The Future of Oil: Geology Versus Technology
34 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013
Date Written: May 2012
We discuss and reconcile two diametrically opposed views concerning the future of world oil production and prices. The geological view expects that physical constraints will dominate the future evolution of oil output and prices. It is supported by the fact that world oil production has plateaued since 2005 despite historically high prices, and that spare capacity has been near historic lows. The technological view of oil expects that higher oil prices must eventually have a decisive effect on oil output, by encouraging technological solutions. It is supported by the fact that high prices have, since 2003, led to upward revisions in production forecasts based on a purely geological view. We present a nonlinear econometric model of the world oil market that encompasses both views. The model performs far better than existing empirical models in forecasting oil prices and oil output out of sample. Its point forecast is for a near doubling of the real price of oil over the coming decade. The error bands are wide, and reflect sharply differing judgments on ultimately recoverable reserves, and on future price elasticities of oil demand and supply.
Keywords: Oil prices, Economic models, External shocks, Oil production, oil supply, oil demand, world oil production, higher oil prices, oil market, output growth, oil shock, world economy, aggregate demand, crude oil, conventional oil, oil and gas, fossil fuels, oil sector, oil reserves, world oil demand, oil industry, world growth, oil shale, oil production forecasts, world output, ecological economics, global supply, price fluctuations, oil recovery, dynamic effects, crude oil market, income elasticities, increased oil prices, oil producers, global oil production, oil price fluctuations, million barrels, energy information administration, oil markets, nonrenewable resources, oil price changes, opec
JEL Classification: C11, C53, Q31, Q32
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