Peak Peak Oil?
“Whatever happened to Peak Oil?” is a question being asked by many commentators as we sit on a global oil glut.
We first have to remind ourselves that Peak Oil Theory is not about oil ‘running out’. It is the point where demand outstrips supply. There are implicit assumptions in the theory that demand will keep rising, alternatives will easily not be found, and normal economic supply/demand cycles apply.
The current situation is that demand is stalling and the Saudis are artificially flooding the market in an attempt to kick-start that demand (the House of Saud is facing an existential crisis). But, in the words of one commentator, “no-one is buying it”, so the price has plummeted.
This has kicked off a slew of opinion pieces – many calling into question whether “peak oil demand” is a thing or not. The sceptics rest their case on the fact that oil is not as easy to substitute as, say, coal – usually using US consumption figures, rather than the global picture. However, the unexpected solar boom has shown that energy predictions are often highly conservative.
My view is that it is difficult, nay impossible, to work out what is happening as we are in uncharted territory – it may be 5-10 years before we work out where Peak Oil theory stands in the new world order.