Fracking and other new drilling techniques can nearly double the available supplies of oil and gas in the next 35 years, according to BP.
In a report published yesterday, the oil major says that this impending glut of hydrocarbons has demolished fears that the world is running out of oil. It acknowledges, however, that the new approach has profound implications for greenhouse gas emissions and for climate change, which only the imposition of a firm price on carbon can restrain.
BP’s Technology Outlook reveals the internal assessment by its scientists on the impact of evolving technologies on the oil and renewable energy industries. The report claims that technological advances, which have enabled the extraction of previously unavailable reserves of oil and gas locked in deep underground geological formations, could boost the world’s proven reserves of oil from 2.9 trillion barrels to 4.8 trillion barrels. That, BP says, is nearly double the cumulative projected global demand of 2.5 trillion barrels of oil up to 2050.
David Eyton, BP’s group head of technology, said: “We are probably nearing the point where potential from additional recovery from discovered reservoirs exceeds the potential for exploration.” He added that with new exploration and technology, the available resources could jump as high as 7.5 trillion barrels.
Mr Eyton said that if all that available oil eventually was used, it could have devastating environmental consequences for the world’s climate. He said the developments meant that a new approach would be needed to stabilise greenhouses gases.
“Without a price on carbon, fossil fuels are fiercely competitive,” Mr Eyton said. “You have to find a way to put a price on carbon, otherwise fossil fuels will keep on winning.”
Taking into account all accessible forms of energy, including nuclear, wind and solar, there are enough resources to meet 20 times what the world will need until 2050, BP says in the report.
Mr Eyton added: “Energy resources are plentiful. Concerns over running out of oil and gas have disappeared.”