The EIA, unlike the IEA, has been strident in its dismissal of peak oil. But the data that the EIA publishes tells a very different story than the one it wants us to hear. Gail the Actuary has a really good analysis up at the Oil Drum.. The essential message – that crude oil production remains basically flat, as it has since 2005, and that growth in non-crude “liquids” (all those things that have made up for the lack of crude growth in world demand) aren’t growing as fast as desired or predicted.
Among the critical takeways – that unconventional oil production probably will cease to keep pace with demand at some point, and that China will need more imports as it has crossed its peak.
Jeffrey Brown observes that ANE (Available Net Imports, basically the amount of oil available after China’s growing economy has purchased what it needs) is going to fall rapidly and that the AVAILABLE Crude oil depletion rate is already astonishingly high He writes:
Let’s imagine that the total volume of post-2005 oil that would be (A) Net exported from Saudi Arabia; (B) Net exported around the world and (C) Net exported to importers other than China & India are in three big tanks: In tanks A, B & C. The 2005 to 2008 projections, which have been on the optimistic side already, show that these tanks are presently depleted (through 2010) by the following percentages:
Tank A (Saudi Arabia): 34% depleted
Tank B (GNE): 20% depleted
Tank C (ANE): 35% depleted.
In five years.
What’s important about this is that despite the attempt to blame high oil prices on everything on earth from market speculation to lack of drilling to Ann Romney’s hairdo, there are actual fundamentals at play here, and the laws of physics are generally less accomodating than any of us would like.
While the EIA isn’t stepping back from its claims that we’re always going to have all the oil we want, just because we want it to exist so bad, it can’t hide the actual data. Meanwhile, the IEA which has been predicting severe supply constraints for quite a while now has just released a series of graphs showing the impact of high oil prices on the world economy – check them out here. This validates what many peak oil thinkers have been saying for years, and what most of us have already noticed – that high energy prices have a real effect on personal economies.
This doesn’t change the fact that countries like Saudi Arabia still claim vast reserves – but in both 2007 and now, with extraordinarily high oil prices, we have to ask this question – if they COULD extract more crude, why aren’t they, when the economic incentives to do so are so enormous? I’m fairly sure it isn’t because OPEC doesn’t like money.
Meanwhile, both the IEA and the EIA implicitly or explicitly move closer the real conclusion – that oil is peaking and high prices, volatile prices and the instability that accompanies it are here to stay.