Peak Oil Demand: Near or Far?

An article from yesterday’s Washington Post Is peak oil demand just around the corner?” is, in part, a summary of an article that appeared recently in The Economist (“Yesterday’s Fuel”).

Citi recently predicted that world oil demand may peak by 2013 because of increased transport efficiency among other factors.
The Washington Post piece features a discussion with Stanford’s Adam Brandt who is skeptical about predictions of oil demand peak.

Brandt thinks the demand story is more complex because of the rise in unconventional sources for transport fuel including natural gas, biofuels and oil from tar sands, not to mention electric vehicles.

Brandt doubts that auto fuel efficiency will continue to increase has it has in the recent past and sees a potential explosion of transport demand from Asia.  
He further invokes Jevon’s Paradox to suggest that easier and more pleasant driving from Google autonmous vehicles and driving errand outsourcing may in fact increase transport fuel demand.  The past is not necessarily the key to the future.


  • Zeke,

    I think the new debate about peak demand is largely irrelevant since we will hit peak production long before these projections of peak demand.

    The U.S. has been cutting back on consumption by 1.5%/year since early 2005 not because we are becoming either more efficent or more environmentally conscious; we are using less oil because our economy cannot bear the carrying cost at more than $95/barrel Brent.

    This is the topic that the patient doesn’t want to discuss. As a friend of mine says, “When you are squeezed out of the oil import market, you are, by definition, energy independent.”

  • YvesT,

    I fixed the image problem–thanks for pointing that out.

    On your other point, yes, peak demand is a silly idea in my view. I posted the information so people would know what is out there. This seems to be a derivative discussion that somehow assumes that peak production and demand are separate and unrelated entities.


  • Evan

    It is a shame really about the nomenclature of “peak demand” since if considered a bit differently, i.e. “peak demand as constrained by capital, income, and financial limitations” the subject becomes the most compelling and interesting subject component of the whole peak oil discussion. But as currently used peak demand disguises this problem through economic foolishness.

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