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Global oil depletion: A review of the evidence

  • Sorrell, Steve
  • Speirs, Jamie
  • Bentley, Roger
  • Brandt, Adam
  • Miller, Richard

Within the polarised and contentious debate over future oil supply a growing number of commentators are forecasting a near term peak and subsequent decline in production. But although liquid fuels form the foundation of modern industrial economies, the growing debate on 'peak oil' has relatively little influence on energy and climate policy. With this in mind, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has conducted an independent, thorough and systematic review of the evidence, with the aim of establishing the current state of knowledge, identifying key uncertainties and improving consensus. The study focuses upon the physical depletion of conventional oil in the period to 2030 and includes an in-depth literature review, analysis of industry databases and a detailed comparison of global supply forecasts. This Communication summarises the main findings of the UKERC study. A key conclusion is that a peak of conventional oil production before 2030 appears likely and there is a significant risk of a peak before 2020.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
Issue (Month): 9 (September)
Pages: 5290-5295

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:9:p:5290-5295
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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  1. Kaufmann, Robert K. & Shiers, Laura D., 2008. "Alternatives to conventional crude oil: When, how quickly, and market driven?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 405-411, October.
  2. Aleklett, Kjell & Höök, Mikael & Jakobsson, Kristofer & Lardelli, Michael & Snowden, Simon & Söderbergh, Bengt, 2010. "The Peak of the Oil Age - Analyzing the world oil production Reference Scenario in World Energy Outlook 2008," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 1398-1414, March.
  3. McCollum, David & Yang, Christopher, 2009. "Achieving deep reductions in US transport greenhouse gas emissions: Scenario analysis and policy implications," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5580-5596, December.
  4. Bentley, R.W. & Mannan, S.A. & Wheeler, S.J., 2007. "Assessing the date of the global oil peak: The need to use 2P reserves," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 6364-6382, December.
  5. Soderbergh, Bengt & Robelius, Fredrik & Aleklett, Kjell, 2007. "A crash programme scenario for the Canadian oil sands industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 1931-1947, March.
  6. Höök, Mikael & Hirsch, Robert & Aleklett, Kjell, 2009. "Giant oil field decline rates and their influence on world oil production," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2262-2272, June.
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