Chart of the Day: Peak Oil

Stuart Staniford passes along a fascinating little finding:

If you go to the executive summary of the 2009 International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook, and search for “peak oil”, your browser will come up empty. The whole subject was so beneath the dignity of a serious energy agency that they didn’t even bother mentioning it.

However, yesterday, the 2010 IEA World Energy Outlook became available. And if you repeat the exercise in that executive summary, you will come upon a section titled:

Will peak oil be a guest or the spectre at the feast?

Followed by an explicit discussion of the whole question. The IEA’s position is summarized in the graph above — conventional crude oil production has already peaked in 2006! Suddenly, the subject of impending peak has gone from not worthy of discussion to in the past already!

So there you have it. Peak (conventional) oil has come and gone — though the IEA does still implausibly think that conventional production will basically plateau for the next 25 years. This is a remarkable coincidence, but I guess it’s progress of a sort. At least peak oil is no longer just a mad conspiracy theory.


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