Peak Oil Supply Or Peak Oil Consumption?

'Peak oil' refers to a belief that growing oil demand will outstrip finite oil supplies. Peak U.S. oil consumption is premised on the belief that 2007 marked the peak, population increase notwithstanding, due to efficiency, biofuels and batteries.

"Drivers filled their cars with 371.2 million gallons of petroleum-based gasoline every day in 2007, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It expects that to fall 6.9% to 345.7 million gallons in 2009, as demand at the pump declines and the use of plant-based ethanol increases. Even if usage climbs after the recession ends, it won't exceed 2007 levels, according to EIA forecast.

Demand for all petroleum-based transportation fuels -- gasoline, diesel and jet fuel -- fell 7.1% last year, according to the U.S. EIA. This is the steepest one-year decline since at least 1950, as far back as the federal government has reliable data.

Many industry observers have become convinced the drop in consumption won't reverse even when economic growth resumes. In December, the EIA said gasoline consumption by U.S. drivers had peaked, in part because of growing consumer interest in fuel efficiency.

Exxon believes U.S. fuel demand to keep cars, SUVs and pickups moving will shrink 22% between now and 2030. "We are probably at or very near a peak in terms of light-duty gasoline demand," says Scott Nauman, Exxon's head of energy forecasting.

Skeptics of the notion that gasoline demand has peaked point to a population that is likely to keep growing as Americans have children at roughly the same pace and the flow of immigrants increases. "Anyone who looks at population must think there is going to be some big bird flu if they think we've peaked," says Tom Kloza, chief analyst at Oil Price Information Service, a firm in Wall, N.J., that tracks prices and consumption."

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

Full Story: Oil Industry Braces for Drop in U.S. Thirst for Gasoline

Comments

Comments

Daniel Lerch's picture

peak gasoline consumption is not peak oil

The title and summary paragraph for this piece are incorrect.

The WSJ article referenced here talks about the possibility that gasoline consumption in the U.S. peaked last year. This is an entirely different concept than "peak oil"; this article actually has nothing (directly) to with peak oil.

To correct the intro paragraph:

- 'Peak oil' refers to a belief that growing oil demand will outstrip finite oil supplies.

"Peak oil" is, more correctly, simply the name for the all-time maximum point of oil production. The phenomenon of peak oil suggests that global oil production will not be able to meet rising global oil demand after a certain point (which is a related idea to the original sentence, to be sure, but substantively different).

- Peak U.S. oil consumption is premised on the belief that 2007 marked the peak, population increase notwithstanding, due to efficiency, biofuels and batteries.

The WSJ article referenced here does not discuss U.S. oil consumption but rather U.S. gasoline consumption. U.S. gasoline consumption may or may not have hit its all-time peak in 2007 (we won't know for a few more years), and if it did it would have more to do with the recent economic downturn than with efficiency and developments in biofuels in batteriess.

For more background on peak oil and what the economic downturn means for global oil consumption trends, see these two recent articles:

http://postcarboncities.net/article-planning-dec08
http://postcarboncities.net/blog/daniel-lerch/peak-oil-still-relevant-mo...

Peak Oil is Now

Global crude oil production peaked in 2008and is now declining terminally.

Within a year or two, it is likely that oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand. OPEC cuts could exacerbate the gap between supply and demand and drive prices even higher.

Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, water supply, waste water treatment, and automated building systems.

Documented here:
http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html
http://survivingpeakoil.blogspot.com/

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