Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oil Reserves

In the most recent edition of Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies, radio host and blogger Gregg Jackson argues that oil production is not likely to peak because estimates of reserves are always increasing and because alternative energy sources are reducing demand for oil. For example, he cites about 1.5 trillion barrels of oil that may be recoverable from Saudi Arabia and oil shale alone; this is roughly four times the amount of proven reserves.

If the highest estimates for proven reserves for all fossil fuels are multiplied by four, then my mode case total energy model projects that oil will be depleted by 2125; natural gas by 2135; and coal by 2384. This assumes of course that the model is wrong about the population crashing in 2068.

There is good reason to believe that this optimistic estimate of unproven reserves may be wrong. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2007 includes a table showing how estimates of proven reserves of oil have changed over time, and the estimates appear to have reached their own peak, declining for the first time in 2006.

Jackson appears to assume that liberals WANT oil production to peak. Setting aside the objection that this is not a “liberal” issue, people who are concerned with fossil energy production trends embrace alternative energy sources for exactly the reason he mentions. The only way to keep demand from exceeding a clearly fixed supply is to find replacements.

No comments: