There is a "significant risk" that global oil production could begin to decline in the next decade, researchers said today.
A report by the UK Energy Research Council (UKERC) said worldwide production of conventionally extracted oil could "peak" and go into terminal decline before 2020 – but that the government was not facing up to the risk...
ODAC Press Release
UKERC Report Exposes Bankruptcy of Government's Position on Peak Oil
ODAC welcomes the UKERC’s report Global Oil Depletion: An assessment of the evidence for a near-term peak in global oil production, published today (8th October), as a thorough and dispassionate assessment of the evidence that reaches compelling conclusions. The report also exposes the bankruptcy of the British government’s position on peak oil.
The government insists peak oil will not occur before 2030 , and has refused to conduct a risk assessment that it might occur before 2020 . But after an 18-month inquiry by a team of 8 academics and industry consultants, the UKERC report concludes the peak of conventional oil production is “likely” to occur before 2030, and there is a “significant risk” that it will come before 2020.
Christopher Patey, chairman of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, and a former executive with Mobil, said “this excellent report exposes the British government’s position on peak oil for what it really is – obstinate denial in the face of the growing evidence, and a reckless gamble on all our futures”.
The government bases its view on the work of the International Energy Agency, which forecasts conventional oil will peak in 2020, but which argues that rising output from non-conventional sources such as the Canadian tar sands will push the overall production peak out to “around 2030” The UKERC report does not address this question directly, but the numbers in the report show how unlikely it is that non-conventional oil will defer the peak for long, because of the sheer size of the hole left by conventional depletion.
The UKERC report shows that two thirds of current oil production capacity – 60 million barrels per day - must be replaced by 2030 before allowing for demand growth. By contrast, non-conventional resources are expensive and difficult to produce and unlikely to expand by anything like that much. One of the most optimistic industry forecasts for tar sands production, for instance, from energy consultancy IHS CERA, shows output reaching 6.3 mb/d by 2035  - less than one tenth of conventional depletion, even before allowing for demand growth. In ODAC’s view the date of peak oil is likely to be determined by the date of the conventional peak, and the government’s position is unjustifiable and dangerous.
 Growth in the Canadian Oil Sands: Finding the New Balance, IHS CERA, http://www.cera.com/aspx/cda/filedisplay/publicFileDisplay.ashx?KID=228&CID=9864&PK=36759