IEA World Energy Outlook 2011: ‘we need to invest 10,000,000,000,000 dollars in oil’

IEA World Energy Outlook 2011On Wednesday the International Energy Agency will release the 2011 edition of the World Energy Outlook. Some energy investment figures from the new IEA report have already been made available though – including a proposed 10 trillion dollar investment in oil production, which would be required between now and the year 2035.

The energy figures were made public during a speech by IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol at last week’s G20 summit in Cannes.

Birol states we need such oil investments to meet the world’s growing energy demands [with the side effect of making certain Latin American regimes very happy - and certain Arabian regimes 'still 60 percent' happy].

The average Earthling will have to pay up for the oil production though. Being with 7 billion makes for an easy calculation: 1429 dollars per capita. Of course after that you won’t get any free oil – no matter how high the investments prices at the gas station will keep rising over decades to come.

The 2010 World Energy Outlook

Last year, with the IEA World Energy Outlook 2010 we were happily surprised to see that the IEA still takes the 450 ppm CO2 stabilisation scenario seriously – indeed corresponding with the 2 degrees climate target that world leaders have agreed on multiple times.

Their 450 Scenario states among many other requirements that the global oil demand [or actually oil production] will have to peak no later than the year 2020 – and will have to decline to 81 million barrels per day by 2035.

On Wednesday we hope to discover how these figures have changed, as the IEA seemed pretty concerned earlier this year that we already closing in on peak levels that should not be reached untill 2020.

What is the problem again with not meeting oil demand?

Our own climatic concerns may be interpreted as economic ignorance, but wouldn’t making the 450 Scenario a success be considerably easier if we invested just a little bit less than 10,000,000,000,000 [yes, that’s what 10 trillion looks like] more dollars in oil?

Biofuel investment should amount to 0.3 billion dollars up to 2035, Birol adds – so the big oil alternative would receive just 3 percent as much* money as continued investment in the fossil fuel it is one day supposed to replace. Make this reality and don’t expect that ‘one day’ to come any time soon, or for that matter, any serious energy transition before the year 2035.

[*) Of course the less money one would invest in biofuels, the smaller the incentive to create cheaper and more sustainable newer generation biofuels – derived from algae or crop residue – instead of the whole food crops or forest biomass.]

Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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