Planning for Europe’s Energy Future

Planning for Europe’s Energy Future

Oil prices began to march upward in 2004, a pattern that would last for almost 4 years, slowly breaking all previous records. Even in the wake of the hardest Economic recession of the last 30 years, oil prices are today about four times what they where a decade ago. These continuing high prices have lent credibility to those who for many years have warned about impeding difficulties in continuing the growth in world oil production that has existed for the past two decades. Notable among those giving warning are Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrére [1], Richard Duncan and Walter Youngquist [2] or Kenneth Deffeyes [3] for their oil production forecasts and Ali Bakhtiari [4] for his price predictions.

The constraints to oil production growth have today been acknowledge by most, even by the Industry itself [5], as show by Figure 1. Also notable have been the implicit warnings issued by the IEA, that despite publishing production scenarios that each year match demand, have been vocal in other contexts explaining how unlikely the scenarios are to happen. It’s Chief-Economist, Fatih Birol [6], has been particularly outspoken in this regard.

Peak Oil, as it was named by Colin Campbell, is a pretty palpable reality at this stage, but for Europe reality is bit more intricate. Only one of its states is a net oil exporter, with most meeting their needs fully with imports. International oil trade peaked in 2005 and has entered a permanent decline; moreover, this decline will likely accelerate during the next decade, by 2020 taking away between 1/3 or 1/4 of the volume of oil available in the market in 2005. This has been the main reason behind the high price environment of the past 6 years.



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