08 August 2009

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) published in Nov 2007 (p.13):

For oil and gas, proven reserves are estimated to be sufficient for only around 40 and 63 years of 2006 levels of consumption respectively. Nevertheless, oil and gas production is not expected to peak within the next two to three decades. With more exploration and improvements in extraction technologies, substantial new reserves will be added. Since 1980, globally proven oil reserves have expanded by 81 per cent, while proven gas reserves have more than doubled.
I had previously criticized this report for being too optimistic in its oil projections and economic growth outlook because they had taken as face value data published from British Petroleum (BP ) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In recent months, the IEA has changed its tune and its chief economist, Dr Fatih Birol, now believes that global peak oil production is likely in the next 10 years. See:

The Independent: Warning: Oil Supplies Are Running Out Fast

TimesOnline: World needs four new Saudi Arabias, warns IEA

The "early peakers" (ASPO and TheOilDrum.com) estimate peak oil to occur between 2005 and 2012. Whichever the date, it's probably too late to make a smooth transition to a post-peak oil world. Alternative energy did not save us during the runup of oil prices from $20/barrel in 1999 to $147 in 2008, and neither will it at $200 or $300 per barrel because the economy would have cratered at those levels hampering the development of these energy projects. Kurt Cobb has a wonderful explanation here: Receding Horizons for Alternative Energy Supplies

It'll be interesting to see what MTI has to say in their next energy report in view of the recent IEA changes. Any attempts to sidestep this issue as the IMCSD did in the Sustainable Development Blueprint and further promote unsustainable growth will only spell disaster in the long term.