In contrast to a widely discussed theory that world oil production will soon reach a peak and go into sharp decline, a new analysis of the subject by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) finds that the remaining global oil resource base is actually 3.74 trillion barrels — three times as large as the 1.2 trillion barrels estimated by the theory’s proponents — and that the “peak oil” argument is based on faulty analysis which could, if accepted, distort critical policy and investment decisions and cloud the debate over the energy future.
“The global resource base of conventional and unconventional oils, including historical production of 1.08 trillion barrels and yet-to-be-produced resources, is 4.82 trillion barrels and likely to grow,” CERA Director of Oil Industry Activity Peter M. Jackson writes in Why the Peak Oil Theory Falls Down: Myths, Legends, and the Future of Oil Resources. The CERA projection is based on the firm’s analysis of fields currently in production and those yet-to-be produced or discovered.
“The ‘peak oil’ theory causes confusion and can lead to inappropriate actions and turn attention away from the real issues,” Jackson observes. “Oil is too critical to the global economy to allow fear to replace careful analysis about the very real challenges with delivering liquid fuels to meet the needs of growing economies. This is a very important debate, and as such it deserves a rational and measured discourse.”
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