NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Oil Production Hasn't Peaked Yet

March 24, 2004

Every year, a new scientific article professes that we are close to an oil shortage and catastrophe. This January, Caltech physics Professor David Goodstein argued that the peak of world production is imminent and that "we can, all too easily, envision a dying civilization, the landscape littered with rusting hulks of SUVs." However, Ronald Bailey (Reason) states that we are facing neither an oil shortage nor an oil catastrophe.

Bailey points out that the world is nowhere close to running out of oil. For example:

  • Henry Linden, a professor of energy and power engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, just published an estimate of eight trillion barrels of oil, gas, and oil sand reserves.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates of worldwide conventional oil resources range from 2.248 trillion barrels to 3.896 trillion barrels.
  • Taking into consideration various scenarios for future energy use, the Energy Information Administration sees oil production peaking anywhere from 2030 to 2075 -- hardly an imminent crisis.

Moreover, there will not be an economic catastrophe when oil production peaks. Bailey argues that markets will create incentives that lead industry to switch from oil to other forms of energy.

Source: Ronald Bailey, "Are We Out of Gas Yet?", February 18, 2004, Reason Foundation.

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