Many of the world’s oil and gas fields are maturing. And new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract—physically, technically, economically, and politically.
Peak Oil is the point (a point which must exist) at which the amount of oil we can extract declines from year to year. No one disputes that such a point will occur at some point.
Since the ’60s, people have been insisting that it will happen soon. And for a lot of that time, they were wrong.
That quote above (thanks to Joe Trippi) shows that even Chevron is worried that we may be at or past that inflection point. If so, expect bad things to happen.
Energy demand is rising, and will continue to do so. Most energy is from petroleum, and the developing world is just jumping onto the gas guzzler bandwagon, with China and India leading the way. China needs a lot of gas to let 2 billion people drive their cars around (yes, that’s a gross overestimate of the number of cars involved, but a couple billion people in China vs. 350 million in the US is the relevant comparison).
Until recently, OPEC could make the US its bitch by tightening production quotas, and we could lean on countries to exceed the quota and give us a break. Oil is $55/barrel now and won’t go lower, because the producing nations are working close to peak capacity. Maybe they’ll drill some new wells, but short of surprising new discoveries (bigger than ANWR) we basically know how much oil there is and how to get it.
The image here is from the Wikipedia entry on the Hubbert peak.
Even if the projections in that image are wrong, we’re closer to the peak than we want to be, and we have an impending problem, even if production keeps rising. We need to be thinking seriously about new directions, not dicking around with ANWR.