The Oil Production Peak: Consequences and Costs


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Oil and its derivatives are essential for our modern life. Photo by [email protected]

The production of oil has not increased since 2005, despite an increase in the demand. This phenomenon, called “Peak Oil”, and its consequences on the price of the oil and for our society, are discussed in a report published in Nature in January 2012.

Oil and Its Importance for Our Society

Petroleum, normally referred to as oil, is essential to modern life in our society.

Oil allows us to use cars and planes, to keep our industries going and our houses warm; this is because the majority of fuels (i.e. gasoline, kerosene, fuel for jet engines) are all derived from oil.

Further to this, the manufacture of other products that are key for our daily lives, such as plastics or pharmaceutical compounds, is based on molecules derived from the processing of the oil.

Oil Production and Demand

For all these different applications, the consumption of oil has been constantly increasing in recent decades. Its production increased accordingly, to match the demand. However, since 2005, there has been a change in the ratio between demand and production for oil, with notable effects on its price and, indirectly, on society as a whole.

A recent article, published in Nature, explains in detail these issues and their implications. The authors are Professor Sir David King , from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (Oxford, UK) and Professor James Murray, from the School of Oceanography of the University of Washington (Seattle, US).

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