The Peak in World Oil Production is Yet to Come  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Wall Street pitt has an article by James Hamilton on peak oil - The Peak in World Oil Production is Yet to Come.

World oil production stagnated between 2005 and 2007, which given rapid growth in demand from emerging economies sent oil prices shooting up. Some observers suggested that production might never rise much above the levels seen in 2005. Among those who raised this possibility, two of the more thoughtful have changed their mind. Euan Mearns last month summarized what he saw as three (or four) nails in the coffin of peak oil. And Stuart Staniford, an early editor and contributor for the Oil Drum, declared a few weeks ago that the data have spoken.

Certainly world oil production did not stop growing in 2005. Last year’s total was estimated by the EIA to be 4.8 million barrels higher each day than it had been in 2005.

About a third of the growth between 2005 and 2012 came in the form of natural gas liquids, chief among which are ethane and propane. These are useful hydrocarbons, but you can’t use them to power your car. The growth in NGL production has been a big benefit to industrial users of these chemicals; for motorists, not so much. Another important source of gain has been biofuels, which themselves require a significant energy input to produce. Actual field production of crude oil, which accounted for 87% of the total liquids produced in 2005, accounted for only 41% of the growth since 2005.

Those who thought that world oil production would peak in 2005 have been proven to be wrong. But so, too, were those who thought the run-up in oil prices of the last decade would be a temporary disruption until we found a way to return to the world as it had been for a century up until that point.

1 comments

As I remarked at Dr. Hamilton's site, a better statement is "you can't run your existing car on propane or CNG without modification." Both can fuel cars designed for them. Fueling infrastructure is a problem, as is energy density. Fleet operators seem to be headed in this direction, though, particularly UPS.

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