Does peak oil mean peak supply or demand?

BP overview 2017Does peak oil mean peak supply or demand?  This is the question raised by the latest BP energy outlook.  BP see oil demand still growing in 2035 despite an enormous increase in the numbers of electric cars.  BP have a reputation for being pessimistic and have consistently understated the rise of renewables.  Other predictions they make are that the rise in energy demand and demand for oil will rise more slowly than historically (although looking at the graphs above this requires a little imagination).  Gas demand will grow faster than oil and coal demand will collapse.  Carbon emissions will slow but still grow.  This is different to what has happened over the last two or three years where despite growth in the world economy emissions have flatlined.  Renewables installation will grow rapidly far faster than all the above.  Other companies involved in the oil and gas industry see peak demand within 5 years (Shell) or “well before 2035″ (Wood Mckenzie).

The question is does peak oil mean peak supply or demand?  If BP are right then Peak oil as a concept in the traditional sense has not gone away but is just sleeping.  BP state that supply will grow by 13Mbd by 2035 most of which comes from OPEC.   They seem to see supply as abundant.  The question is is all this supply all economic and can OPEC really supply all this extra oil making up for reserves which must start declining over the next decade or so?  If the others are right peak oil means peak demand falling before we get to running out of oil and gas.

Of course one big elephant in the room is Trump.  If his mixture of protectionism, relaxation of fuel standards on US built cars and all out support for oil/gas/coal goes full ahead then fossil fuel demand will soar along with prices and we could be back to 2008.


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