Is a peak for global oil demand in sight, wonders the Guardian’s Data Blog this morning? Er, no – what might make them think that, you wonder? Answer: a new Greenpeace report called Shifting Sands, which argues that the case for developing tar sands in Canada is rapidly diminishing as oil demand falls. The report pulls together demand forecasts from OPEC and IEA, and argues that on top of the effects of the recession,
“In the longer term, the impact of two key policy instruments adopted in the US and EU are cited as gaining in influence. These are the US Energy Independence and Security Act and the EU Climate and Energy package. These policies, and the fact that there has been a degree of saturation in these markets, have led to the unanimous conclusion among these agencies that oil demand in the OECD has peaked.”
OECD, schm-OECD! They’re beside the point! Let’s remind ourselves of what the last IEA Outlook report actually said:
Global primary demand for oil (excluding biofuels) rises by 1% per year on average [in the report’s Reference Scenario], from 85 million barrels per day in 2007 to 106 mb/d in 2030 … all of the projected increase in world oil demand comes from non-OECD countries.
It is entirely true to point out, as Greenpeace do, that investment in tar sands has fallen off a cliff as oil prices have crashed from $147 last July to their current level of around $60, and that investor uncertainty over future demand is the big driver here.
But to go from there to talking about a peak in world oil demand? I wish.