The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Peak Oil Dilemma

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 8, 2010

Few issues are as complicated and perplexing as Peak Oil. The study of this concept crosses into several disciplines--geology, sociology, engineering, and physics to name a few--and each is able to address only a part of the global dilemma that could be caused by rapidly dwindling oil supplies.

Presenters representing these disciplines and more discussed their findings on Peak Oil yesterday at the 2010 Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO-USA) in Washington. Although they took different approaches in their research, they arrived at similar conclusions: Demand for oil is rising sharply in developing countries; global oil supplies aren't keeping pace with demand; and the consequences could be dire.

Here are a few of the observations offered by speakers at the ASPO conference:

  • A graduate student presented the results of research showing that since the 1970s, recessions have been preceded by oil price spikes;
  • A geologist unveiled a mathematical model showing the impact of Chinese and Indian demand for oil, saying in essence that China and India are importing 2/5 of the world's net exports today and will import 3/5 by 2015, leaving all other countries to compete for the remaining exports; and
  • At least two speakers cited a February 2010 Department of Defense report that says the world's excess oil production capacity could disappear in 2012, leading to the next oil price shock.

These sobering predictions provide food for thought and lead to important questions about today's energy policies. If these ASPO participants are correct, is this the time for the administration to nearly shutdown new domestic offshore drilling with a deepwater moratorium and permitting delays for shallow-water drilling? Is this the time to threaten to raise taxes on the very companies that could produce more U.S. oil and natural gas?

This nation should be producing more U.S. oil and natural gas for Americans now.

I'll be live tweeting from the ASPO-USA conference again today. You can follow my tweets on my Twitter handle--@janevanryan--or via the @EnergyTomorrow account.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.