A senior economist at HSBC claimed in a recent report that the world’s oil resources are only expected to last five more decades, according to the New York Times. An earlier report from Wikileaks that Saudi Arabia’s peak oil is expected to happen much sooner than thought and desperate measures by mega oil companies corroborate this notion. In the meantime, we can expect a series of “persistent and painful” price hikes in the coming decades.“We’re confident that there are around 50 years of oil left,” Karen Ward, the British bank’s senior global economist, said in an interview on CNBC.
Rising population, particularly in China, are putting huge stresses on oil production. By 2050, HSBC estimates that an additional one billion vehicles on the roads will eat up oil reserves.
Substitutes such as bio-fuels and (heaven forbid) synthetic oils derived from coals might be able to alleviate strain, but will only become viable once oil prices top $150 a barrel.
HSBC believes that the last few decades of oil will have a tremendous impact on economic power, and that power will shift to more oil-wealthy nations. Europe, for example, is not expected to fare well.
Meanwhile, as supplies dwindle, the oil industry is pressing forward with increasingly ruinous projects such as the Canadian tar sands, arctic drilling, dangerous off-shore projects the likes of which led to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, and oil shale drilling.
Referencing the end of oil and our ability to bounce back with renewables, Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute said at a recent speech to Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduates, “in my darker moments I fear that we have already waited too long and that it is already too late.”
He also said, and we agree, that he hopes that is not the case.
More on oil in the Middle East:
image via XcBiker