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The end of oil
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 @ 20:43:18 EDT by vlad

Testimonials A small - but growing - group of experts think world oil production will peak in the next few years, to devastating effect.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer
September 14 2007: 2:50 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- At some point in the near future, worldwide oil production will peak, then decline rapidly, causing depression-like conditions or even the starvation of billions across the globe.



That's the worst-case scenario for subscribers to the "peak oil" theory, who generally believe oil production has either topped out or will do so in the next couple of years.

What follows depends on who one talks to, but predictions run the gamut from the disaster scenario described above to merely oil prices in the $200-a-barrel range while society transitions to other energy sources.

It's not a view held by most industry experts, including the oil companies, the government and most analysts at the financial houses...


But its adherents are growing, and include some fairly well-known names...

Heinberg says world production of regular crude oil actually peaked in May 2005. He also says production in 33 of the 48 largest oil producing countries is in decline, and that global oil discoveries peaked in 1964.

Most importantly, he says reserves in the Middle East, where EIA predicts the bulk of new supply will come from, have been "systematically overstated."

"Everyone just takes their figures at face value," Heinberg said. "But they are national oil companies, they can't be audited."

Instead of production ramping up to 118 million barrels per day, Heinberg sees a plateau over the next few years, then gradual declines beginning in 2010.

By 2015, he says the rate of decline will accelerate as field after field runs dry and few new supplies are found. By 2030, the world could be looking at powering its economy on 30 million barrels a day.

"It's going to be an enormous shock to the global system," said Heinberg. "We're talking something on the order of the Great Depression, perhaps much worse."

As for billions starving to death when crops dependent on fossil fuel-based fertilizers fail en masse, he said, "that's the worst case scenario, but it can't be ruled out."
...

Full story: The end of oil

 
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