Global oil and global decline

Written By: - Date published: 9:45 am, March 26th, 2017 - 26 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, International, sustainability - Tags:

Back in 2016, Royal Dutch Shell as the world’s second-largest energy company by market value, shocked everyone by saying that global oil demand would probably peak as quickly as five years. “We’ve long been of the opinion that demand will peak before supply,” Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said. “And that peak may be somewhere between 5 and 15 years hence, and it will be driven by efficiency and substitution, more than offsetting the demand for transport.”

Then the International Energy Agency commented, slightly less pessimistically than Shell, that while it still saw oil demand growing for several decades, there would be major demand falls in areas like power generation, buildings, and passenger cars. They saw a long plateau from 2015 all the way out to 2040.

Last month saw Exxon Mobil slash its proven reserves and with that its future income.

But what’s being prepared this year is the biggie: Saudi Arabia’s Aramco is preparing to sell 5% of its assets to help funds its’ countries’ future social welfare. They were thinking of a total company value of around US$2 trillion. Analysts such as Wood Mackenzie Ltd think more realistically $400 billion. To keep this remaining stable Arabian state stable into the long term, that value difference is a big whoops because it greatly lowers the future returns the state can redistribute.

Further, if peak oil kicks in as alternative fuels and electric cars gain popularity, that future revenue is looking shakier still.

Top oil reserves do not mean stable governments. In estimated barrels:

  • Venezuela: 300.9 billion barrels
  • Saudi Arabia: 261.1 billion
  • Canada: 172.2 billion
  • Iran: 157.8 billion
  • Iraq: 143.1 billion
  • Russia: 102.4 billion
  • Kuwait: 101.5 billion
  • U.A.E.: 97.8 billion
  • U.S.: 55 billion
  • Libya: 48.4 billion

Few countries on that list are in sound political or social health.

Those who have led the march away from oil dependence and towards a stable climate, such as the EU and China, are increasingly the world’s remaining peace-supporting poles. But with many major petro-companies and petro-states alike in stasis or decline, our oil hangover is getting stronger.

The great contest between a sustainable and lower-oil world and a set of declining oil-reliant states and companies is really rumbling.

26 comments on “Global oil and global decline”

    • johnm 1.1

      Of course, the reverse happens as well. If workers become poorer, or debt levels shrink, it becomes harder to buy homes and cars. In this case, commodity prices, including fossil fuel prices, tend to fall. Thus, the problem we saw above in [2] for coal would be likely to happen for oil and natural gas, as well, because the prices of all of the fossil fuels tend to move together. In fact, we know that current oil prices are too low for oil producers. This is the reason why OPEC and other oil producers have cut back on production. Thus, the problem with overproduction for oil seems to be similar to the overproduction problem for coal, just a bit delayed in timing.

      The problem is fundamentally the fact that consumers cannot afford goods made using fossil fuels of any type, if prices actually rise to the level producers need, which tends to be at least five times the 1999 price level. (Note peak price levels compared to 1999 level on Figure 6.) Wages have not risen by a factor of five since 1999, so paying the prices that fossil fuel producers need for profitability and growing production is out of the question. No amount of added debt can hide this problem. (While this reference is to 1999 prices, the issue really goes back much farther, to prices before the price spikes of the 1970s.)

      https://ourfiniteworld.com/2017/01/10/2017-the-year-when-the-world-economy-starts-coming-apart/

      The onshore easy peasy oil to extract peaked in 2005. It’s hard to get oil that’s supporting the world economy now: tar sands, fracking and deep sea oil and oil acquired by invading countries such as Iraq an Libya. The western world is mired in austerity which has reduced demand. The World is finite and we’re probably at the end of growth plus we’re facing problems such as resource exhaustion plus climate change. In the old 20c days producers could make a profit at 20$ a barrel and our economies thrived on that price. Now the hard to get stuff requires at least $100 a barrel otherwise they go bankrupt but at $100 the World economy dies, it can’t handle that high cost!

      The glory bonanza days of the 20c are gone forever, we are all poorer now except the top 5-10% because of deliberate social wealth transfer to the rich policies : neoliberalism

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        +111

        The glory bonanza days of the 20c are gone forever, we are all poorer now except the top 5-10% because of deliberate social wealth transfer to the rich policies : neoliberalism

        QFT

  1. Bearded Git 2

    The above listing is enough for just over 50 years at current usage assuming it can all be extracted.

  2. Draco T Bastard 3

    Few countries on that list are in sound political or social health.

    And the West seems determined to keep them that way as it makes grabbing the oil for themselves a hell of a lot easier.

    Those who have led the march away from oil dependence and towards a stable climate, such as the EU and China, are increasingly the world’s remaining peace-supporting poles.

    A major reason for Muldoon’s Think Big was to move us away from dependence upon imported oil. It’s a pity that no government since has realised the necessity of continuing that move.

    Of course, it’s no longer just a necessity to move away from a dependence upon imported oil but to move away from burning fossil fuels altogether.

  3. rocco siffred 4

    “Few countries on that list are in sound political or social health.”

    Well, if Venezuela is anything to go by, not even having the worlds largest oil reserves can turn Socialism into a worthwhile way of running an economy.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Well, if the capitalists in both Venezuela and the US stopped attacking them they’d fare better.

      • rocco siffred 4.1.1

        I do not think it’s the fault of the US that Venezuela is importing 75,000 barrels a day of fuel. Should the Americans give it to them for free?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1.1

          If the capitalists in both Venezuela and the US stopped attacking them they’d fare better.

          You may notice that this is exactly the same point as DtB made. I reiterated it because your “so-called answer” failed to address the point.

          Try and ignore your amygdala for a moment, eh.

          • rocco siffred 4.1.1.1.1

            “If the capitalists in both Venezuela and the US stopped attacking them they’d fare better.

            You may notice that this is exactly the same point as DtB made. I reiterated it because your “so-called answer” failed to address the point.”

            So the socialist revolution is dependent on the capitalists being nice to them is it? The US seems quite happy to buy their oil, and export back the refined products, do you expect it to be for free?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Do you expect that your strawman bullshit deserves an answer? How’s that Capitalist paradise Somalia working out?

              Name one single Venezuelan left wing policy that has been adopted by the NZ Left, you pathetic loser.

              • Richard McGrath

                You sound completely embittered, OAB. When was your last trip to Somalia and what were your thoughts on the conditions there?

                Interestingly, Somalia’s progress since 1990 has been better than many here might think. From the Somali diaspora comes remittances of USD1b a year, so there must be some confidence in Somali banks and infrastructure being able to function. GDP has risen at 2-4% per annum. It’s not all doom and gloom, and as one commentator noted without government there can be no corruption. There are a couple of summaries on Wikipedia that are worth a read:

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Somalia_(1991%E2%80%932006)
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Somalia

                Yes, they’re not authoritative, but give a hint that things aren’t as bad as many paint it. Do try and keep an open mind.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  *whoosh*

                  “Somalia” is a rhetorical response to “Venezuela”. There are far better metrics for the actual relative outcomes of “socialist” vs. “capitalist” policies.

                  Comparing individual US states, for example. Or NZ governments, but you righties don’t like that particular comparison very much, which is why you have to fall back on “Venezuela”.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.2

          [citation needed]

          How about we try this one:

          Venezuela, 868, 912, 755, 733, 776, 741

  4. greg 5

    western world cant afford an increase in interest rates the whole financial system is saturated in debt . in directly connected to energy. growth to pay down the debt isn’t possible either so all we are left with is money printing and the march towards war.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Pretty much.

      A heap of destruction done so that there’ll be lots of construction later for lots of profits for rich people. Never mind the huge profits for rich people from the manufacture of weapons.

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