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BP’s ‘Peak Oil’ Demand Prediction Falls Flat

BP’s ‘Peak Oil’ Demand Prediction Falls Flat thumbnail

Always mandatory reading, BP just released its Energy Outlook 2019

It has caused quite a stir again this year.

But, this time the commotion that I see surrounds BP’s forecast that the global war on plastics will be the main factor in cutting global oil demand faster than previously expected. As such, for the first time BP’s outlook predicted a “peak” in oil use. At 13 million b/d, global petrochemical feedstock is 13% of total oil demand.

This is part of a growing trend in recent years where BP continues to see “much slower” growth in new oil demand going forward (see Figure).

BP and the oil and gas industry itself, along with major forecasting bodies like the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) and U.S. Department of Energy’s EIA, has continued to come under fire for downplaying the impact that electric vehicles and renewables like wind and solar will have on the world’s consumption of fossil fuels, particularly since new climate policies are also discouraging their usage.

To illustrate, out of nowhere this year’s BP’s forecast boomed the number of electric cars around the world by 30 million to 350 million in 2040. Back in 2017, BP only envisioned 100 million electric cars on the world’s roads in 2035.

Worth considering as well: “War on plastic may do more harm than good, warns think tank.

BP’s forecast for future oil demand has been declining. Source: BP; JTC

Meanwhile, IEA recently reported that it will be those very same petrochemicals that will someday become the largest source of new oil demand, even surpassing transport in the years ahead:

“Petrochemicals are set to account for more than a third of the growth in world oil demand to 2030, and nearly half the growth to 2050, adding nearly 7 million barrels of oil a day by then,” IEA, October 2018

This conclusion from IEA is predicated on the reality that oil is inherently ingrained in pretty much all aspects of our lives, even if those aspects are not immediately obvious in the ways that cars or airplanes are. In fact, perhaps the world’s greatest energy irony is that oil and petrochemicals themselves are integral to renewables, electric cars, and the overall “energy transition” itself:

“Petrochemicals are particularly important given how prevalent they are in everyday products. They are also required to manufacture many parts of the modern energy system, including solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, thermal insulation and electric vehicles,” IEA

From a broader oil use perspective, the truth is that population and income growth are the driving forces behind the demand for energy. The equation is a simple one to remember: more people, making more money, using more energy. As the most vital source of energy in the world, and lacking any sort of significant substitute, the upside for oil is clearly bright.

This is especially true since 6 in every 7 humans living today reside in still developing nations, where oil usage has really just begun. By 2050, the world’s economy will add $85 trillion in real GDP, and the global population will surge 30% to over 10 billion humans.

Potential demand is staggering: “What If India And China Used Natural Gas And Oil Like The U.S.

BP is surely correct in noting that meeting the huge challenge of supplying increasing amounts of energy to a rapidly growing world “will undoubtedly require many forms of energy to play key roles.” Percentage wise, demand for renewables will be the fastest growing, but that is to be expected because they are coming from the smallest baseline.

For example, wind and solar supply just 3% of the world’s energy, versus over 55% oil and gas. And as renewables significantly grow, incremental growth becomes more difficult, particularly since the prospects for wind and solar projects are based on weather factors that are obviously uncontrollable.

Think of it as a young boy hitting his growth spurt years, only sure to slow down and then stop once he hits his college years.

I must note here that BP has drastically underestimated global oil demand before.

For example, in its Energy Outlook 2011, BP predicted global oil demand at 102 million b/d in 2030. Yet, the world could pass that level this year, and if not, surely will in 2020, or a solid decade before BP thought that we would.

Thus, new oil demand has been surging at twice the rate BP has expected.

To me, oil companies foreseeing the peak of oil without any current evidence is “a bit of a European thing,” particularly among the majors themselves that are venturing into more renewables, natural gas, and storage battery investments: “Shell is Wrong: Global Oil Demand Can Only Increase.

The pressure from environmental groups against outwardly being “pro-oil” helps explain why super majors are understandably shying away from taking the position. In contrast, the smaller independent oil and gas producers are quietly marching forward under the very realistic assumption of “more.”

From a public relations standpoint, this all makes sense: the upside to loudly being “pro-oil” is tiny, while the downside is immense: you get called very bad names and accused of “denying science.”

Indeed, for a very long time now, baseline reference scenarios both IEA and EIA have been forecasting indicate very strong increases in global oil demand, pretty much continuously for as far out as they model.

To be sure, however, oil’s rate of growth will obviously vary, and we could even see declining or flat new demand during some years.

But, the general trend for now is clearly upward. For example, despite retaining a highly saturated market, U.S. oil demand has remained “buoyantly very high” over the past 15 years.

And remember that if something ever does happen to lower global oil demand in the absolute sense for any significant amount of time, prices would thereby drop, which would thereby encourage more demand, a never ending conundrum that the anti-oil business continually must confront.

As seen below, in EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2019 released last month, our National Energy Modeling System forecasts that global oil demand stands on very solid footing. More, more, and even more.

Either way, whether it is from me, BP, EIA, or Greenpeace itself, I have learned a very simple truth during my 15-year career in the energy business: one of two things usually happens when you make seriously bold predictions, especially for the longer term.

When the time comes to answer for being wrong, either you are not around to have to respond, or the critics will have forgotten that you ever made the prediction in the first place.

Per EIA, global oil consumption faces non-stop growth. Source: EIA; JTC

 

RealClearEnergy



15 Comments on "BP’s ‘Peak Oil’ Demand Prediction Falls Flat"

  1. Davy on Fri, 22nd Feb 2019 4:11 pm 

    Let’s see how the economy holds up. These extrapolations on average annual unending growth may not hold up. 2019 looks to be a particularly bad year. Otherwise if the economy miraculously stays its course and tech performs its magic then I guess we don’t live on a finite planet. Physics is wrong and cornucopians are right. I am going to continue to doom and prep because I like my world where shit happens.

  2. Outcast_Searcher on Fri, 22nd Feb 2019 9:24 pm 

    Sure Davy. Just because the fast crash doomers are wrong in their predictions pretty much every year (or month in some cases) for the last several decades, no reason they shouldn’t be right for 2019. /s

    Maybe instead of “physics” being wrong, the unending bad assumptions the fast crashers make, like technology never improves, etc. are just dead wrong. Ever think of that?

    By the way — I’m a pessimist, but I think it will take centuries for the system to unwind, just like for the fall of the Roman empire. Not enough effort toward dealing with the train wreck of climate change will be one of the drivers of the problems.

    But endlessly claiming it’s right around the corner and then ALWAYS being wrong is just a waste of your time. Doing it decade after decade is a waste of your life.

  3. makati1 on Fri, 22nd Feb 2019 10:04 pm 

    No, Outcast, you are an optimist. “I think it will take centuries for the system to unwind,…” is pure denial. The collapse is underway and gaining speed daily. All it takes is one glitch and it the house of cards will go crashing down, never to be rebuilt. Not to mention that the human species does not have centuries left to exist. If any make it to 2100, I would be surprised.

    If you don’t see the panic in current events, you are blind. Look at the psychos in DC going mad. People like AOC, Trump and the plethora of other delusional psychos running for the top idiot spot in 2020. Look at a nation so in debt that it can never get out this side of Armageddon, which it is desperately trying to start. No, Outcast, it is you who are wrong.

  4. Free Speech Message Board on Sat, 23rd Feb 2019 2:52 am 

    You know that you are in hell when you live in a police state are not allowed to say it.

  5. Sissyfuss on Sat, 23rd Feb 2019 9:54 am 

    This article is from the pro-growth Bible completely ignoring Limits to. Capitalism cannot let facts get in the way of its prime directive or it all comes smashing down immediately. Extend and pretend as the Grifter demands.

  6. Cloggie on Sat, 23rd Feb 2019 11:00 am 

    Workers in the oil industry should find a new job fast:

    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/23/electric-cars-are-about-to-absolutely-demolish-gasmobiles/

    “Electric Cars Are About To Absolutely Demolish Gasmobiles”

    Oh and mobsters good services will be in demand on flat earth forums.

  7. Davy on Sat, 23rd Feb 2019 12:43 pm 

    One of the unexpectedly soft spots in global oil demand recently has been in Europe.

    To be sure, Europe was never expected to be a major driver of oil demand growth. Consumption has been mostly flat for a long time. However, demand has actually declined year-on-year in the past few months, which suggests a slowdown in the European economy.

    Most glaringly, demand in Germany has fallen significantly. According to Standard Chartered, demand in Germany fell by 302,000 bpd in December compared to a year earlier. That was the tenth consecutive month of an annual decline in consumption in excess of 150,000 bpd.

    In November, Germany seemed to be the only source of fragility. But in December, the weakness popped up in many more European countries. According to Standard Chartered, in December, year-on-year declines in consumption were reported in:

    France (-124,000 bpd)

    Italy (-38,000 bpd)

    the UK (-36,000 bpd)

    the Netherlands (-85,000 bpd)

  8. Davy on Sat, 23rd Feb 2019 4:34 pm 

    Oops, sorry everyone. I forgot the link to my last copy and paste.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-02-22/european-oil-demand-shockingly-weak

  9. Juanpee identity theft on Sat, 23rd Feb 2019 5:21 pm 

    Not Davy

    Davy on Sat, 23rd Feb 2019 4:34 pm

  10. Cloggie on Sun, 24th Feb 2019 5:47 am 

    “To be sure, Europe was never expected to be a major driver of oil demand growth. Consumption has been mostly flat for a long time. However, demand has actually declined year-on-year in the past few months, which suggests a slowdown in the European economy.”

    Dream on. Renewable energy is pushing oil demand down in Europe. For several years ca. 90% of new installed electricity capacity comes from renewables.

  11. Davy on Sun, 24th Feb 2019 6:13 am 

    “Dream on. Renewable energy is pushing oil demand down in Europe.”

    Not for oil delusionist. The Euro economy is clearly in a slowdown per mainstream numbers. Get out of your fantasy agenda and try to be human.

  12. Cloggie on Sun, 24th Feb 2019 6:41 am 

    Europe is doing fine, with public debt receding since 2012, thanks to financial discipline, imposed by Brussels:

    https://goo.gl/images/CC89ip

    The US and a Japan can only dream of that.

  13. Davy on Sun, 24th Feb 2019 7:02 am 

    Europe has the worst global debt problem of all major powers. Its economy is almost in recession and facing a difficult export penalized world ahead. sorry delusionist the world is not bright for euroland

    This is the true picture of euroland:
    https://tinyurl.com/y4cw9u64

  14. Cloggie on Sun, 24th Feb 2019 9:20 am 

    “This is the true picture of euroland:”

    I can google up debt pictures all day:

    https://www.lynalden.com/global-debt/

    Europe is the only area without red flags.

    Or this one, with the US and Japan the worst:

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/63-trillion-of-world-debt-in-one-visualization

  15. Davy on Sun, 24th Feb 2019 9:28 am 

    This is the true picture of euroland:
    https://tinyurl.com/y4cw9u64

    read the article dumbass

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