Friday, October 15, 2010

Can Oil Production Meet Rising Global Demand?

On October 7, 2010, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on challenges facing the oil industry to keep pace with rising global demand, and the potential implications for oil prices, national security, and the world economy. Numerous sources project demand for liquid fuels to rise to historically unprecedented levels once the global economy recovers from the recent recession. Global oil production, meanwhile, has leveled off since 2005, real oil prices have roughly doubled, and spare capacity has tightened, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Potential constraints on global oil production have raised concerns among industry observers, military leaders, and policymakers. This briefing examined the economic, technical, and political factors that influence the rate at which oil is extracted and processed, and how patterns of global oil production are changing.

Can Oil Production Meet Rising Global Demand?

Some Highlights from Speaker Presentations
  • The challenge facing world oil production is not a problem of how much oil is in the ground (i.e. resources), but rather the rate at which oil can be economically recovered from proven reserves. That rate is constrained by a complex combination of economic, technical, geologic, and geopolitical factors.
  • The International Energy Agency projects that production of conventional oil from currently developed fields will decline by 20-30 million barrels per day by 2020. Meanwhile, global demand is projected to rise from approximately 85 million barrels per day at present to nearly 100 million barrels per day by 2020.
  • To date, growth in estimated world oil reserves has kept up with growth in global consumption. Most of this increase, however, has been from adjustments in the estimates of existing reserves. The rate of discovery of new oil fields has been dropping steadily since the 1960s, and is now well below the rate of global consumption.

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