Postponing the Peak

Question: You believe that the world will hit peak oil production in 2020. When that happens, what are the implications? 

Fatih Birol: Oil supply and demand can be tightened substantially in the next years to come. The conventional oil supplies may peak around 2020 if we do not discover new oil fields and if the oil demand grows as strong as it has been in the past. If we don’t do anything, if we just sit back and watch, it means if we don’t slow down the oil demand growth. If we don’t invest to find new oil fields we may see much higher prices than we have seen in the past and this could have very bad implications for the global economy, for all the countries in the world, major countries such as the US, China, all European countries, but as well as for the producing countries because oil is one of the major revenue generators. So what we have to do is on one hand we have to invest to find new oil fields. Second, perhaps much more importantly, is to slow down the oil demand growth and we can slow the oil demand growth finding solution to our transportation sector problems. We have to find cars. We have to use cars much more efficiently. We have to look at alternative technologies of cars such as bio fuels or even more importantly, electric cars. Oil sources are there as you said until 2020 and so on, but one day if not 2020, 2030, 2040, one day we will run out of oil. It’s a matter of time. So what we have to do is we have to prepare ourselves for that day and we have to leave oil before oil leaves us. 

Question: What should industry and business be doing to prepare for that day? 

Fatih Birol: Our first task is to postpone the day of peak and to do that we have to invest in oil fields and we have plenty oil mainly in the OPEC countries. In Middle East there is plenty of oil there. We have to see that investment is done in order to explore new oil fields and develop the existing fields. Second, industry and business need to look at the alternative option in the transportation sector. Today, more than 95 percent of the growth in oil demand comes from the transportation sector, namely cars, trucks and jets, so we have to find a way. Industry has to find a way together with the governments to find new modes, new modalities for transportation. This is our first task, to postpone the peak and then if we are well prepared for the day that global oil production goes down we can find solutions to the significant economic challenges we may face. 

Recorded on March 1, 2010

We have to leave oil before oil leaves us, says Fatih Birol.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less