On theoretical, scientific or ideological grounds …

By John Busby   
10 November 2008

Christof Rühl is chief economist of oil major BP and has given an interview to Euractiv an independent multi-lingual website published in Brussels and circulated widely in the EC Commission and Directorates. His main purpose was to de-bunk the peak oil philosophy (if that is what it is!) for which he has "no reason to accept either on theoretical, scientific or ideological grounds".

However, he ran into a bit of trouble... 

He went to Brussels to present BP's Statistical Review of World Energy 2008, but failed to take cognisance of its figures.

His circumvolutory discourse can be read by reference to the links below, but rather than attempt to follow his reasoning as to why there is "Oil a-plenty" it is simpler to plot the actual figures as they appear in the BP Statistical Review.

The production figures are given as 1000s of barrels per day, which have to multiplied by 365 to get an annual total. To see the top of the production curve 70 million barrels a day is subtracted in the plot of global crude oil production below:

It has to be accepted that the recent fall of 0.2%  is somewhat marginal and could perhaps rise a little in the 2009 Review. Indeed the decrement is well within the limited accuracy of oil statistics reporting, but on theoretical, scientific or ideological grounds it does look like a peak!

Whether OPEC or any other group of exporters can raise or lower production on a short-term basis is immaterial when the actual production over the years is plotted.

Taking into account the lack of substantial new discoveries, which are in their aggregate but a fraction of annual consumption, it is quite likely that the long-awaited peak in oil production has passed!

1) http://www.euractiv.com/en/energy/bp-see-volatility-increase/article-175922

2) http://www.euractiv.com/en/energy/energy-prices-stronger-longer-bp/article-175913

3) http://www.bp.com