World Oil Production Is Rising, With No End in Sight

It may seem hard to believe, but only 15 years ago many of us were talking confidently about “peak oil” — the moment of maximum global oil output after which, with world reserves dwindling, its use would begin an irreversible decline. Then, hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) was introduced and the notion that peak oil had disappeared. Some analysts instead began speaking of “peak oil demand” — a moment, not so far away, when electric vehicle (EV) ownership would be so widespread that the need for petroleum would largely disappearEven though there was still plenty of oil to drill and frack, this was not the case. However, EVs are expected to make up a majority of the 2020 EVs. less than 1%Only 20% of the global light vehicle fleet are expected to reach 2040. Peak-oil demand is still a distant dream, leaving us deeply dependent on the tyranny and perilous consequences of petroleum.

For a perspective, consider that many experts believed that the world’s oil production would reach a maximum of perhaps 2,000 barrels per day in those pre-fracking days. 90 million barrelsIn 2010, the number of barrels dropped to 70-80 million by the end. This means that we would have to convert our transportation systems quickly to electricity. Although it would have caused some disruption initially, we would now be well on our path to green-energy, with far fewer carbon emissions and a slower pace of global warming.

Now compare these hopeful scenarios with the most current data from U.S. Energy Information Administration. The current world oil production is hoveringAt around 100 million barrels per hour and is projected reachBy 2030, there will be 109 million barrels, 117 million in 2040, and an astonishing 126 million in 2050. So much, in other words, for “peak oil” and a swift transition to green energy.

It is still unclear why global oil consumption will reach such high levels. Fracking technology, which allows the extraction of massive shale reserves that were once unaccessible, is a key factor. Here are the demand side, there was (and remains) a worldwide preference — spearheaded by American consumers — for large, gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks. In the developing world, it’s accompanied by an ever-expanding market for diesel-powered trucks and buses. Then there’s the global growth in air travel, sharply increasing the demand for jet fuel. Add to this the tireless efforts of the oil industry. deny climate-change scienceThey also obstruct global efforts for reducing fossil-fuel consumption.

The question now is: What will this worrisome equation mean for our future, starting with the environment.

More oil = More carbon emissions = Rising world temperatures

We all know — at least, those of us who believe in science — that carbon-dioxide emissions are the leading source of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for global warming and the combustion of fossil fuels is responsible for the lion’s share of those CO2 emissions. Scientists have also warned us that, without a sharp and immediate decline in such combustion — aimed at keeping global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era — genuinely catastrophic consequencesIt will be a disaster. Those will include complete desertification in the American West (already suffering from the worst drought in history). 1,200 years) and the flooding of major coastal cities, including New York, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Now consider this: in 2020, oil accounted for more global energy consumption than any other source — approximately 30% — and the EIA projects that, on our present course, it will remain the world’s number-one source of energy, possibly until as late as 2050. Because it’s such a carbon-intensive fuel (though less so than coal), oil was responsible for 34%Global carbon emissions are expected to reach 37% by 2040, with that percentage rising to 37% in 2020. Oil combustion will result in 14.7 million tonnes of heat-trapping GHGs being released to the atmosphere. This will lead to higher average world temperatures.

With CO2 emissions from oil use continuing to rise, there’s zero chance of staying within that 1.5 degrees Celsius limit or of preventing the catastrophic warming of this planet, with all it portends. It’s like this: stunning heatwavesThe experiences this year, from China to India, Europe and the Horn of Africa to Brazil, are only a small glimpse of what lies ahead.

Oil and the War in Ukraine

Heat waves aren’t the only dangerous consequence of our ever-increasing dependence on oil. Oil has always been a key geopolitical factor due to its vital role in transport, industry, agriculture, and transportation. There have, in fact, been scores of wars and internal conflicts over its ownership — and the colossal revenues it generates. The rootsThese disputes are the root cause of most recent conflicts in Middle East. Despite speculation about how peak-oil demand scenarios could theoretically end all that. However, petroleum continues to influence world political as well as military affairs in a crucial way.

Its lasting influence can be seen in the many connections between oil production and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

To begin with, it’s unlikely that Vladimir Putin would have ever been in a position to order the invasion of another well-armed country if Russia weren’t one of the planet’s top oil producers. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the Red Army was in disarray, barely able to end the ethnic insurgency in Chechnya. However, after becoming Russia’s president in 2000, Vladimir Putin imposed state control over much of the nation’s oil and gas industry and used the proceeds from energy exports to financeModernization and rehabilitation of the military. Energy Information Administration reports that revenue from oil and gas production averaged about $2.3 billion. 43% of the Russian government’s total annual revenue between 2011 and 2020. In other words, it allowed Putin’s forces to build up the vast stocks of the guns, tanks, and missiles that it’s been using so mercilessly in Ukraine.

No less important, after his military’s failure to take Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, Putin would certainly have lacked the ability to continue the fight without the cash he receives every day from foreign oil sales. Although Russian petroleum exports have declined somewhat due to Western sanctions imposed after the war began, Moscow has been able to find clients in Asia — notably China and India — willing to buy up its excess crude oil once destined for Europe. Even if Russia is selling that oil at discounted prices, the undiscounted price has risen so sharply since the war began — with Brent crude, the industry standard, soaring from $80 a barrel in early February to $128 a barrel in March — that Russia is making more money now than when its invasion began. According to economists from the Helsinki-based Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, Russia made more money during the first 100 days. earned approximately $60 billion from its oil exports — more than enough to pay for its ongoing military operations in Ukraine.

The 27 EU members have taken further sanctions against Moscow. agreed to ban all tanker-delivered Russian oil by the end of 2022 and cease its pipeline imports by the end of 2023 (a concession to Viktor Orbán of Hungary, which gets most of its crude oil via a Russian pipeline). This would result in a reduction of the $23 billion per month that EU countries have spent on imports. However it could drive global oil prices higher and be a boon to Moscow. Oil will continue to be used to finance the war against Ukraine unless China and India and other non-Western buyers can convince (or force) Russia to stop buying Russian imports.

Oil, Ukraine, and the Global Inflationary Tsunami

The connections between oil and the war in Ukraine don’t end there. They have combined to create a global crisis like none in recent times. Because humanity is so dependent on oil products, any significant increase in oil prices ripples through the global economy, affecting almost every aspect of commerce and industry. Naturally, transportation takes the biggest hit, with all forms of it — from daily commuting to airline travel — becoming ever more costly. And because we’re so thoroughly dependent on oil-powered machines to grow our crops, any increase in the price of oil also automatically translates into increased food costs — a devastating phenomenon now occurringWorldwide, with grave consequences for the poor and the working class.

The price data say it all: Brent crude oil has increased in value from 2015 to 2021 averagedThe price of a barrel is between $50 and $60, which encourages automobile purchases while keeping inflation rates low. Prices started rising a year ago, driven by growing geopolitical tensions, including sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, as well as internal unrest in Libya and Nigeria — all major oil producers. The price of crude oil was only $75 per barrel at the end of 2021. However, once the Ukraine crisis began, the price rose quickly, reaching $100 per barrel on February 14th. Then, the price stabilized at the current rate, which is approximately $115, if such a word can be used in these circumstances. This massive price increase, which has doubled the average from 2015 to 2021, has significantly increased travel and food costs and shipping prices. This only adds to the supply-chain problems that were triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. fuelingAn inflation tsunami.

Inflationary pressures of this type can only cause distress, hardship, and especially for those less wealthy people around the globe. It can also lead to widespread unrest, and public protest. Many people find such hardships to be a temporary inconvenience. compounded by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, which has contributed significantly to rising food prices and increasing starvationIn troubled regions of the globe. In Sri Lanka, for instance, anger over high food and fuel prices combined with disdain for the country’s inept governing elite sparked weeks of mass protests that culminated in the flight and resignation of that country’s president. Other countries have also been rocked by angry protests against high fuel prices and food prices. Ecuador’s capital, Quito, was paralyzed for a week in late June by just such an upheaval, leavingAt least three people have been killed and almost 100 more injured.

As the 2022 congressional elections near, the United States sees rising fuel and food prices as a major liability for President Joe Biden as well as the Democrats. The Republicans clearly recognize this. intend to exploitThe public is angry at the rise in inflation and high gas prices during their campaigns. Biden, who was running for the presidency, promised that climate change would be a top priority. been scouringIn a desperate effort to lower gas prices, he searched the globe for more petroleum resources. He is at home. released 180 million barrels of oil from the national strategic petroleum reserve, a vast underground reservoir created after the “oil shocks” of the 1970s to provide a cushion against a time like this, and lifted environmental regulationsE15, an Ethanol-based blend, is prohibited in summer. This contributes to smog during the warmer months. Abroad, he’s sought to renew contacts with the previously pariah regime of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, once a major oil exporter to the United States. Two senior White House officials met Maduro in March. widely viewedin an effort to restore those exports.

In the most controversial expression of this drive, in July the president traveled to Saudi Arabia — the world’s leading oil exporter — to meet its de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. MBS, as he’s known, was viewedMany, including analysts at Central Intelligence Agency (and). Biden himselfAs the final person responsible for October 2018, murderJamal Khashoggi (a U.S-based Saudi dissident) was killed in Turkey Washington Post columnist.

According to the president, his main motives for meeting MBS were to strengthen regional defenses against Iran and counter Russian or Chinese influence in Middle East. “This trip is about once again positioning America in this region for the future,” he toldReporters in Saudi city Jeddah, July 15th. “We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill.”

But most independent analysts suggest that his primary objective was to secure a Saudi promise to substantially increase that country’s daily oil output — a move they only acceded to after Biden agreed to meet MBS, terminating his pariah status in Washington. According to media accounts, the Saudis did indeed agree to boostThey did not disclose the increase at the same time as their production rate. However, they promised to delay it for several weeks to avoid embarrassing Biden.

Ending the Enduring Tyranny Of Oil

It’s telling that the “climate” president was so willing to meet the Saudi leader to obtain the short-term political benefit of lower gas prices before American voters go to the polls this November. However, oil plays a much larger role in White House calculations. Although the United States no longer relies on Middle Eastern oil imports for a large share of its own energy needs, many of its allies — as well as China — do. The Middle East’s control is still vital from a geopolitical point of view. This is because it was important in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Desert Storm, this country’s first Persian Gulf war, or in 2003, when his son, President George W. Bush, invaded Iraq.

Indeed, the government’s own projections suggestIt is possible that this will change by 2050 (yes, it’s that distant year again!)OPEC’s Middle Eastern members could have a greater share of global crude oil production than they currently do. This helps explain Biden’s comments about not leaving a vacuum in the Middle East “for Russia or China to fill.” The same line of reasoning is bound to shape U.S. policy towards other oil-producing areas, including in West Africa, Latin America, and the offshore regions of Asia.

It doesn’t take much imagination to suggest, then, that oil is likely to play a crucial role in American foreign and domestic policies for years to come, despite the hopes of so many of us that declining petroleum demand would foster a green-energy transition. No doubt Joe Biden had every intention of moving us in that direction when he assumed office, but it’s clear that — thank you, Joe Manchin! — he’s been overpowered by the tyranny of oil. Worse, the people who do the bidding for the fossil-fuel industry, which includes virtually every Republican in Congress are determined to perpetuate this tyranny at any cost to the planet or its inhabitants.

To overcome such a global phalanx oil-industry defenders, it will take far more political power than the environmental camp has been able to muster. To save the planet from an all-too-literal hell on earth and protect the lives of billions of its inhabitants — including every child alive today or to be born in the years to come — petroleum tyranny must be resisted with the same ferocity that anti-abortion forces have employed in their campaign to protect (or so they claim) unborn fetuses. We must, just like them, work tirelessly for the election of like-minded politicians to advance our legislative agenda. Only by fighting for a reduction in carbon emissions today, can we make sure that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren live on a clean, healthy planet.