Peak oil

The rate of global oil extraction and refining may be approaching its peak. This does not mean that oil supplies will run out within the next few years. However it does mean that remaining oil supplies will be increasingly concentrated in a few countries, and that demand will start to exceed supply, signalling an end to the era of widely available cheap oil supplies upon which agriculture and industry currently rely. The impact of peak production is likely to be exacerbated by a rapid population growth and rising energy demand in emerging economies. This will to lead to rising costs for transport fuels, food production and manufacturing.

In 2005, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that global oil supplies could be raised (from 83m) to120m barrells a day by 2030. But this prediction has since been reduced to 116m and then 105m (in 2008), with some now suggesting that it would be difficult to maintain ouput of more than 90-95m barrells a day by 2030.

An IEA report in 2009 indicated a potential gap of 7m barrels a day between supply and demand by 2015, equivalent to 8% of global demand. The IEA predicts that production from existing conventional oil fields will fall by 50% by 2020. To meet growing demand, an extra 64m barrels a day may need to be provided from non-conventional oil (i.e. oil extracted by methods other than traditional oil wells), natural gas liquids, and crude oil fields that are yet to be developed /discovered.

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