July 27, 2014

Peak Oil - Are we there yet?

It's time to update our charts to see if the world is running out of oil. If you would like to see the old charts, you can find them here: Oil Since 1859

But what's Peak Oil? The basic idea behind Peal Oil is that the world is running out of oil. The geoscientist Marion King Hubbert, who used to work for the petroleum company Shell, developed a curve. Hubbert's curve says that for any given geographical area – from an individual oil-producing region to the planet as a whole – the petroleum production follows a bell-shaped curve. The top of the curve is the important peak. After the peak has passed, the supply of oil will decrease.

The current amount of oil available was estimated to 1 258 billion barrels. As the world consumed 87 million barrels per day in 2010, this oil will last for about 40 years. The co-founder of the electric car company Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, expects this peak will happen around year 2020 and the world will finally run out of oil in 2050. That's why he's building electric cars.

This graph shows the global oil production and that we can see no signs of Peak Oil as the production still grows.


The next graph shows the data but for US only. We can see that the oil production in US peaked in the 1960s, but has begun to increase again because of fracking. We can also see that US is still dependent on importing oil - 2 817 325 000 barrels per year. 


Something else that has happened since last year is the rise of a number of conflicts in and with the large oil exporters. According to Wikipedia, the largest oil exporters are:
  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. Russia
  3. United Arab Emirates
  4. Norway
  5. Iraq

What has happened with these countries since last year? Saudi Arabia is currently not involved in any conflicts, but the new "terror" organization ISIS has said they will conquer the entire Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. Russia's foreign policy is more aggressive (Ukraine), and the "west" has fought back by a number of sanctions. Today, there was a rumor that Russia would fight back against these sanctions by seizing oil assets owned by companies in the west, PB and Shell. United Arab Emirates is on the same map that shows what countries ISIS will conquer. Norway's oil production has declined for a few years, and the country has issued a terror alert. What happens if these terrorists targets the oil industry? Large parts of Iraq is currently conquered by ISIS. But ISIS is exporting oil, but the question is if the rest of the world will buy this oil?  

So No! Peak Oil has not happened - but the supply of oil may still fall.