Some excerpts from an editorial in today’s New York Times by Christof Ruhl, chief economist of BP:
Only two or three years ago, consensus was building among pundits that we had reached peak oil, that the fossil fuel industry was in its dotage and that the world would suffer repeated energy price shocks in the transition to a post-fossil fuel economy. Many people in the oil industry were skeptical of this dire prognosis, and the extraordinary recent expansion of unconventional gas and oil production in North America proved the optimists to be correct.
Last year, in BP’s Energy Outlook 2030, we hailed the prospect of North American energy self-sufficiency. With the incentive of high oil prices and the application to oil of drilling techniques mastered for shale gas, we now estimate that tight oil will account for almost half of the 16 million barrel per day increase in the world’s oil output by 2030. Almost two thirds of the new oil will come from the Americas, mainly U.S. tight oil and oil sands from Canada. The United States is likely to surpass Saudi Arabia in daily output very soon, and non-OPEC production will dominate global supply growth over the coming decade.
A surge in shale gas and tight-oil production is transforming our energy landscape. Forecasts of its potential differ widely. What is certain, however, is that our energy future is not wholly at the mercy of geology. The speed at which we can bring this useful resource to market will depend to a great extent on issues that will be decided by our governments, in our parliaments and in our town halls.