Le pic évoqué dans "La tête au carré" [France Inter]

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Le pic évoqué dans "La tête au carré" [France Inter]

Message par kaosyouki » 27 janv. 2012, 14:26

.
Dernière modification par kaosyouki le 19 mars 2013, 19:14, modifié 1 fois.

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Re: Le pic évoqué dans "La tête au carré" [France Inter]

Message par energy_isere » 27 janv. 2012, 17:52

kaosyouki a écrit :Un article de David King et James Murray concernant le pic de production de pétrole publié dans la revue scientifique Nature ..........


Il s' agit d' un article dans Nature de Janvier 2012.

Climate policy: Oil's tipping point has passed

authors : James Murray1 & David King2


malheureusement il n' est pas en ligne, c' est payant.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v4 ... 1433a.html

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Re: Le pic évoqué dans "La tête au carré" [France Inter]

Message par energy_isere » 27 janv. 2012, 18:01

L' article de Nature est évoqué ici : http://peakoil.com/geology/nature-has-p ... -happened/
Nature: Has Peak Oil Already Happened?

A new analysis concludes that easily extracted oil peaked in 2005, suggesting that dirtier fossil fuels will be burned and energy prices will rise

...................
Even with large supplies of coal and natural gas, the world faces a potential energy shortfall, one reason that the U.S. Department of Energy suggested in a 2005 report (pdf) that a “crash program” to cope with any decline in oil supplies be instituted. The report argued this program should start 20 years before peak global production to avoid “extreme economic hardship.” That’s because it will take decades for any kind of energy transition to occur, as evidenced by past shifts such as from wood to coal or coal to oil.

In fact, King and Murray argue that global economic growth itself may be impossible without a concurrent growth in energy supply (that is, more abundant fossil fuels, to date). “We need to decouple economic growth from fossil-fuel dependence,” King adds. “This is not happening due to industrial, infrastructural, political and human behavioral inertia. We are stuck in our ways.”



Energy Bulletin en parle aussi.

Commentary in Nature: Can economy bear what oil prices have in store?

by Staff January, 26 2012

Stop wrangling over global warming and instead reduce fossil-fuel use for the sake of the global economy.

That's the message from two scientists, one from the University of Washington and one from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who say in the current issue of the journal Nature (Jan. 26) that the economic pain of a flattening oil supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels. [Nature article is Climate policy: Oil's tipping point has passed, unfortunately behind a paywall.]

"Given our fossil-fuel dependent economies, this is more urgent and has a shorter time frame than global climate change," says James W. Murray, UW professor of oceanography, who wrote the Nature commentary with David King, director of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

The "tipping point" for oil supply appears to have occurred around 2005, says Murray, who compared world crude oil production with world prices going back to 1998. Before 2005, supply of regular crude oil was elastic and increased in response to price increases. Since then, production appears to have hit a wall at 75 million barrels per day in spite of price increases of 15 percent each year.

"As a result, prices swing wildly in response to small changes in demand," the co-authors wrote. "Others have remarked on this step change in the economies of oil around the year 2005, but the point needs to be lodged more firmly in the minds of policy makers."

For those who argue that oil reserves have been increasing, that more crude oil will be available in the future, the co-authors wrote: "The true volume of global proved reserves is clouded by secrecy; forecasts by state oil companies are not audited and appear to be exaggerated. More importantly, reserves often take 6 - 10 years to drill and develop before they become part of the supply, by which time older fields have become depleted." Production at oil fields around the world is declining between 4.5 percent and 6.7 percent per year, they wrote.

"For the economy, it's production that matters, not how much oil might be in the ground," Murray says. In the U.S., for example, production as a percentage of total reserves went from 9 percent to 6 percent in the last 30 years.

"We've already gotten the easy oil, the oil that can be produced cheaply," he says. "It used to be we'd drill a well and the oil would flow out, now we have to go through all these complicated and expensive procedures to produce the oil."

The same is true of alternative sources such as tar sands or "fracking" for shale gas, Murray says, where supplies may be exaggerated and production is expensive. Take the promise of shale gas and oil: A New York Times investigative piece last June reported that "the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells."

Production at shale gas wells can drop 60 to 90 percent in the first year of operation, according to a world expert on shale gas who was one of the sources for the commentary piece. Murray and King built their commentary using data and information from more than 15 international and U.S. government reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, reports from groups such as the National Research Council and Brookings Institution and association findings.

Stagnant oil supplies and volatile prices take a toll on the world economy. Of the 11 recessions in the U.S. since World War II, ten were preceded by a spike in oil prices, the commentary noted.

"Historically, there has been a tight link between oil production and global economic growth," the co-authors wrote. "If oil production can't grow, the implication is that the economy can't grow either."

Calculations from the International Monetary Fund, for example, say that to achieve a 4 percent growth in the global economy in the next five years, oil production must increase about 3 percent a year.


"Yet to achieve that will require either an heroic increase in oil production, ... increased efficiency of oil use, more energy-efficient growth or rapid substitution of other fuel sources," according to the commentary. "Economists and politicians continually debate policies that will lead to a return to economic growth. But because they have failed to recognize that the high price of energy is a central problem, they haven't identified the necessary solutions: weaning society off fossil fuel."

The commentary concludes: "This will be a decades-long transformation and we need to start immediately. Emphasizing the short-term economic imperative from oil prices must be enough to push governments into action now."

http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2 ... have-store

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Re: Le pic évoqué dans "La tête au carré" [France Inter]

Message par energy_isere » 27 janv. 2012, 18:08

Une suggestion pour Gillesh38,

si tu pouvais avoir cet article par ton université ca serait bien.

Et puis un petit commentaire sur ton blog qui suivrait serait pas mal. :)

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Re: Le pic évoqué dans "La tête au carré" [France Inter]

Message par Philippe » 27 janv. 2012, 18:40

J'ai cet article, tout juste reçu de Jean Lahérerre, et je peux l'envoyer par le courrier électronique à ceux qui m'en feront la demande (1,1 Mo).

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Re: Le pic évoqué dans "La tête au carré" [France Inter]

Message par energy_isere » 27 janv. 2012, 18:51

Philippe a écrit :J'ai cet article, tout juste reçu de Jean Lahérerre, et je peux l'envoyer par le courrier électronique à ceux qui m'en feront la demande (1,1 Mo).


Merci ! :-P
Demande faite par MP.

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Un article de "Nature" sur le pic.

Message par GillesH38 » 31 janv. 2012, 07:34

je crois que c'est un première : un article scientifique dans Nature qui va dans le sens d'une preuve du pic pétrolier conventionnel en 2005.

http://sciences.blogs.liberation.fr/home/2012/01/le-pétrole-aurait-touché-son-pic-de-hubbert-en-2005.html

pour ceux qui ont accès au journal (payant):

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v4 ... 1433a.html

L'argument essentiel est que la corrélation naturelle hausse des prix -> hausse de la production a changé de nature à ce moment, les prix ont flambé sans que la production monte.

Image

petit satisfecit personnel (pourquoi se priver :) ), en 2007, j'avais proposéici mêmeaussi qu'un signe du pic serait montré par la corrélation prix - croissance de production, avec un indicateur un peu différent : le sens de "rotation" de la courbe prix- croissance de production : avant c'est une baisse de production qui provoquait ensuite la hausse des prix - là c'est la hausse qui produit ensuite une baisse de consommation, puis de production. Du coup le sens de rotation sur la courbe prix-production s'inverse , ce qu'on constate effectivement
Image
- Je suis Charlie - "I do not see any harm in people making money if it leads to a lower carbon society " R.K. Pachauri, président du GIEC, interview du 6 mai 2008 à Emirates Business.

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Re: Un article de "Nature" sur le pic.

Message par GillesH38 » 01 févr. 2012, 07:18

oups désolé d'avoir ouvert un nouveau fil, ça m'étonnait aussi qu'il n'ait pas encore été repéré :) je ne fais que des passages brefs en ce moment étant un peu souvent en déplacement. Je peux le mettre en lien sur mon site perso, si ça ne risque pas de créer des problèmes au forum (on n'est pas censé rendre public un article payant ...)
- Je suis Charlie - "I do not see any harm in people making money if it leads to a lower carbon society " R.K. Pachauri, président du GIEC, interview du 6 mai 2008 à Emirates Business.

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Re: Un article de "Nature" sur le pic.

Message par Superus » 08 mars 2012, 15:41

Voici l'article complet \:D/.

Climate policy: Oil's tipping point has passed

* James Murray1
* & David King2

* Affiliations
* Corresponding author

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
481,
Pages:
433–435
Date published:
(26 January 2012)
DOI:
doi:10.1038/481433a

Published online
25 January 2012

The economic pain of a flattening supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels, say James Murray and David King.
Subject terms:

* Geology
* Geophysics
* Climate science
* Policy


In many parts of the world, particularly the United States, continuing debates about the quality of climate-change science and doubts about the scale of negative environmental impacts have held back political action against rising greenhouse-gas emissions. But there is a potentially more persuasive argument for lowering global emissions: the impact of dwindling oil supplies on the economy.

There is less fossil-fuel production available to us than many people believe. From 2005 onwards, conventional crude-oil production has not risen to match increasing demand. We argue that the oil market has tipped into a new state, similar to a phase transition in physics: production is now 'inelastic', unable to respond to rising demand, and this is leading to wild price swings. Other fossil-fuel resources don't seem capable of making up the difference.


Such major spikes in fuel price can cause economic crises, and contributed to the one the world is recovering from now. The future economy is unlikely to be able to bear what oil prices have in store. Only by moving away from fossil fuels can we both ensure a more robust economic outlook and address the challenges of climate change. This will be a decades-long transformation1 that needs to start immediately.

Production of crude oil increased along with demand from 1988 to 2005. But then something changed. Production has been roughly constant for the past seven years, despite an increase in price of around 15% per year2 (at Brent crude (London) prices) from about US$15 per barrel in 1998 to more than $140 per barrel in 2008 (see 'Oil production hits a ceiling'). The price still reflects demand: it declined to about $35 per barrel in 2009 thanks to the 2008–09 recession, and recovered along with the upturn in the global economy to $120 per barrel before declining to its value today of $111. But the supply chain has been unable to keep pace with rising demand and prices.

The idea of 'peak oil' — that global production will reach a peak and then decline — has been around for decades, with academics arguing about whether this peak has already passed or is yet to come. The typical industry response is to point to increasing assessments of global reserves — the amount known to be in the ground that can be produced commercially. But this is misleading. The true volume of proven global reserves is clouded by secrecy; forecasts by state oil companies are not audited and seem to be exaggerated3. More importantly, reserves often take 6–10 years to drill and develop before they become part of supply, by which time older fields have become depleted. It is far more sensible to look instead at actual production records, which are less encouraging. Even while reserves are apparently increasing, the percentage available for production is going down. In the United States, for example, production as a percentage of reserves has steadily decreased from 9% in 1980 to 6% today2. Production at existing oil fields around the world is declining at rates of about 4.5% (ref. 4) to 6.7% per year5. Only by adding in production from new wells is overall global production holding steady.

In 2005, global production of regular crude oil reached about 72 million barrels per day. From then on, production capacity seems to have hit a ceiling at 75 million barrels per day. A plot of prices against production from 1998 to today2 shows this dramatic transition, from a time when supply could respond elastically to rising prices caused by increased demand, to when it could not (see 'Phase shift'). As a result, prices swing wildly in response to small changes in demand. Other people have remarked on this step change in the economics of oil around the year 2005, but the point needs to be lodged more firmly in the minds of policy-makers.


Image

Easy access

We are not running out of oil, but we are running out of oil that can be produced easily and cheaply. The US Energy Information Administration optimistically projects a 30% increase in oil production between now and 2030 (ref. 2). All of that increase is in the form of unidentified projects — in other words, oil yet to be discovered. Even if production at existing fields miraculously stopped declining, such an increase would require 22 million barrels per day of new oil production by 2030. If realistic declines of 5% per year continue, we would need new fields yielding more than 64 million barrels per day — roughly equivalent to today's total production. In our view, this is very unlikely to happen.

Non-conventional oil won't make up the difference. Production of oil derived from Canada's tar sands — sometimes called the 'oil junkie's last fix' — is expected to reach just 4.7 million barrels per day by 2035 (ref. 6). Production from Venezuela's tar sands is currently less than 2 million barrels per day7, with little prospect of a dramatic increase.

Many believe that coal will be the solution to our energy needs, and will stay cheap for decades. But several recent studies suggest that available coal is less abundant than has been assumed. US coal production peaked in 2002, and world coal-energy production is projected to peak as early as 2025 (ref. 8). Whenever coal-reserve figures are updated, the estimates are usually revised downwards: estimates of world reserves (79% of which are held in the United States, Russia, India, China, Australia and South Africa) were decreased by more than 50% in 2005, to 861 gigatonnes (ref. 9). That study put the ultimate production of coal (the total amount that humanity will be able to extract from the ground) at 1,163 gigatonnes. A 2011 independent estimate of ultimate production came to just 680 gigatonnes (ref. 10), some 40% lower than the 2005 figure and about five times less than assumed by some older, high-coal-consumption scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The US National Research Council's Committee on Coal Research, Technology, and Resource Assessments to Inform Energy Policy noted in 2007 that “present estimates of coal reserves are based upon methods that have not been reviewed or revised since their inception in 1974 ... updated methods indicate that only a small fraction of previously estimated reserves are actually mineable reserves.”11

Natural gas is still abundant and large discoveries have been made recently, notably in Israel and Mozambique last year. Power plants using natural gas provide 25%, and rising, of electricity generation in the United States. Production of conventional natural gas in North America peaked in 2001 (ref. 2), but energy companies have worked hard to promote the idea that hydraulic fracturing of shale rock will lead to 'the age of natural gas'. There is no doubt that US shale-gas resources are immense, but recent reports suggest that both reserves and future production rates have been substantially overstated12. For sites such as the Barnett and Fayetteville shales, where a long production history can be studied, there has been an extremely large annual decline in production rates. Geological consultant Arthur Berman, director of Labyrinth Consulting Services in Sugar Land, Texas, and a world expert on shale gas, has put this decline in the range of 60–90%. For shale-gas wells that are more than five years old, about 30% are sub-commercial because of rapid decline combined with the low price of gas.
Stunted growth

What does this mean for the global economy, which is so closely tied to physical resources? Of the 11 recessions in the United States since the Second World War, 10, including the most recent, were preceded by a spike in oil prices13. It seems clear that it wasn't just the 'credit crunch' that triggered the 2008 recession, but the rarely-talked-about 'oil-price crunch' as well. High energy prices erode family budgets and act as a head wind against economic recovery.

The United States and Europe each spends $1 billion per day on oil imports. The average price of petrol in the United States increased from 75 cents per litre in 2010 to 95 cents per litre in 2011. Because the United States consumes about 1.4 billion litres per day, the nation spent about $280 million a day more on petrol in 2011, leaving less for discretionary items.

“The price of oil is likely to have been a large contributor to the euro crisis in southern Europe.”

Another powerful example of the effect of increasing oil prices can be seen in Italy. In 1999, when Italy adopted the euro, the country's annual trade surplus was $22 billion. Since then, Italy's trade balance has altered dramatically and the country now has a deficit of $36 billion. Although this shift has many causes, including the rise of imports from China, the increase in oil price was the most important. Despite a decrease in imports of 388,000 barrels per day compared with 1999, Italy now spends about $55 billion a year on imported oil, up from $12 billion in 1999. That difference is close to the current annual trade deficit. The price of oil is likely to have been a large contributor to the euro crisis in southern Europe, where countries are completely dependent on foreign oil.

The International Energy Agency has made it very clear that the global economy is at risk when oil prices are greater than $100 per barrel — as they have been in recent years, and will surely continue to be, given the inelastic response of global production.

Historically, there has been a tight link between oil production and global economic growth. If oil production can't grow, the implication is that the economy can't grow either. This is such a frightening prospect that many have simply avoided considering it. The International Monetary Fund, for example, still projects economic growth of 4% of gross domestic product for the next five years: near the top of the historical range since 1980. Yet to achieve that will require either a heroic increase in oil production of 3% per year, increased efficiency of oil use, more energy-efficient growth or rapid substitution of other fuel sources. Economists and politicians continually debate policies that will lead to a return to economic growth. But because they have failed to recognize that the high price of energy is a central problem, they haven't identified the necessary solution: weaning society off fossil fuel.

The UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security and the UK government's Department of Energy and Climate Change are very aware of these risks, and have made a commitment to work together to protect the United Kingdom and its economy from rising oil prices. The task force, formed in 2008, warned that Britain must not be caught out by the oil crunch, and said that policies to address 'peak oil' must be made a priority. In 2011, its chairman, John Miles of architects and design engineers Arup in London, said: “We must define the risks and develop sensible contingency plans. This means thinking critically about what we should be doing now if we knew that the oil price would soar over the next five years.” Such joint industry/federal government recognition of the problem does not exist in the United States, where action has largely been at the state or city level. The UK government has embedded by parliamentary statute a commitment to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. The US Congress has rejected any such commitment.
Faster action

Climate change and changes in fossil-fuel production are generally seen as separate phenomena. But they are closely linked. The risk of fossil-fuel supply limitation should be included when considering the uncertainties of future climate change. The approaches needed for tackling the economic impacts of resource scarcity and climate change are the same: moving away from a dependence on fossil-fuel energy sources. Whereas the implications of climate change have driven only slow policy responses, economic consequences tend to drive shorter-term action. We know from the historical record that when there are oil-price spikes, the economy begins to respond within a year. Governments that fail to plan for the decline in fossil-fuel production will be faced with potentially major blows to their economies even before rising sea levels flood their coasts or crops begin to fail catastrophically.

The solutions are not secret or mysterious. Globally we get 55 × 1018 joules of useful energy from 475 × 1018 joules of primary energy from fossil fuels, biomass and nuclear power plants. The difference is due to energy losses and inefficiencies in the conversion and transmission processes. By increasing the efficiency, we could get the same useful energy by burning less fuel. We need to specify conservation goals for improving the efficiency of use of fossil-fuel energy. These include taxing oil to keep prices high and to encourage a reduction in energy use; encouraging nuclear energy; questioning if and how economic growth can continue without an increase in fossil fuels; lowering speed limits on roads and encouraging public transport; or redirecting tax credits towards renewable-energy development. The transformation will take decades, so we must begin as soon as possible. Emphasizing the short-term economic imperative from oil prices must be enough to push governments into action now.


* References
* Author information
* Comments

1. Hirsch, R. L., Bezdek, R. & Wendling, R. Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management (US Department of Energy, 2005).
* Show context
2. US Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (DOE/EIA, 2011).
* Show context
3. Owen, N. A., Inderwildi, O. R. & King, D. A. Energy Policy 38, 4743–4749 (2010).
* OpenURL
* ISI
* Article
* Show context
4. Cambridge Energy Research Associates Finding the Critical Numbers: What Are the Real Decline Rates for Global Oil Production? (IHS/CERA, 2007).
* Show context
5. International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2008 (IEA, 2008).
* Show context
6. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Report of the Dialogues on the Oil Sands (CAPP, 2011).
* Show context
7. Hirsch, R. L., Bezdek, R. H. & Wendling, R. M. The Impending World Energy Mess: What it is and What it Means to You! (Apogee Prime Press, 2010).
* Show context
8. Energy Watch Group Coal: Resources and Future Production, EWG-Series No. 1/2007 (EWG, 2007).
* Show context
9. World Energy Council 2010 Survey of Energy Resources (WEC, 2010).
* Show context
10. Rutledge, D. Int. J. Coal Geol. 85, 23–33 (2011).
* ChemPort
* OpenURL
* ISI
* Article
* Show context
11. National Research Council Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy (National Academies Press, 2007).
* Show context
12. Hughes, D. Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century? (Post Carbon Institute, 2011).
* Show context
13. Hamilton, J. D. Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007–08. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. 215–259 (2009).


On note aussi au passage :
“The price of oil is likely to have been a large contributor to the euro crisis in southern Europe.”
Les forêts précèdent les hommes, les déserts les suivent.

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Re: Un article de "Nature" sur le pic.

Message par Superus » 08 mars 2012, 16:00

Un autre article de 2010 par la même équipe (je suis en forme aujourd'hui):

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 1510001072

The status of conventional world oil reserves—Hype or cause for concern?

* Nick A. OwenCorresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author,
* Oliver R. Inderwildi,
* David A. King

* Low Carbon Mobility Centre, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

* Received 13 January 2010. Accepted 10 February 2010. Available online 12 March 2010.

* http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2010.02.026, How to Cite or Link Using DOI

*
Permissions & Reprints

Abstract

The status of world oil reserves is a contentious issue, polarised between advocates of peak oil who believe production will soon decline, and major oil companies that say there is enough oil to last for decades.

In reality, much of the disagreement can be resolved through clear definition of the grade, type, and reporting framework used to estimate oil reserve volumes. While there is certainly vast amounts of fossil fuel resources left in the ground, the volume of oil that can be commercially exploited at prices the global economy has become accustomed to is limited and will soon decline. The result is that oil may soon shift from a demand-led market to a supply constrained market.

The capacity to meet the services provided by future liquid fuel demand is contingent upon the rapid and immediate diversification of the liquid fuel mix, the transition to alternative energy carriers where appropriate, and demand side measures such as behavioural change and adaptation. The successful transition to a poly-fuel economy will also be judged on the adequate mitigation of environmental and social costs.
Keywords

* Liquid fuels;
* Peak oil;
* Conventional oil

Select terms and abbreviations

* API, American petroleum institute gravity (141.5/specific gravity—131.5);
* BPSR, BP statistical review;
* Conventional oil, Oil that is less dense than water (above 10° API);
* Gb, giga barrel (one billion barrels);
* Giant oil field, contains 0.5 Gb of 2P conventional oil reserves;
* IEA, international energy outlook;
* Information agencies, organisations that republish data from reporting agencies (some times with small amendments);
* NGL, natural gas liquids, the liquid or liquefied hydrocarbons produced in the manufacture, purification and stabilisation of natural gas;
* OGJ, oil and gas journal;
* OPEC, organisation of the petroleum exporting countries;
* Reporting agencies, organisations that gather oil reserve data from producers;
* Reserves, commercially exploitable oil that is in-situ;
* Super-giant oil field, contains 5 Gb of 2P conventional oil reserves;
* Unconventional oil, oil that is below 10° API;
* Ultimate recoverable reserves (URR), The total volume of reserves expected to be recovered, past and present;
* WEO 2008, world energy outlook 2008;
* WO, world oil;
* 1P, ‘proven reserves+P90’;
* 2P, ‘proven+probable reserves’=P50;
* 3P, ‘proven+probable+possible’=P10

1. Introduction

Fossil fuels have been at the centre of growth and trade since industrialisation re-organised economies for the purpose of manufacturing goods (O'Sullivan and Sheffrin, 2003). In many applications, energy dense crude oil-derived fuels displaced coal and have long since dominated as a transport fuel. In recent years, however, concerns have grown over the environmental consequences of burning large volumes of oil, and whether reserves have the capacity to service growing demand (Alekkett, 2007; Campbell and Laherrere, 1998; Laherrére, 2009a; Robelius, 2007; Sperling and Gordon, 2007; USGAO, 2007).

Here we review the status of conventional crude oil reserves. As crude oil is a finite non-renewable resource, by definition it cannot continue to meet ongoing demand. Of particular interest is the point at which oil production becomes limited by the capacity of extraction technology, causing supply and demand curves to diverge. To determine when this may occur requires access to a number of contentious and inherently uncertain data sets.

Although it is not the intention of this report to discuss motivations for reserve misreporting, it is necessary to investigate ambiguities and sources of error that are broadly acknowledged but not taken into account in public data1 due to the politically sensitive nature of reserve information.

It was found that the failure to report according to guidelines set out by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the World Petroleum Council (WPC) together with intentional false reporting, could go a long way to explaining the polarised views on the status of conventional oil reserves.

Evidence suggests that conventional oil production has a limited capacity to meet growing demand, and most additional demand will have to be met by unconventional sources (IEA, 2008). Unconventional resources are abundant and may meet supply deficits, although the capacity for substitution is also contingent upon the effective mitigation of environmental, social, and technical challenges associated with the production of unconventional resources (Bergerson and Keith, 2006; NEBC, 2006).
2. Literature survey

A literature review reveals that opinion is divided over the volume and grade of oil remaining in reserves. Data available in the public domain originates from surveys conducted by the OGJ and WO magazine, and the OPEC Secretariat (Haider, 2000; Laherrére, 2009a). In general, these sources give more optimistic estimates compared to independent parties that assess reporting methodology. They do not question surveyed reserve estimates, and probably regard such queries as being outside their jurisdiction and politically sensitive; to question them could be interpreted as a diplomatically offensive. For example, data published by the OPEC secretariat has never been subject to independent audit (Simmons, 2007) and is widely considered inaccurate but is still included in public data (Bentley et al., 2007; Campbell and Laherrere, 1998; IEA, 2008; Leggett, 2005).

A second tier of reporting is carried out by information agencies (including IEA, EIA, and BP Statistical Review). In some cases, information agencies acknowledge sources of reporting error described by independent authors as a caveat to published figures. For example, the WEO 2008 stated ‘the world is far from running out of oil; remaining oil and natural gas liquid proven reserves totaled 1200–1300 Gb by the end of 2007 (including about 200 Gb of Canadian oil sands) … though most of this increase has come from revisions made in the 1980s in OPEC countries rather than new discoveries’ (IEA, 2008). In general, information agencies reproduce data referenced from reporting agencies, sometimes with small amendments that attempt to account for different oil grades.

Data on individual fields may also be purchased from scouting companies, such as the IHS. It is generally considered the most accurate by independent authors and academic institutions, and was relied upon by Robelius (2007) from Uppsala University to compile a database of giant oil fields to study production.

A literature survey of independent authors revealed consensus that reserve estimates published by reporting and information agencies are likely to be over-inflated. Publications by separate authors (Alekkett, 2007; Bakhtiari, 2004; de Almeida and Silva, 2009; IEA, 2008; Laherrére, 2009a; Robelius, 2007) were reviewed and showed that on average, conventional oil reserves should be revised downwards to 903 Gb, and production is expected to decline between 2010 and 20152. A summary of published oil reserve estimates is given in Table 1.

Table 1. ‘Proveda’ world oil reserve estimates from select sources and information agencies.
OGJ Jan 2009 WO Year end 2007 IEA WEO 2008 BPSR June 2009 Independent authors
Billion barrels (Gb) 1342b 1184c 1241 1258d 903

a

In this case ‘proved’ is defined as ‘reserves that can be recovered with reasonable certainty from known reservoirs under existing economic conditions’ (EIA, 2009b). Correct reporting protocol also demands that ‘proved’ reserves must be defined by a stipulated probability of achieving estimated volumes, hence the term ‘proved’ in this table is somewhat obscure.
b

Includes tar sands (172.7 Gb), crude oil, condensate.
c

Includes tar sands (4.9 Gb), crude oil, gas condensate, and natural gas liquids.
d

BPSR figure includes tar sands (22 Gb), crude oil, gas condensate, and natural gas liquids.

Full-size table

3. Sources of ambiguity

Ambiguity in public data mostly arises from: (1) a lack of binding international standards to report oil reserve volume and grade (Alekkett, 2007; Bentley et al., 2007; Laherrére, 2009a; Robelius, 2007; Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), 2007); (2) the point at which resources may be classified as commercially exploitable reserves (Hirsch, 2005); (3) intentional mis-reporting to further a financial or political agenda (Alekkett, 2007; IEA, 2008; [27] and [28]; Robelius, 2007; USGAO, 2007); and (4) inherent technical assessment uncertainty (Laherrére, 2009a; Meng and Bentley, 2008; Mitchell, 2004).

The following section discusses the main flaws in reserve reporting. In doing so it defines conventional crude oil grade and best practice reporting methodology.
3.1. A question of cost: resources vs reserves

To address technical assessment uncertainty, the SPE and WPC has set out a best practice oil reserve assessment methodology framework. The framework uses a probability based system that classifies resources into prospective (undiscovered), contingent (sub-commercial), and reserves (commercial) categories (Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), 2007; SPEE et al., 2007). It is significant to note that ‘reserves’ are defined as volumes that are commercially exploitable irrespective of grade, and may include conventional or unconventional oils.

As oil prices rise and extraction technology improves, unconventional resources become reclassified as commercial reserves. This is commonly referred to as the price-reserve relationship (Hirsch, 2005). There is no consistency regarding when reclassification should occur, as evident by the range of estimates given for commercially exploitable Canadian tar sand volumes in the most recent reporting agency estimates that range from 4.9 Gb (WO) to 172.7 Gb (OGJ). These figures represent 20% and 660% of current annual global oil demand, respectively.
3.2. A question of chance: reserves vs production

The SPE and WPC further subdivide reserve estimates into categories that describe the probability of extracting an estimated volume. This system was developed to address inherent evaluation and production uncertainty, and considers three categories: 1P, 2P, and 3P (see selected terms and abbreviations). The number assigned to each category is the probability of successfully producing an estimated volume. For example, proven reserve estimates should be recognised with 90% certainty.

Assuming estimates are accurate, 1P reserves would be expected to be revised upwards over time and 3P reserves downwards to converge at the estimated 2P volume. For this reason, 2P reporting should represent actual reserve volumes most accurately (Bentley et al., 2007; Meng and Bentley, 2008; Mitchell, 2004). Confusion between 1P and 2P data sets is widespread and has fuelled nearly every aspect of the oil reserves debate (Bentley et al., 2007). 1P estimates more closely represent oil that can be extracted using the infrastructure in place, rather than volumes of accessible oil in the ground. For this reason, 1P reporting has given the false illusion that reserves have been increasing when in reality estimates have just been converging at the 2P estimate as expected. The relevance of the ‘2P effect’ on current reserve estimates is shown by using backdated 2P reserve data in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3. To add further complication, some countries report a mixture of 1P, 2P and 3P reserves and data presented in the public domain does not adequately explain discrepancies between reporting methodologies (Alekkett, 2007; EIA, 2009a; IEA, 2008; Laherrére, 2009a). Although information agencies qualify reserves as ‘proven’, such statements lack credibility without specifying the probability of attaining quoted production volumes (Graefe, 2009).
3.3. A question of grade: conventional reserves vs unconventional resources

Conventional oil reserves are the most accessible and least technically challenging to bring into production. In contrast, unconventional oils cease to flow at surface temperatures and pressures (Mommer, 2004) and are not readily recovered because production is capital intensive (Hirsch, 2005) and requires supplementary energy (Brecha, 2008). These factors also increase the carbon footprint of such resources.

To avoid grade ambiguity, conventional oil is defined as oil that is less dense than water (above 10°API) in accordance with Mommer (2004) and [27] and [28] who subtract extra-heavy oil from reserve calculations. This definition includes heavy oil (10–20°API), medium oil (20–30°API), light oil (above 30°API), and condensates (Robelius, 2007). Data from reporting agencies does not distinguish between oil grades according to density and commonly includes a range of ‘conventional liquids’ including extra heavy oil (0–10°API), tar sands, and natural gas liquids (NGLs).
3.4. Intentional mis-reporting and withheld information

Political and financial objectives are known to encourage reserve misreporting. The most well known example of this occurred in the 1980s during the OPEC ‘fight for quotas’. The IEA now acknowledges that misreporting occurred because OPEC countries agreed to set export quotas in proportion to reserve volumes, which provided a strong incentive to inflate reported reserve figures to gain market share (IEA, 2008; Leggett, 2005). Most sources estimate such additions to have contributed between 287 Gb (Campbell and Laherrere, 1998) and 300 Gb (Salameh, 2004) to world oil reserve figures, which is not accounted for in public data.
3.5. Caution: reserve–production ratio (R/P)

Oil field production rates averaged over a large region follow an approximate bell-shaped curve, as first identified by Hubbert who accurately predicted US peak production in 1970 (Deffeyes, 2009), and has since been observed in a large number of post peak fields (Robelius, 2007). Production does not stay constant until resources are exhausted because geological constraints confer a characteristic extended tapering off period.

For this reason statements such as ‘proved oil reserves are sufficient to match production levels for 42 years’ (BP, 2009b) that were made at the June 2009 BP Statistical Review are misleading. With closer consideration it was found this figure was calculated by dividing reserve and production figures given in the same report (BP, 2009a)3. Reserve-production ratios are not sensitive to increasing demand and declining production rates. While the net amount produced over an extended period should reflect reserve estimates, engineers cannot access reserves on demand.
3.6. Caution: contradictory figures

Data in the public domain consistently reports increases in annual reserves despite simultaneously reporting that consumption has exceeded additional discovery volumes of conventional oil. Such discrepancy in reporting is mostly due to the volatile price-reserve relationship described above, and reflects the addition of unconventional sub-commercial resources into reserve estimates. The WEO 2008 states ‘in the last two decades, volume discovered has fallen well below volume produced’ (IEA, 2008), indirectly acknowledging these inconsistencies.

Fig. 1 shows additional 2P conventional oil discoveries less demand, which gives the flux of oil into, or out of, the world conventional oil reserve inventory. Data below the zero flux axis indicates periods of net withdrawal from reserves. This first occurred in 1972 and has consistently occurred since 1980, indicating that conventional oil reserves have been in decline since then.


Image

The turning point of conventional oil reserve status is also illustrated in Fig. 3, together with contrasting public data that shows reserves increasing. Since 2007, the volume produced exceeded volume discovered by a factor of three according to data provided (Laherrére, 2009b), which was used to construct Fig. 1. It should also be noted that the trend is for this relationship to widen.
4. Global oil reserves

Until now, the widening gulf between discoveries and production can be almost entirely attributed to reduced discovery rates as shown in Fig. 2. In the near future, however, this rift could be driven further apart by forecasted declines in production from the relatively few fields that support supply.


Image

World oil reserves are unevenly distributed between 70,000 fields (IEA, 2008). In total 507 fields are classified as ‘giant’ and account for 60% of conventional oil production (Robelius, 2007). The top 110 producing fields constitute over 50% of global supply, the top 20 contribute 27%, and the most productive 10 fields contribute 20% (IEA, 2008).

Of the 507 giant oil fields, 430 are in production (Robelius, 2007) of which 261 are in decline (Höök et al., 2009a). In 2007, production from 16 of the top 20 producing fields was also in terminal decline (IEA, 2008). The average post-peak decline rate of giant fields is critical to determine future productivity, and has been estimated by several studies at 4.5% (CERA, 2008), 5.5% (Höök et al., 2009b), and 6.7% (IEA, 2008). This rate would result in a cumulative gap between BAU demand and declining production rates of approximately 925 Gb over the period 2010 to 2050. The average decline rate for all producing fields was extrapolated from Fig. 4 at 4.07% p.a.

According to the WEO 2008, the world’s 20 most productive fields were discovered in 1959 (IEA, 2008), which suggests that the chance of finding fields of similar size is remote. Fig. 2 shows the peak of conventional oil discovery occurred in the early 1960s. 1948 was the most successful year for discoveries, with finds totaling 107 Gb including the Ghawar field (world’s largest and most productive field ever discovered) in Saudi Arabia. Very few giant oil fields have been found since the early 1980s, and the last of the super-giants was found in the 1960s (Hirsch, 2005).

The following section will examine the status of conventional oil reserves through two independent methods. The first will review backdated 2P conventional oil data, and the second will amend public data to account for speculative and false additions.
4.1. Review of corrected 2P discovery data

The first approach uses corrected 2P conventional oil discovery data provided by Laherrére (2009b). Laherrére used the Hubbert linearisation methodology to forecast a URR of 2000 Gb, which is close to the average found in the literature survey of independent authors of 2030 Gb. This methodology is deemed accurate, though not completely without difficulties, in publications by Bently and Boyle (2008) and Robelius (2007).

The discovered volume of 2P conventional oil is given by the area under the ‘world discoveries’ line in Fig. 2 and totaled approximately 1860 Gb in 2007. If the assumed URR is 2000 Gb, conventional oil discoveries after 2007 should total approximately 140 Gb.

The forecasted production line was constructed using an equal area approximation with the discoveries curve in Fig. 2. Given that the total volume of conventional oil produced to date is approximately 1130 Gb (IEA, 2008) by deduction 870 Gb of conventional oil remains in-situ. As the volume produced exceeds half (55%) the URR, conventional oil production may have already plateaued, although the equal area curve may exhibit an asymmetrical profile allowing for higher production rates before a steeper decline.
4.2. Published reserves less acknowledged error

The second method approximates conventional oil reserves by amending public data to account for reporting inconsistencies acknowledged by the WEO 2008 and independent authors.

Fig. 3 gives a history of cumulative backdated 2P conventional reserve data together with data from the OGJ. OGJ data shows two distinct jumps in reserve estimates in the 1980s and again in 2004. The first reflects false additions during the OPEC fight-for-quotas years (which contributes 287–300 Gb) and the second shows the inclusion of tar sands into reserve estimates. The adjusted line accounts for these false and unconventional additions.


Image

It is important to note that simply accounting for these large distortions in public data does not accommodate detail in reporting error. For example, convergence of 1P estimates to more correct 2P volumes over time explains why the adjusted line incorrectly shows reserves increasing. It does, however, validate present conventional 2P reserve estimations provided by Laherrére (2009a) and average reserve estimates from independent institutions. Table 2 gives amended reserve estimates for values presented in Table 1, which account for these false additions.

Table 2. Amended conventional world oil reserve estimates that account for OPEC false additions and the inclusion of Canadian tar sands.
OGJ Jan 2009 WO Year end 2007 BPSR June 2009 Independent authors Independent authors
Liquids Crude oil, condensate Crude oil, condensate Conv. crudea Conv. crude Conv. crude
Billion barrels (Gb) 882 892 830 903 872

a

This figure was further reduced by 12.5% to account for Natural Gas Liquids according to the WEO 2008.

Full-size table

The two methods presented independently show that 2P conventional world oil reserves should be revised downwards to between 850–900 Gb.

A third method that was developed by Campbell and Heapes (2008) considers oil depletion in the context of production, whereby avoiding the difficulties associated with estimating world URR. Although still subject to uncertainty, it estimates that the peak production of conventional oil passed in 2005, and that the peak of all liquids (excluding gas) will follow around 2010 (Campbell and Heapes, 2008). These results also support the evidence provided in this report.
4.3. Liquid fuels demand and production forecast

Having established that conventional oil reserves are probably less than previously thought, it is necessary to discuss what the future may hold for liquid fuels production. Fig. 4, published by the IEA, shows that the capacity to meet demand is contingent upon rapid and immediate diversification of the liquid fuels mix


Image

Total liquid fuel consumption in 2008 averaged 85.41 Mb/day (IEA, 2008), which is equivalent to 31.2 Gb over the year. Since 1985 consumption has grown at an average rate of 1.42% p.a (BAU) according to EIA figures (EIA, 2009c). At this rate, Fig. 4 shows that by 2030 the world will consume 42.5 Gb per year.

It is expected that almost all additional demand will come from China and India (IEA, 2008) and be met by non-conventional oil, enhanced oil recovery (EOR), and natural gas liquids. However, it remains unclear why the IEA expects near zero demand growth in industrialised countries, especially since previous IEA forecasts predict much higher demand growth.

According to Fig. 4, conventional oil production rates will maintain current capacity (not grow) until 2030, though it is critical to note this is dependent upon the development of known crude oil reserves, the discovery and development of new crude oil fields, and EOR. Conventional oil from producing fields currently constitutes approximately 85% of the global liquid fuel mix and is expected to decline at a rate of 4.07% per year after 2010.

At this rate, current sources of liquid fuel (crude oil from producing fields, non-conventional oil, natural gas liquids) will only have the capacity to service just over 50% of BAU demand by 2020. The implication is that the remaining 50% (approximately 18 Gb) will have to be met by sources that are not in production today.
5. Oil price and future resources

Restricted crude oil production will obviously affect crude oil price. Fig. 5 shows a history of the nominal crude oil price and price adjusted to 2009 dollars. Oil prices reached record highs in both measures in 2008


Image

Prominent price fluctuations in Fig. 5 are labeled. Past surges have been abrupt and commonly reflect a single event; either supply shortages from conflict or deliberate restrictions on production to inflate prices. The most recent price escalation that began in 2002, however, has been more gradual indicating a number of contributing factors. Although speculation in futures markets is likely to have played a significant part (Engdahl, 2008), the speculative bubble experienced recently is superimposed on an upward trend in oil prices due to fundamental demand and supply factors (Soros, 2008).

The WEO 2008 forecasts an oil price of US $200 per barrel by 2030, which is an increase of $135 on the WEO 2007 estimate of $65 per barrel. While such broad predictions give little confidence in quantitative forecasts, all qualitative indicators suggest there will be considerable price rises in the future.

Forecasted price rises are inevitable according to the law of diminishing returns. Although new extraction technologies may delay the period and severity of price increases, there is no escaping the problem of using up a limited non-renewable resources (Taylor, 2008). As prices rise, the business case for developing unconventional, lower grade, resources improves. This is the main reason why Canadian tar sand and deep-sea resources have come into production over the past decade.4 Saving the best (conventional oil) until last works in opposition of the free market, and part of the reason why such resources have come into production is because the best reserves are in rapid decline. Therefore, pursuing oil for energy security is pursuing a policy of diminishing returns–except that the diminished returns are not just economic, but also affect the environmental and energy security pillars of a functioning energy market.

A second school of thought, based on the observation that oil is inextricably linked to global economic activity, should also be considered. It contends that a sustained oil price of greater than $100 per barrel could induce global recession (Rubin, 2009) driving oil prices downwards and paradoxically reducing investment in alternative fuels. The exact price threshold is difficult to estimate, however, as volatile oil prices cannot adequately be described by traditional linear and aggregate economic models (Jones et al., 2004). Rather a systems approach is required to quantify the asymmetrical effects of price fluctuations, with particular emphasis on the physical work it delivers (Ayres and Warr, 2005). Although rising oil prices are associated with a loss of economic growth, declining oil prices tend to have a disproportionally small effect on stimulating growth (Awerbuch and Sauter, 2005; Mork, 1989). Sources of asymmetry derive from inter-sectoral resource reallocation costs (e.g. retraining labour forces, sourcing interchangeable materials), demand composition (demand for durable goods, e.g., large automobiles), and the investment pause effect (e.g. households and firms that defer major investment in the face of uncertainty) (Jones et al., 2004).

The magnitude of a rise in oil price on GDP is described by oil price–GDP elasticity, which is defined as the percentage change in GDP divided by the percentage change in oil price. World average oil price–GDP elasticity is estimated at −0.055 (±0.005) (Awerbuch and Sauter, 2005; Birol, 2004; Jones et al., 2004; Mork et al., 1994). This would mean a 10% rise in oil price would translate to 0.55% GDP loss. Considering that real oil prices are now stable at more than 300% of pre-2000 levels, and forecasted to rise further, absolute losses are significant. Additionally developing economies that rely heavily on imported oil that is often used in inefficient manufacturing processes are characterised by higher oil price–GDP elasticities (Birol, 2004), and will therefore suffer disproportionally more than developed countries from high oil prices.

It follows that effective and co-ordinated international policy mechanisms have to be devised with a tacit understanding of oil price–GDP elasticity in the context of an oil supply constrained economy. Such policies would recognize the business case of reducing consumption, and operate with a sense of urgency to introduce alternative energy carriers and effective demand side measures. Hesitation will risk high oil price induced negative macroeconomic consequences in the future, which will demand even more drastic policy measures to reduce oil-price GDP elasticity. The self regulating relationship between oil price and economic activity will have to be broken to promote investment in alternative fuels and demand side measures, which could complicate and extend the transition away from conventional fuels.
6. Key conclusions

This paper supports the contention held by many independent institutions that conventional oil production may soon go into decline (Alekkett, 2007; Campbell and Laherrere, 1998; IEA, 2008; Laherrére, 2009a; Robelius, 2007; Sperling and Gordon, 2007; USGAO, 2007) and it is likely that the ‘era of plentiful, low cost petroleum is coming to an end’ (Hirsch, 2005). Significant supply challenges in the near future are compounded against a backdrop of rising demand and strengthening environmental policy. Key conclusions include:



The age of cheap liquid fuels is over. A condition of meeting additional demand is to develop unconventional resources, which translates to an increase in the price of petroleum products.


Oil reserve data that is available in the public domain is often contradictory in nature and should be interpreted with caution.


World oil reserve estimates are best described by 2P reporting. This means public reserve figures should be revised downwards from 1150–1350 Gb to 850–900 Gb.


Supply and demand is likely to diverge between 2010 and 2015, unless demand falls in parallel with supply constrained induced recession.


Reserves that provide liquid fuels today will only have the capacity to service just over half of BAU demand by 2023.


The capacity to meet liquid fuel demand is contingent upon the rapid and immediate diversification of the liquid fuel mix, the transition to alternative energy carriers where appropriate, and demand side measures such as behavioural change and adaptation.


The negative effect of oil price on the macro-economy is significant, and should be used to build the business case to invest in alternative energy carriers. Many alternative fuel carriers also present the double dividend of improving energy security (i.e. utilize local resources) and reducing emissions (i.e. electricity, hydrogen).


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* Simmons, M., 2007. Is the world supply of oil and gas peaking? International Petroleum Week
Les forêts précèdent les hommes, les déserts les suivent.

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