To peak or not to peak

The president of Chevron Corp.’s international exploration and production division says the debate over whether the world is running out of oil may be all for naught if companies can’t get to what’s already there.
John Watson just joined a panel discussion of so-called “peak oil,” which is an issue near to the Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ heart. CERA, the host of this week’s conference in Houston, released a report last November that said that while oil won’t last forever, production should increase ove the next quarter-century thanks to technology and unconventional sources that peak oil theorists often discount.
The report challenged theories that a peak and subsequent drop-off in world oil production is immiment or even ongoing.
Watson says the potential peak oil date should be a long way off as companies figure out new ways to squeeze oil out of reservoirs. But he says forces above the ground could leave the world sooner than later.
Those forces include blocked access to oil both in North America and elsewhere, high costs of finding oil and lack of incoming skilled engineers and others to replace the industry’s aging workforce.
Such issues could make the peak oil debate “irrelevant,” in Watsons view:
“Above-round peak oil will trump below-ground peak oil every time.”