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Did oil production already peaked ?

According to the Daily Green, the International Energy Agency is wondering if oil supply can still answer to the demand and is investigating the situation for the first time of its history.

In other words, the IEA believes that peak oil may have been reached already. Indeed, with oil prices increasing by thirty percent in just a few months, one can seriously wonder.

This is a critical question for our economies as this energy source accounts for nearly a third of the global energy mix.

This surprises me in some way, as when writing my overview of the oil industry, I mentioned sources that believed that oil production would peak between 2015 and 2020.

According to the Agence France Presse, quoted by the Daily Green :

A leading global energy monitor said Thursday it is worried that demand for oil will outstrip world supply and is preparing a landmark revision of its closely watched forecasts. The International Energy Agency is studying depletion rates at about 400 oil fields in its first-ever study of world oil supply, said chief economist Fatih Birol.

“We are entering a new world energy order, ” Birol told The Associated Press.

Market analysts call the Paris-based IEA the world’s most reliable independent source of oil information, and its new forecasts are likely to further upset markets. Oil prices hit an all-time high Thursday above $135 a barrel before falling back.

Birol said the study, which will be released in November, was prompted by concern about the volatility of world oil markets and uncertainty about supply levels. “The prices are very high, and demand did not respond in the last few years as much as one would have expected,” Birol said. “The growth in terms of production was not great. We did not see enough investment.”

He would not speculate on whether the forecast, which will predict supplies through 2030, could go sharply downward. Birol said oil companies and governments have been cooperative with the IEA experts preparing the report, though analysts were skeptical that the agency would get a complete picture from often-secretive oil producing nations.

He said most demand now and in the coming decades will come from China, India and the Middle East. That is a stark shift from past decades, when the United States and Europe were demand-drivers.

The IEA is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which brings together 30 rich nations. It has no links to OPEC, and its review may challenge the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries’ view that the world is well-supplied with oil.

Gasoline prices sprinted to a new record high overnight ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. The national average rose above $3.83 a gallon. Some analysts predict gas will break past $4 as early as next week.

Oil prices rose to a record $135.09 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange before retreating to trade down $1.11 at $132.06 a barrel by afternoon in New York.

Unlike last year, oil prices are setting new record highs on a daily basis, pushing gas prices with them. The fear is that oil producing regions will not be able to meet future demand.

“The oil investments required may be much, much higher than what people assume,” Birol told The Wall Street Journal in a story published Thursday. “This is a dangerous situation.”

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3 Comments
  1. This not the definition of the peak. What the IEA is researching is if the current supply-demand combination which results in the current high prices is structural, or might even get “worse”. Rembrandt Koppelaar, a Dutch expert on peak oil doesn’t expect the actual peak in production not now, but in a few years.

    He has appeared on Dutch television just days ago, saying he expects the peak in five to ten years. I take his view very seriously because I know how rigorous he is researching the market.

    See http://youtube.com/watch?v=xBCmLLTRgfM

    Rembrand publishes a monthly oil watch report in English.
    See http://www.theoildrum.com/tag/oilwatch

    It’s good to see the IEA changing their position though.

  2. Yeah, exactly. It is not peak oil per se, but it is something approaching it.

    As I stated in my article, according to my own research I did two years ago, and quoting the CEO of Total and Shell, the real peak oil should occur between 2015 and 2020.

    I wonder what will happen then to oil prices.

    Thanks again for your comment and your data ! :)

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A French Management professional - now for hire - Edouard Stenger has been selecting since 2007 the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, environmental issues, cleantech and the world energy sector.

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“It is evident that many wars are fought over resources which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur…so, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace…those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.” — Wangari Maathai