World Crude Oil Production Projected to Peak a Decade Sooner


Source: iStock Photo via American Chemical Society.

Guest blogger Cara Smusiak is a journalist and regular contributor to NaturallySavvy.com's Naturally Green section.

Alternative energy efforts received a bit of a boon this week from a study published in the American Chemical Society's journal Energy & Fuels, which revealed conventional crude oil production might peak in 2014--a decade sooner than other predictions have indicated.

The study, from scientists in Kuwait, is based on a modified version of the Hubbert model, which accurately predicted that oil production would peak in 1970 in the U.S. The "multicyclic Hubbert" model takes into account the complexities of oil production cycles in countries, which can be influenced by technological advancements, politics, economic conditions, and regulations.Many Countries Have Peaked Already
Ibrahim Nashawi and colleagues assessed oil production trends in 47 major oil-producing countries, which supply most of the world's crude oil. Notably, some of the countries have already hit their peak. Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Russia, Norway, the U.K., China, Iran, and Indonesia have all peaked, according to the researchers' calculations.

But there are many countries which are expected to peak after 2014, most notably OPEC member countries, which are expected to peak in 2026; the non-OPEC countries included in this study peaked in 2006.

Iraq's crude oil production isn't expected to peak until 2036 due to it's "huge" reserves and political events that have effected production. Saudi Arabia, which has the largest oil reserve in the world, "will remain by far the highest crude oil producer for years to come," the study states. And there are other countries which "show a promising future oil production increase," including Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Libya.

Also noteworthy is the revelation that the world's oil reserves are being depleted at a rate of 2.1 percent per year, while the U.S. crude oil reserve is being depleted at three times the world rate (6.3 percent annually).

It should be noted that the study doesn't account for shale oil and oil sands production, so this isn't a model for world oil production.

Good News for Alternative Energy
Conventional crude oil production peaking sooner than previously thought opens the door to opportunities for investing in and developing alternative energy projects. The more accurate forecasting can, as the researchers point out, help inform public policy debate.

As Bart Anderson explained in a Peak Moment video, learning about peak oil and developing a multifaceted plan is essential. There's no point in burying our heads in the sand.

Source: Forecasting World Crude Oil Production Using Multicyclic Hubbert Model
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