Emmanuel Macron says gas prices are providing ‘strong pressure’
The scientists warned that in just 13 years, global oil production could spiral into exponential decline, with oil and gas industries set to collapse over the next three decades. The three French government scientists, Louis Delannoy, Pierre-Yves Longaretti and Emmanuel Prados of the National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (INRIA), published their stark warning in the Elsevier’s Applied Energy journal. They argue this is not because the earth is running out of oil and gas, but that oil and gas industries are using more energy in the process of extracting oil and gas.
They fear this could prompt future global energy shortages and price spikes.
Their warning refers to a concept called ‘Energy Return On Investment’ (EROI).
EROI measures how much energy you use in the process of extracting energy (fossil fuels) that is used for a resource or technology.
They found that 15.5 percent – more than a tenth – of the energy produced from oil globally is already needed to keep on producing additional oil.
And the scientists say that EROI is getting worse.
They said that since the extraction of oil that is easy to get to has slowed down, more energy is being expended to get oil that is difficult to reach.
Macron has been warned that the oil system could collapse
An oil rig in the Sea
The techniques needed to reach that oil, like fracking, are known for releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases.
This speeds up the rate of global warming and sets governments back on their climate targets.
The scientists predict that by 2024, the amount of energy we use for global oil production will soar to 25 percent of energy production.
This means that a quarter of the energy produced from oil just to keep producing that oil.
And by 2050, half of the energy extracted from global oil reserves will need to be put back into new extraction if more oil is to be produced.
The French scientists referred to this problem as “energy cannibalism”.
The problem here is that the more energy we need to extract energy itself, the less energy will be available for other areas of the economy and society.
Oil rig in the North Sea
The scientists argue that this problem also poses a serious threat to current climate targets.
The report says: “We clearly have too much fossil fuels stock to respect ambitious climate targets. “
But Nafeez Ahmed, a journalist, wrote in an article for the Byline Times that giving these fossil fuels too much attention could be catastrophic.
He said: “Hanging on for dear life to the old, dying fossil fuel paradigm is a recipe for civilisational suicide.”
But with renewable energy technologies on the rise, there is hope that the transition away from oil can be made peacefully if they eliminate the demand for oil supplies.
And with new energy policies worldwide demanding that oil stays in the ground, it could signal the end for oil altogether.
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Renewable technology could eliminate the need for oil
Shell UK have backed a Carbon Capture Storage project in the North Sea
But this comes as Boris Johnson has refused to rule out oil and gas exploration projects in the North Sea.
Last year, the Government announced they will allow oil drillers to keep exploring the North Sea for new reserves, despite pledges to cut emissions.
But in an attempt to help the industry, they struck a landmark deal with a joint investment of up to £16bn to help support 40,000 North Sea jobs.
There is also the argument that extracting fossil fuels can be made a greener process.
Shell UK spoke to Sky News earlier this week about the North Sea oil project’s Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology,
This reduces carbon emissions through a three-step process, involving capturing the carbon dioxide used in industrial processes like fracking, compressing it and transporting it underground via pipelines, and then permanently storing it underground.
But given the latest report, if energy is used in the process of extracting oil, as well as using the oil itself for energy, it is difficult to argue that fossil fuels can ever be made completely carbon-free.