A landmark study of more than 800 oilfields by Cambridge Energy Research
Associates (Cera) has concluded that rates of decline are only 4.5 per cent
a year, almost half the rate previously believed, leading the consultancy to
conclude that oil output will continue to rise over the next decade.
Peter Jackson, the report's author, said:
"We will be able to grow supply to well over 100million barrels per day by 2017."
Current world oil output is in the region of 85million barrels a day.
The optimistic view of the world's oil resource was also given support by
BP's chief economist, Peter Davies, who dismissed theories of "Peak Oil" as
fallacious. Instead, he gave warning that world oil production would peak as
demand weakened, because of political constraints, including taxation and
government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil, Mr Davies said
that peaks in world production had been wrongly predicted throughout history
but he agreed that oil might peak within a generation "as a result of a
peaking of demand rather than supply".
He said it was inconceivable that oil consumption would be unaffected by
government policies to reduce carbon emissions. "There is a distinct
possibilty that global oil consumption could peak as a result of such
climate policies," Mr Davies said.
Cera analysed the output of 811 oilfields, which produce 19 billion barrels
a year, out of total world output of 32 billion.
Cera reckons that oil output, including unconventional oil, such as tar
sands, could allow oil to peak at much higher levels of as much as 112
million barrels per day, with average rates of more than 100million bpd.
The Cera analysis targeted oilfields producing more than 10,000 barrels a
day of conventional oil and concluded that overall output was declining at a
rate of 4.5 per cent a year and that field decline rates were not
This is much lower than the 7 to 8percent average rate that is generally
assumed in the industry. Typically, Peak Oil theorists believe that the
output of oil reserves can be plotted on a graph as a bell curve, rising to
a peak and then falling rapidly.