Gas prices have mysteriously fallen in recent weeks, reflecting a fall in the price of oil per barrel. To the average consumer, this is a very good thing. However, these low prices are actually misleading–making it seem as though there is a surplus of oil to be had, right? However, barring new evidence to the contrary, that is definitely not the case.
According to BP, a company that still remains one of the top institutional experts on energy, the world’s oil resources are at an all time low. So low in fact that, as noted in a 2013 statistical energy report, the demand for fossil fuels far exceeds the known reserves.There are about 1.69 trillion barrels of proved oil reserves in the world. That may sound like quite a lot, but that much oil is only enough to supply the entire world for the next 53 years.
The prediction of a peak oil event such as the one we have arrived at is not a novel idea. “Peak oil,” the concept that since oil is a finite resource it must inevitably reach its peak and decline, has been around for decades. The idea was championed by American geologist M. King Hubbert who worked for Shell from 1943 to 1964. At the time Hubbert conceived the idea, however, oil reserves were much less than they are now.
Indeed, advances in technology have helped us to find and gain access to oil that was hitherto unavailable. Companies are drilling deeper than ever and using questionable methods like fracking to obtain this dwindling oil. But to what end? As Hubbert pointed out, our fossil fuel resources are finite and will have to come to an end eventually.
Ben Ayliffe of Greenpeace believes these new methods as a sign of desperation and believes that the world should begin preparing for the inevitable end of the oil age. “Exxon’s staggering Arctic investment is proof that the age of easy oil is coming to an end. The oil industry is being pushed into increasingly remote and marginal areas where costs and risks are commensurately higher, and all to chase the last remaining drops of a fuel that causes pollution, corruption, and climate change. You have to ask what it means for global efforts to combat climate change when the world’s biggest oil company is pumping these kinds of sums into the Arctic, a region that’s opening up to exploitation because rising temperatures are causing the ice to retreat. World leaders need to create conditions that would see hundreds of billions invested in clean energy projects instead of frontier oil.”