Futuribles Journal n° 443

Recherche, sciences, techniques - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Société, modes de vie

The Inescapable Decline of Oil: Will the EU Suffer the First Shortages?


For decades now there has been talk of an imminent peaking of the oil supply (so-called ‘peak oil’), yet no massive investment in a changed energy model has ensued. Peak oil has been reached (in 2008, according to the International Energy Agency, though a small upturn was observed in 2018), but the announcement of that fact has barely changed things. It wasn’t so much the prospect of an oil shortage in the very near future as the fight against climate change that finally prompted efforts at energy transition.

As Matthieu Auzanneau, the executive director of the Shift Project, shows here, this decline in oil production seems inescapable, given the state of the reserves and the oil companies’ levels of investment. And it will very probably have serious social, economic and geopolitical consequences, particularly in the countries of Europe, which are highly dependent on external supplies and have still not done enough to develop alternative energy sources. With the decline in oil production following a bell-curve trajectory, there is in fact every chance that it will occur suddenly and massively. It will be pointless then to regret that attention was not paid earlier to forecasts of that decline which date from the mid-1950s, forecasts which geologists deeply involved in the oil sector firmly substantiated as early as 1998…

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