Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image Opinions of oil company executives on peak oil

By Sohbet Karbuz


On July 10, 1985 the President of Shell USA John Bookout gave a speech in San Antonio on “two centuries of fossil fuel energy,” which was later on published in 1989.[2] In his talk he showed a chart showing oil and gas peaking about 2010 and 2015 respectively and declining thereafter.

“[Referring to the Shell Scenarios] Oil supplies seem likely to peak around 2025, and may have fallen considerably below current levels by 2050.” – Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading and a Managing Director of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. 4 February 1998.

“Recently, there has been theories emerging in the world, that highlight the finiteness of petroleum, such as the Peak Oil theory and ones questioning how much longer petroleum will be combusted considering its environmental impacts. …We had better assume that times of cheap oil might have come to an end.” – Haruyuki Niimi, Chairman and CEO, Showa Shell Japan. 24 January 2006.

“On top of concerns about high oil prices now comes the fear that we have reached “peak oil” and that global oil output will start to decline. Have we? If oil has peaked, do we face a future of growing energy shortages, rising prices and international conflict for supplies? No one should underestimate the energy challenge….. My view is that “easy” oil has probably passed its peak. But there are other reserves that are still a long way from their peak. In unconventional oil and gas – resources that are harder to tap – there are plenty of reserves. The oil industry has to explore new frontiers, develop new hydrocarbon energy sources and integrate “CO2 solutions.” – Jeroen Van der Veer, CEO Royal Dutch Shell. 25 January 2006.

“The growth rate of supplies of “easy oil”, conventional oil and natural gas that are relatively easy to extract, will struggle to keep up with accelerating demand. Just when energy demand is surging, many of the world’s conventional oilfields are going into decline. The problem is not the availability of resources as such…..For every barrel of oil or cubic meter of gas that you consume today, to replace that barrel it costs more, so our industry gets a lot more capital intensive per unit all the time.” – Jeroen van der Veer, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell. 25 June 2007.

“When it comes to oil and gas many people ask, Are we running out of oil and gas? The answer is, No. To the peak oil theorists, I would say I agree in part with what peak oil theorists suggest because we are probably past peak oil when it comes to what is defined as easy, conventional oil and gas…..There are very few opportunities to find easy, available oil and gas by conventional means of production. And so we’re going into more expensive, somewhat more costly, somewhat more risky areas …So to the peak oil theorists, I would say that conventional easy oil is peaked but there’s plenty of oil and gas yet to be had and the technology is developing or is already here to make it possible to bring oil sands to market, later to bring oil shale to market through technology…” – John D. Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil America. 31 July 2007.

“In a way [Peak Oil] scarcely matters; what really matters is the gap between gap in production and demand. I don’t know whether there is going to be a peak in world oil production, whether it’s going to plateau and then slowly come down. It could well plateau within next 20 years and I guess I would be surprised if it hadn’t. The thing is that demand is almost certainly going to outstrip availability, for whatever reason, and that is what is going to cause us difficulties. We’re never going to run out of oil, it’s simply going to become too expensive to use as we traditionally have. And that may happen much sooner than we expect.” – Ernest Ronald Oxburgh, former Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading Company. 16 September 2007.

“At Shell, we see the energy challenge as a set of hard truths. The first hard truth is the acceleration of global energy demand. By 2050, the world could be using double or more the amount of energy we use today. The main reasons are population growth and fast economic development in Asia. The second hard truth is that we cannot rely on “easy oil” supplies to meet that demand. By “easy oil” I mean oil and gas that are relatively easy to extract.” – Jeroen Van der Veer, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell. 18 October 2007.

“Peak oil (the theory that oil production worldwide is in an irreversible decline) is still an open question. The National Petroleum Council recently said we are a long way from peaking. You need to look at the assumptions. Easy oil production has peaked.” – John D. Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil America. 7 November 2007.

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