Friday, June 13, 2008

The Oil Wall

I applied my consumption model to the world oil data in latest energy statistics from BP for the period 1965 to 2007, and got a much different set of projections than the ones I got using just the energy component from the Energy Information Administration for 1980 to 2004. Both consumption and production projections imply that the total amount of oil in the world is more than 90 times the amount of known reserves, and that our use of it will not peak for more than 250 years.

There is a problem however: Consumption has exceeded production since 1980. By 1999, we had used up the extra oil accumulated since 1965 (produced oil that wasn’t consumed). At the end of last year we had a net deficit of 9.5 billion barrels; presumably drawing from oil produced before 1965 (I estimate we would have had to start saving oil in 1952; by 2010, the required start year will be 1945).

This analysis suggests that the increasing oil prices we are experiencing may be due to economic players such as speculators waking up to the possibility that we are running out of available oil. Whatever the cause of the inadequate production (greed, limited technology, or limited accessibility of reserves), it is clear that increased production is the only near-term solution that makes sense.

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