To peak or not to peak, that is the question

Industry leaders Mark Albers (ExxonMobil) and Jeroen van der Veer (Shell) address the ‘big issue.’

Speaking at CERA Week this month, ExxonMobil Senior VP Mark Albers described as a ‘common misconception’ the notion that oil and gas is dwindling fast and that peak production is near. ‘Oil may be finite, but it is far from finished!’ Albers cited USGS estimates that put conventionally recoverable oil at over three trillion barrels. Approximately one trillion barrels have been produced to date. ‘The supply challenge is not due to scarcity.’


Much of the Earth’s remaining oil is held in complex formations, in remote locations, and under harsh conditions. Technology is needed to overcome these challenges and bring these abundant resources to market. Cash is also a requirement. According to the International Energy Agency, a $22 trillion infrastructure investment is needed over the next 25 years.

3 Ts

Meeting the supply challenge requires technology, teamwork and trade—in other words partnerships between international oil companies (IOCs), national oil companies (NOCs) and host governments.

Closed doors

But Albers warned, ‘at a time when we should open doors to trade, resource nationalism closes them. At a time when we should be building bridges of international partnership, resource nationalism builds walls.’


In an article on Shell’s website, Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer offered a different slant. The world is experiencing a step-change in the growth rate of energy demand due to rising population and economic development. After 2015, easily accessible supplies of oil and gas probably will no longer keep up with demand. For van der Veer, the answer is to add other sources of energy to the mix—renewables, more nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels such as oil sands.


By 2100, a radically different energy mix will include solar, wind, hydroelectricity, biofuels and nuclear. Humans will have found ways of dealing with air pollution and greenhouse gases. The question is, will this result in a ‘mad scramble’ as nations rush to secure energy resources for themselves, or in a more orderly ‘blueprint’ scenario with international cooperation on economic development, energy security, and environmental pollution through cross-border cooperation.

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