Oil Officials See Limit Looming on Production – WSJ.com

Current Affairs

Even the Wall Street Journal is starting to fret about energy supply:

“A growing number of oil-industry chieftains are endorsing an idea long deemed fringe: The world is approaching a practical limit to the number of barrels of crude oil that can be pumped every day.

The world certainly won’t run out of oil any time soon. And plenty of energy experts expect sky-high prices to hasten the development of alternative fuels and improve energy efficiency. But evidence is mounting that crude-oil production may plateau before those innovations arrive on a large scale. That could set the stage for a period marked by energy shortages, high prices and bare-knuckled competition for fuel.

The current debate represents a significant twist on an older, often-derided notion known as the peak-oil theory. Traditional peak-oil theorists, many of whom are industry outsiders or retired geologists, have argued that global oil production will soon peak and enter an irreversible decline because nearly half the available oil in the world has been pumped. They’ve been proved wrong so often that their theory has become debased.

The new adherents — who range from senior Western oil-company executives to current and former officials of the major world exporting countries — don’t believe the global oil tank is at the half-empty point. But they share the belief that a global production ceiling is coming for other reasons: restricted access to oil fields, spiraling costs and increasingly complex oil-field geology. This will create a global production plateau, not a peak, they contend, with oil output remaining relatively constant rather than rising or falling.”

I’m not sure which “Peak Oil” model they’re saying has been repeatedly wrong. As I understand it the model is strictly concerned with a macroscopic view of production – and doesn’t speak to micro realities of how the supply plateaus.

But even putting aside the apparently face-saving rhetoric, it’s a bit startling the WSJ is starting to get on-board.

And oil is still hovering just shy of $100/barrel. Even given the falling dollar, it’s still a way higher than production costs. Which is a sign that there’s a supply-vs-demand thing going on here.

Read the rest here.

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