Has the world already passed “peak oil”?
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the answer is yes. Data suggests that global production of conventional fossil fuels peaked in 2006, and based on the agency’s projections, future production is likely to flatline at around 68 to 69 million barrels per day (bpd).
The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2010 warns crude oil production will “never regain its all-time peak of 70 million bpd reached in 2006. Rising oil prices and cutbacks in oil industry investments may further reduce global oil production levels from IEA’s original predictions.
However, the predicted plateau in conventional oil production does not necessarily mean that our energy-hungry world will not find new liquid fuel sources elsewhere. The IEA points to “unconventional” sources such as tar sands and liquid natural gas (LNG). However promising these resources might be, the IEA warns that production is especially carbon-intensive, with total “well-to-wheel” life cycles resulting in higher total carbon emissions than conventional crude oil.
In the end, global consumers and policymakers will play a big role in securing future energy supplies while reducing greenhouse gas output. “The age of cheap oil is over,” remarked IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. “If the consuming nations do not make major efforts to slow down the oil demand growth, we will see higher prices which we think is not good news for the economies of the consuming nations.” Read more here…