Honestly, you wait years for the International Energy Agency to admit that peak oil is a reality, and then they tell you it’s already happened. This year’s World Energy Outlook came out on Tuesday, and it says the peak came in 2006.
The agency mentions this almost as an aside. In projecting energy supply over the next 25 years, it claims oil production will be running at 96 million barrels a day in 2035, but that includes unconventional fuels. “Crude oil production reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 mb/d, but never regains its all time peak of 70mb/d reached in 2006”.
There you have it – crude oil production peaked four years ago. Now, that’s conventional oil. The IEA’s current scenario suggests “production in total does not peak before 2035, although it comes close to doing so.”
The report offers this handy graph, which shows the outlook if we adopt some ‘new policies’ to reduce our oil use:
Hmm… a 40 year plateau? The amount of undiscovered oil exactly matches the depletion rate? That doesn’t look like any graph of peak oil that I’ve ever seen. Still, I suppose it’s a step in the right direction. Just six years ago the IEA were claiming that oil production would be running at 120 million barrels a day by 2030. They reduced that estimate to 116, and then 106, and now it’s somewhere around 90. Perhaps we are getting to the truth by increments.
The fact is, we don’t know how fast current oil fields will decline. We don’t know how much oil countries have, because all OPEC countries overstate their reserves. We don’t know what percentage of our proven reserves are recoverable. And we don’t know how much undiscovered oil is out there. The only thing we do know is that we need to reduce our oil dependency as a matter of urgency. Even the IEA will tell you that much.