We haven't checked in with the Peak Oil debate for a while, and this could be a good time to do so.
Fatih Birol, chief economist of the OECD's International Energy Agency (IEA), has pulled in his prediction for when world oil production will peak to only 11 years from now.
In an interview with The Independent, Dr Birol said that the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years – at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.The reason for the change? The IEA has found that production from existing oil fields is dropping a lost faster than they predicted.
The IEA estimates that the decline in oil production in existing fields is now running at 6.7 per cent a year compared to the 3.7 per cent decline it had estimated in 2007, which it now acknowledges to be wrong.
The faster existing field production declines the faster new fields must be discovered and developed just to break even. The problem: world oil discovery peaked in 1965. In spite of all the technological advances since 1965 the discovery rate is less than a fifth the peak rate and less than a third of the yearly oil consumption rate. [More]
Of course, exactly what Peak Oil means to our economy and culture is debatable. But it is hard to try to fit the consumption increases we know are coming in Asia with declining oil production and not envision much higher oil prices sooner than later. Not to mention inflation and the value of our heavily leveraged dollar.
This is good news I think for all kinds of alternate energy, but especially ethanol, as the comparative economics get better as oil prices rise. Dirt cheap natural gas has to be helping too.
But the niggling question I have with "problems in the oil fields" reasons is how many of them would magically find a solution should oil wander back into triple digits?