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Author`s name Alex Naumov

Oil Age ends in about 50 years?

The world has enough oil reserves for 42 years at current production rates.

This was announced Thursday in a report of British Petroleum Ltd, Bloomberg.com wrote.

"Fossil fuels will remain the dominant source of energy well into the future", British Petroleum Ltd Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tony Hayward, said at a presentation in London.

Global proved oil reserves fell last year, the first drop since 1998, led by declines in Russia, Norway and China, according to BP Plc.

Oil reserves totaled 1,258 trillion barrels at the end of 2008, compared with a revised 1,261 trillion barrels in 2007, BP said in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy Tuesday.

"Declines in Russia, Norway, China and other countries offset increases in Vietnam, India and Egypt," BP said on its Web site.

BP Ltd and other oil companies are struggling to replace reserves as access to deposits becomes harder, and older fields in places like the UK and Mexico are depleted.

Russia passed a law in 2008 that limits foreign ownership in some of the country's biggest energy and metals deposits.

Middle East countries, which hold 60% of global reserves, restrict access for international companies, novinite.com reports.

However there is a different point of view expressed by The Australian.

“All of that looks pretty encouraging, particularly as last year's ratio of reserves to annual production stood at 42 times. In the simplest terms, that ratio means global conventional oil reserves will last 42 years if production keeps going at current levels and there are no new discoveries.

That's the good news, but on the flipside there's a lot of muttering in the oil industry about some developing nations' tendency to overstate their reserves for political purposes.

Against that, oil extraction technology is improving all the time and the "proved reserves" numbers are meant to refer to oil that is readily extractable by existing methods. In the simplest scenario, drillers can now send wells out horizontally to do a much more thorough job of extracting oil from existing fields than they did, say, 10 years ago.

That's clearly a plus. But back on the negative side, there's a difference between proven reserves and economically extractable reserves, since some deeper fields aren't worth exploiting unless oil is closer to $US80 a barrel than $US30. With the crude price now at the upper end and rising, that will increase the amount of economically recoverable oil. Miners would say it's lowering the cut-off grade.

Conclusion? We won't run out soon and the final date for the Oil Age will be put back further and further as the price rises. Don't bank on the tar sands, meanwhile, since there's another dimension: CO2 emissions. Converting tar sands to oil releases huge amounts of CO2 and there's no current technology available to stop that. Then again, there could be one out there.

All of which suggests we might still be arguing about the end of the Oil Age in 50 years. Let's hope that by then it will all be hypothetical thanks to the development of other energy sources”.

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