energy film peak oil sustainability

The oil crunch: are we there yet?

In November last year I highlighted the fact that the IEA’s latest World Energy Outlook was already talking about peak oil in the past. By their estimate, conventional oil production peaked in 2006. It didn’t make the news, which surprised me, and the International Energy Agency did not elaborate.

So I was pleased to see this Australian investigation, where IEA’s Fatih Birol reiterates the 2006 figure. Remarkably, he says it would have been better if governments had started preparing for peak oil ten years ago. That’s a little rich. If governments haven’t acted, it’s due in large part to the IEA’s repeated denial that there is any such thing as peak oil.

PS. Strangely enough, I may be in this documentary myself, albeit the back of my head. Some of the footage is from a press conference that I attended last year at the Royal Society.


  1. The video is based upon a 4 year old report, based on data at least 5 years old. This is from 6 months ago…

    “According to the International Energy Authority, oil production has risen from 70 million barrels a day in 1995 to an estimated 86.9 million barrels this year.
    It will continue to rise to about 90 million barrels a day by the middle of this decade and will pass 100 million barrels in the following decade.
    During the next 20 years, the amount of oil pumped from existing fields will halve but new discoveries and oil from alternative sources such as tar sands will more than make up the difference. This is far from the doom-laden prediction of the Peak Oilers.
    The reason for the oil industry’s confidence is that geologists believe we have tapped only about one seventh of the world’s total reserves so far. Every few years, major new discoveries are made like Brazil’s offshore oil fields, which could produce 10 million barrels a day once developed.”

    1. We simply need to continue developing alternatives along side existing technologies until we reach a balance. This may take a century. But we have plenty of cheap energy we can responsibly use in the meantime.

      Our duty is to God’s children first, and his gift of the planet second. Not that they are mutually exclusive. But when a concession must be made, the planet must necessarily make one.

      We will always need petrochemicals, and there is an abundance of them, thank God.

  2. No, the claim that 2006 was the peak was made this year. It’s a 2011 estimate. The IEA just took four years to spot it.

    Yes, we need to develop alternatives alongside, and we will need petrochemicals for the foreseeable future. But there’s no room for complacency. As this year’s spike in the oil price shows, supply and demand are very finely balanced right now.

    I don’t see your distinction between people and planet, because the planet is where we live. Caring for the planet is caring for people, in the same way that when Habitat for Humanity rebuild someone’s home, they’re caring for that person, not for the bricks and mortar.

    There are conservation agencies that sideline people, sure. I avoid those ones and don’t support their work, but check out my favourite conservation group, A Rocha. They’re a Christian agency that demonstrate how environmental action can go hand in hand with community action, education, and science:

    1. Hey Jeremy! A Rocha looks like a good organization. The video I watched spoke of ‘practical conservation’, they could have been quoting me.

      I will leave a better world than I was given. And I do not need to deny my brother anything to do that.

  3. Also, the information is again based upon a study that was completed four years ago. Dr Kjel Aleklett of Uppsala University and a team did an in depth study to which he has since made regular updates ((“The Peak of the Oil Age – Analyzing the world oil production Reference Scenario in World Energy Outlook 2008.” Aleklett, K. Energy Policy [2009]), but the majority of his information was obtained in 2007. I’m sure you are aware of his work, but he is not the final authority. As someone who knows geologists working in the oil industry, I beleive his modeling is incorrect. I trust the geologists’ opinions more.

    Besides, I have seen this before. Back in the early seventies I was convinced that before I could get my driover’s license, we would run out of oil.

    “In a 1956 paper, Shell research scientist Marion King Hubbert advanced the idea that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. Turns out, he was correct. Others began applying his approach to global production expectations, and the idea of “peak oil” was born…. The crisis unfolding before us is not about the amount of oil but of the quality of that oil… The supply is there. But this supply that will cost more at the pump.”

  4. NEWSFLASH!!!!!!

    Analysts say a series of 20 new oilfields in Texas could increase domestic output by a quarter over the next decade. The government had better not stand in the way of getting this crude out of the ground.

    The media are predicting another oil boom in Texas. They’re reporting that more than a dozen companies have plans to drill 3,000 wells over the next year in the southern part of the state.

    According to energy research group IHS CERA, the shale fields could be producing as many as 3 million barrels a day by 2020.

    “This is very big and it’s coming on very fast,” Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS CERA, told the New York Times. “This is like adding another Venezuela or Kuwait by 2020, except these tight oilfields are in the United States.”

  5. Hey Jeremy. Nice edit. ; )

    I knoow you wouldn’t bet on it. You hope it is untrue. You want AGW to be real so that you can force people to do what you think is best for them. I’m a quick learner.

    I’m not saying you would do this out of spite, meanneess or lust for power. You believe you are right.

    The problem is that you are wrong to ask me to make sacrifices for a problem you cannot even find.

    There is nothing unusual or unprecedented about our current climate or how we got here.

    There is not one peer reviewed paper that refutes natural variability as the cause of recent climate changes.

    Models, as you know, do not count. They are an exercise, a tool to help understand forcings, and nothing more.

    The least you could do before taking my money and freedoms, is give me proof that it is necessary and that it will work.

    You cannot do either.

    It is immoral to proceed.

  6. And you are posting links about oil investment news on a blog post about the overall decline of oil production. There are new ‘discoveries’ and oil opportunities all the time. Many of them come to nothing, but they big them up to get the investment money. Look up the story of Desire Oil in the Falklands, or Madagascar Oil’s short run on London’s stock market, two of last year’s big failures.

    For the bigger picture, I invite you to look up the discovery rate versus the extraction rate, and then come back and tell me we don’t have a problem.

    But I don’t suppose you will.

  7. ” As this year’s spike in the oil price shows, supply and demand are very finely balanced right now.”

    Actually the “Spike” in Prices is due largely to the weaker American Dollar not a shortage in supply, in fact supplys have been increasing rapidly. Demand has also increased, granted maybe as fast or faster than supply in some cases.

    If you compare the price of oil to gold they have remained at near par for 15 years. By that i mean that the same amount of gold would buy roughly the same anount of oil now as in the past decade and a half.

    The Spike in Gold and Oil is largely due to a weakened dollar value. Liberal Tax and Spend economics will only hasten this trend.

    A visual here.

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