Wednesday, November 10, 2010

IEA Acknowledges Peak Oil

If you go to the executive summary of the 2009 International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook, and search for "peak oil", your browser will come up empty.  The whole subject was so beneath the dignity of a serious energy agency that they didn't even bother mentioning it.

However, yesterday, the 2010 IEA World Energy Outlook became available.  And if you repeat the exercise in that executive summary, you will come upon a section titled:

Will peak oil be a guest or the spectre at the feast?

Followed by an explicit discussion of the whole question.  The IEA's position is summarized in the graph above - conventional crude oil production has already peaked in 2006!  Suddenly, the subject of impending peak has gone from not worthy of discussion to in the past already!

However, all is not lost: in their projections natural gas liquids and unconventional oil production (tar sands, coal-to-liquids, etc) will cause the total liquid production to continue to gradually increase out to 2035.  

However, as last year, but with much more emphasis this year, they note that slow growth in total supply, combined with rapid growth in developing countries, means that developed countries will be using less oil in future:

All this is in their "New Policies" central scenario.  This assumes, roughly, that governments make some real, if halting, efforts towards the commitments they made at the Copenhagen conference.

Alas, if you rely on the New York Times, you'd still be in the dark.  The piece on the report doesn't make a peep about peak oil (being focussed entirely on the China demand growth aspect of the report, which is admittedly interesting and important).

Anyway, the materials on the World Energy Outlook website are well worth reading in full - the IEA definitely seems increasingly reality-based.

Although there is still this:

I'll eat my hat if Saudia Arabia is producing 13 million barrels/day in 2035.


KLR said...

I'll eat my hat if Saudia Arabia is producing 13 million barrels/day in 2035.

Stetson or Homburg? KSA topped out at 9.7 mb/d C+C in July '08, so this chart would put them closer to 15 mb/d, and that only oil. Of course surely you don't doubt they can maintain these levels forever, right?

What are they forecasting for the 2020 Chinese auto fleet - ca. 125 million? It's about 1/2 the current US size on the chart. That's actually on the low side of projections I've come across - think ca. 200 million. That's going to guzzle down some mb/d.

KLR said...

They're also forecasting 8.5 million PHEV/EV sales in 2035 China. BYD's PHEV has been a flop to date - sales in the hundreds. Better get cracking on that neuvo middle class, guys.

Stuart Staniford said...

KLR - I was assuming the 5mbd was on top of current production (8.01, 8.11, 8.11mbd are the last three months in the most recent IEA OMR).

Unknown said...

They still act as if there won't be any potential shortages until 2015. I suppose that's progress, but the incremental production graph basically tells us that they are still deep in denial.

Douglas said...

Stetson or Homburg?
Pork Pie, obviously. Tasty.

That's a very suspicious line for conventional oil on the first graph. Nice and straight out to 2035.

jdl75 said...

Talking about China is easy, however regarding the CURRENT big picture, the important fact remains that the current US consumption is still higher than the ones of : China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and India, COMBINED !!

Don't you guys feel like something could be done in your "country" ?
Oh yes I know tax is a bad word and you HATE politics (god is better). Time to help you learn to behave a bit maybe, no ? ...

jdl75 said...

And regarding the IEA story and its reports over the years, a key piece of information below :

geolog said...

"Fields jet to be found.." Exploratory drilling goes after geophysical research data. Obviously if the data is unreliable the drilling result will be the same. Now success rate is about 25%. What happen if success rate reaches 75%? If it is so, Peak Oil will be removed to next century.

Anonymous said...

That "World Oil production by type" graph looks like a total crock to me.

1. From currently known but undeveloped fields, between 2009 (0 mbd) and 2035 (46 mbd) this graph shows approx 230 billion barrels being produced. Maximum production from such fields is no earlier than 2035 as it is still increasing to that year, so you'd have to postulate that at least that much production is still to be gotten, ie at least 460 billion barrels total.
Does anyone know if, right now, there are 460 bbl of reserves in known but undeveloped fields?

2. Production from yet to be discovered fields starts in about 5 years time, and grows steadily to be about 22 mbd by 2035, for a cumulative production around 85 bbl. Again, production in that category has not peaked by 2035 implying reserves of at least 170 bbl discovered between 2010 and 2030.
Does anyone have historical figures for reserve discovery rates, and as a sanity test what would a graph of discovery rates from say 1930-2030 look like?