I meant to post a link to BP's 2007 Statistical Review of World Energy last week but didn't get around to it. BP's Statistical Review is the most widely used estimate of world oil reserves. The annual report is full of much data on the energy industries and it is worth keeping a link in your favorites for future reference.
An article in The Independent, UK., as referenced by Mark C R, points out that some scientists have challenged BP as being to optimistic when it said that it "appears to show that the world still has enough 'proven' reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates."
However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC), say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives.
First let me say that I do not like the term peak oil in that the maximum production is more likely to be set by economics than by reserves constraints. I prefer to say that we are in an era of decreasing reserves of increasingly expensive oil. Second let me say that I believe that the ODAC is likely to be much closer to reality than The Independent's interpretation of BP's data, but no one knows the exact date. However that is like comparing apples to oranges. BP reports the R/P ratio (Reserves/Production ratio) which is not meant to predict the time before peak oil is reached or the time it will take to use up all of our oil reserves for the following reasons:
- It can not be used to predict the peak because the production of oil over time is not linear, but follows a bell shaped curve, as defined by Hubbert, and there is a lot of useful oil that can be produced after peak production is reached.
- We cannot possibly use all of our oil reserves, as some, rather large quantity, will always remain in the ground.
- Using R/P does not account for the steady increase in demand.
- Using the R/P assumes that all reserves are used up before we run out of oil.