production figures that predicted 1970 as the start of oil production decline in The United States. It actually occurred shortly afterward in 1971, and Deffeyes sees the same situation in global production occurring this year.

Deffeyes’ prediction is clearly controversial. Still, dozens of energy experts and academics are taking the “peak-oil” theory increasingly seriously.".....

...."Simmons also dismisses claims that improvements in technology will extend the petroleum age by increasing oil recovery from reserves above the 40 percent now possible. He points to North Sea oil, saying production there peaked six years ago, despite all out oil-industry attempts to increase output by tapping unexploitable reserves through new means.

Of course, if demand sags, the petroleum era will last longer. So, when is oil going to peak?

Simmons suggests it could be sooner than later.

“The difference between peak oil happening and [oil] running out completely is the difference between me saying ‘I’m getting slightly hungry’ and ‘I’m starving to death.”

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