“It’s a perfect storm headed our way — a steady rise in global demand for oil crashing up against an increasingly limited supply of economically recoverable oil,” wrote William Chameides, Duke University professor of environmental science.
Peak oil is not just here — it’s behind us already.
That’s the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based organization that provides energy analysis to 28 industrialized nations. According to a projection in the agency’s latest annual report, released last week, production of conventional crude oil probably topped out for good in 2006, at about 70 million barrels a day. Production from currently producing oil fields will drop sharply in coming decades, the report suggests.
The agency does not see energy doom on the horizon, however. By its estimation, after a short dip in production, crude production will reach an “undulating plateau” of about 68 million barrels a day between 2020 and 2035.
Yet strong demand growth from China, which the report estimates is now the world’s largest energy user, and elsewhere will require liquid energy supplies to climb by more than 20%. Meeting that additional demand will fall entirely on unconventional oil sources like Canada’s tar sands as well as increased production of natural gas liquids.
Overall, oil prices should continue to climb in coming decades, reaching $135 a barrel by 2035, a price level that some economists believe contributed to the global economic collapse of 2008.