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The Guardian: Will we run out of oil in our lifetimes?

Colin Campbell is the generally acknowledged world expert on the impending oil crisis and, as he tells it, the instructive point is not when oil runs out, but when it peaks – world per capita production peaked in 1979 and we've been using more than we find consistently since 1981 (currently, we use six barrels for every one that we find).
Oil companies hid this, initially, by under-declaring their fields and resources, to give themselves a buffer for bad years. And then they hid the scarcity with mergers, wherein, as Campbell explains, “Exxon bought Mobil in order to buy their unreported reserves.”
The only company that didn't merge was Shell, which hit financial crisis immediately, got rid of its chairman, and now, Campbell notes: “The new chairman of Shell has said, 'Yes, if we talk about the easily accessible oil, it has peaked. But let's think about the deep water and the polar regions.' ” If we're talking about deep water and polar regions, it seems, essentially the game is up. “For the peak of all kinds of oil together, my best estimate is 2010,” says Campbell. And what really matters is the long decline that follows.
Lord Browne, head of BP, has said that we have enough oil in reserve to support current production for 41 years. This is misleading, however, since “it's absolutely absurd to give the impression that production can continue flat for 41 years and then stop dead”, Campbell says. More likely, it will trickle out over a longer period of time.
At that point, he says, “Either nuclear energy will kick in, some miracle technology will develop and we'll figure out how to use less energy or, as I personally think, this particular moment in history has come to an end… We're at the end of the first half of the age of oil. And we could decline naturally, but, looking at it historically, the Roman Empire didn't gradually rise and gradually decline. It went bust.”
Risk factor: Quite likely.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1742893,00.html

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