Futuribles Journal n° 373

Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

Prospects for Oil and Gas


It was five years ago, in January 2006, that Futuribles devoted a major special issue (no. 315) to energy prospects and the greenhouse effect. That was already a time of great concern about this question and several articles offered analyses of the gloomy prospects for the development of energy resources and the issues around climate change. Among these, an article by Jean Laherrère outlined the prospects for oil resources, showing the extent to which information in this area was disparate, unreliable and even questionable, being often highly political. As one of the more pessimistic writers on the question, Laherrère reminded us of the imminence of “peak oil” (the prelude to a decline in global oil production) and the need to re-think our styles of consumption to adapt to a new age in which, as energy becomes scarcer, it will be increasingly expensive.

Five years later, Jean Laherrère returns to the columns of Futuribles on the occasion of a new special issue on energy and the climate, to update us on the global prospects for oil and gas production. He begins by recalling how politically slanted and unreliable information in this area can be, depending on its source, the units of measurement employed etc. He stresses, too, that in the view of many experts peak oil was reached in 2006 and the situation is currently plateauing, just ahead of a decline in oil production (gradual or sudden, depending on whether measures of economic constraint are implemented). For its part, gas production should peak around 2025-2030. Jean Laherrère specifies what reserves remain, how these are currently exploited and marketed, and the prospects that ensue in the longer term (he also shows how wrong gas-price forecasts have been in the past).

As he stresses, in conclusion, with both oil and gas we must be aware that the world does not have infinite resources and, since the alternatives do not allow us, at the moment, to make up for future energy-resource shortages, it is for individuals to prepare themselves for entering the era of energy sobriety.

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