Wednesday, November 15, 2006

McClatchy Washington Bureau | Historian says peak oil production is still a quarter-century away

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 11/14/2006 | Historian says peak oil production is still a quarter-century away:

"WASHINGTON - Far from being a nearly exhausted resource, the world's oil reserves are three times bigger than what some popular estimates state, and peak global oil production is still about a quarter-century away, according to a new study by Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian Daniel Yergin.

The remaining oil resource base is about 3.74 trillion barrels, according to a report released Tuesday by Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which Yergin runs. That's more than three times the 1.2 trillion barrels that 'peak-oil' theorists suggest.

CERA's report, titled 'Why the Peak Oil Theory Falls Down,' challenges an increasingly popular view that the world is about to run out of oil. On the contrary, CERA argues that the world is likely to begin running out of oil between 2030 and the middle of the century. Even so, CERA says, efforts are needed now to push that date back, such as new oil field discoveries, new technologies, energy conservation and alternative energy sources.

Peak-oil theorists warn that the world is on the cusp of a disastrous and rapid decline in oil production. A leading proponent of the theory is oil banker Matthew Simmons, who in the popular book 'Twilight in the Desert' suggested that the world's top producer, Saudi Arabia, has entered an oil-production decline and will take the world down with it. Last month, Simmons told a forum that the world might have reached peak oil production last December.

The peak-oil theory has gained supporters since late 2004, when surging global demand for oil began tightening up available supplies and driving up world oil prices. The price hit $78.40 a barrel in July, but has fallen to less than $60 a barrel in recent months.

The CERA study debunks the so-called Hubbert Peak Oil Theory, first espoused in 1956 by geologist M. King Hubbert. Working at the time for Shell Oil Co., he predicted that world oil production would follow a bell-shaped curve in which production grows steadily until it peaks, followed by a rapid decline."

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