OECD/ITF Joint Transport Research Centre Discussion Papers

The International Transport Forum at the OECD is an intergovernmental organisation with 52 member countries. It acts as a strategic think tank for transport policy and organizes an annual summit of ministers. Our work is underpinned by economic research, statistics collection and policy analysis, often undertaken in collaboration with many of the world's leading research figures in academia, business and government. This series of Discussion Papers is intended to disseminate the International Transport Forum’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned.

English, French

Peak Oil and the Evolving Strategies of Oil Importing and Exporting Countries

Facing the Hard Truth about an Import Decline for the OECD countries

Statistical trends of oil intensity from individual countries and groups of countries show that an average increase of GDP of 3% per annum equates to a projected demand for liquids of 101 Million barrels per day (Mbpd) by the year 2030. This analysis shows that this demand cannot be fulfilled by production from current reserves and expected new discoveries. Two models to assess peaks in production of oil are considered: the depletion model (DM), and the giant field model (GFM). The DM model shows Peak Oil (the maximum rate of production) date in the year 2011 with 90 Mbpd. Adding GFM we develop a “Worst Case” scenario of a plateau in production for the next 5 to 7 years at a rate of 84 Mbpd. A more optimistic case in the “Giant High Case” scenario is a peak in 2012 at 94 Mbpd. A less steep increase demand can move the peak to 2018. Both models show an oil production rate of the order of 50 to 60 Mbpd by 2030. The demand for oil from countries that are importers is forecast to increase from current import levels of 50 Mbpd to 80 Mbpd. Saudi Arabia, Russia and Norway, today’s largest oil exporters, will experience a decline in their export volumes of the order of 4 to 6 Mbpd by 2030 because of (what?). The projected shortfall cannot be offset by exports from other regions. In a business-as-usual case, the shortage of fossil fuel liquids for transportation will be substantial by the year 2030. The necessary decisions for the economic transformation required to mitigate this decline in available oil supply should already have been made and efforts to deploy solutions under way. We have climbed high on the “Oil Ladder” and yet we must descend one way or another. It may be too late for a gentle descent, but there may still be time to build a thick crash mat to cushion the fall.


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