Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Peak Price Provokes Petroleum Pundits to Pontificate

$56.65 per barrel! Can you hear me now?
All of a sudden Peak Oil doesn't sound so crazy. The so called mainstream media is starting to give the concept some play - mostly in cautious comments acknowledging that "some experts" give some credence to the idea that supply and demand for oil are in a precarious balance.

Anyway I have some articles to read for those who are interested.

First of all, my main Hydrocarbon Homeboy, Webster Hubble Telescope, has flushed out some of the better ones.

In addition, the Oil and Gas Journal have some interesting articles on Global Oil Supply. Remember this rag is the mouth piece for the global oil industry. They have been writing about Peak Oil since last year, however. They have written two articles on Oil Supply Challenges - one looking at non-OPEC production and one looking at OPEC deliverability and the overall production capacity. (Editorial comment - Sorry about the links to these articles. I didn't realize that the Oil and Gas Journal Online required a subscription. I am searching for non-subscription versions of them. The second link goes to a non-subscription version of that article, but a lot of the graphics are left out)

The upshot of these articles is that the author estimates peak non-OPEC production between 2007 and 2009 - with worldwide peak production between 2016 and 2028. This is much further out than ASPO predicts, but that is based primarily in differing predictions of OPEC supply growth - and no one really knows how much oil Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, and Nigeria can really produce. Having looked at projects in a number of these countries, I am a firm believer that Murphy wrote the laws governing them and that industrial efficiency is not a concept that is highly regarded in any of them.

My own, not mathematically modeled, view of this situation is one of increasingly higher prices which will temper demand for oil over the short and mid terms (think global recession). Moreover the higher prices will ultimately force greater energy efficiency in the mid term (within 5 to 10 years out). The higher prices will also cause increased investment in the E&P sector - causing a flattening of the overall decline in production. In summary, I foresee a lengthy period of a precarious balance between supply and demand with increasing price refereeing the tug-of-war between the two forces.