Monday, 22 November 2010

IEA Global Energy Outlook 2010

The IEA has just released it's global energy outlook for 2010.
What's interesting (especially if you are a doomer) is that the "World oil production by type in the New Policies Scenario" graph visually shows that the IEA expects oil from conventional existing fields to start globally declining *now*.

I have a couple of points to raise:
1. It's unlikely that we will see a decline averaged across all of the global fields *without* first seeing a *longish* plateau of some sort. Why? Because the North Sea showed a plateau of ten years before showing a decline and the North Sea is a much smaller area. So I'd expect a plateau of *at least* ten years rather than the four to five years on the graph.

2. Even taking a very pessimistic approach (saying that *all* of the fields yet to be found *do not exist* and that the rest of the numbers are reasonable and accurate, then if we sum the fields yet to be developed (i.e. already found oil in the ground) PLUS the natural gas liquids PLUS unconventional oil and then subtract that from the projected decline we still are in surplus and even show a slight growth out till 2035 so we effectively have a slightly increasing plateau till 2035

3. Although they have accounted for substitutes in the form of EVs and PHEVs (pretty reasonable by my reckoning) there is no accounting for efficiency in regular vehicles - like increasing MPG of the North Amercian fleet from an average of 14MPG to 35MPG which should be easy. We also have *albeit expensive* substitutes in the form of nuclear powered shipping as well as demand destruction (like taking the bus or cycling or walking to work or moving closer to facilities or work).

So all in all, I'd say the IEA report is more optimistic even than I am. I personally expect to see a small decline rate starting around 2015 which we should be able to deal with by a combination of efficiency, substitution and *harmless* demand destruction.

The graphs in the report can be found here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another thing that is very interesting, when you look at the graphs, is that together with the production decline, they also prove the point you and several others (JD included) have made regarding demand in western countries, that it has started to decline and will continue to do so in the next decades!

Another interesting thing, this is a personal opinion though, is that the changes in global oil demand, production peaking as a result of retreating demand, presented in the 440 (it think it was) senario due to goverment policies WILL happen regardless, driven my high oil prices if the speculators keep pushin up the price even before demand recovers ;) the point here is that high prices fuel funding of alternatives, which the report shows is the key to making them replace oil in the future

all in all, their report is indeed stangly optimistic, it think that back in 2008 they were among those who expected a prinful oil crisis