It’s what comes up, not what’s there

BP kindly publishes an annual statistical review of world energy from which we can plot the UK’s indigenous oil production and what we consume.

The amounts are in thousands of barrels a day and have to be multiplied by 365 to get an annual view, but nevertheless show declining trends from a peak in production in 1999 and a peak in consumption in 2005. In 1999, when oil was $18 a barrel, 41% of the UK's oil production was exported, while in 2013, when oil was $110 a barrel, 43% of the UK's reduced oil consumption was imported.

Extrapolating the production plot it reaches the x-axis in five years by 2018. The production in 2013 was 866,000 x 365 = 316.1 million barrels, so by taking the area under the plot, the ultimate production is 316.1 x 5/2 = 790 million barrels. So unless this trend can be averted, there is less than a billion barrels of oil left to get.

There may well be 15 to 24 billion barrels of oil “in-place” and new technologies may reach some of it, but a simple analysis suggests that getting more than a billion out is just fantasy.

When oil was cheap we sold our inheritance and we now have to buy an increasing amount now it is dear.

© John Busby 24 August 2014