The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Global Reserves to Meet Global Demand

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 26, 2015

How Much Oil Does the World Have Left?

Forbes (Clemente) – The short answer to the question posed is … a lot. Or at least way more than many groups and people out there want you to believe. Today, the world is swimming in oil, and prices have been sliced in half over the past year. “Peak oil” theory for production is predicated on the work of legendary geologist M.King Hubbert, who in 1956 employed his now famous/infamous “Hubbert curve” to predict U.S. petroleum production would peak in 1970. For many years he appeared to be correct, but the “shale revolution” is on the verge of proving him premature.

globalFalse pessimistic predictions regarding future oil production dates back to the beginning of the modern oil era in the mid-1850s, and can quickly ensnare the best experts with the most resources available. To illustrate, the Joint Operating Environment 2010 report (“the JOE report”) from the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the leader for the transformation of U.S. military capabilities from 1999-2011, projected a 10 million b/d global supply shortfall for 2015. Now, just five years later, we have a 2-3 million b/d surplus.

The main reason for “being so wrong” about oil’s future availability is the over-reliance on analytical techniques that fail to appreciate petroleum as an economic commodity powered by the constant advance of technology. Many predictions fall short because they too simplistically center on reserve years or the proved recoverable reserves divided by the annual consumption rate. Proved reserves grow over time, however, and estimates of the recoverable resource change as new information is acquired through drilling, production, and technological and managerial development.

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Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.