Accelerating Toward “Peak Oil Demand”

Now even growth engines China and India.

By Dwayne Purvis,

The drumbeat towards peak oil demand is accelerating, but since much of the acceleration is happening outside of the United States, its cadence is muted.

To be clear, the developed world passed peak oil demand a decade ago and has for years been forecast to continue reducing its demand. Increasing demand in industrializing countries, particularly China and India, each with a population tantamount to that of the OECD, slightly overpowers declines in the developed world, and as a result, global demand continues to increase.

In its 2015 World Energy Outlook, the IEA forecast 1.5% y/y increase outside the OECD, -1.2% y/y in the OECD, and an overall growth of 0.5%. Global peak demand will likely occur while developing world demand is still growing. Increased decline in the first world could crest demand, but merely slowing the growth in the rest of the world is the more likely to tip the global balance to plateau then decline.

Demand for oil is dominated by transportation (cars, trucks/trains, planes and boats) and industry (plastics, fertilizers, steam/heat). Passenger vehicles comprise about 25% of global oil demand and thus are the number one target for major emissions reductions. When the IEA released its 2015 World Energy Outlook mentioned above, not a country on the planet had stated plans to ban new sales of oil-fueled cars. In 2016, three European countries outlined plans to end sales of new gasoline and diesel engines. Before the year was over, IEA revised its OECD forecast downward to -1.3% per year.

In 2017 a rash of targets to constrain fossil fuels for cars led Forbes to declare it to be “The Year Europe Got Serious about Killing the Internal Combustion Engine.” In 2018, even more European countries have joined the list, stating their intent to end the sale of new petroleum vehicles at some point between 2030 to 2040. Also this year, the trend has expanded out of Europe to Israel, Costa Rica, and Taiwan, with targets as early as 2021. Over the same three years, 2016 to present, 20 metropolitan areas from these and other countries announced their own plans to end the use (not just sale) of gasoline and/or diesel vehicles, and mostly before or by 2030.

What is more remarkable, China and India, the titans of demand growth, both declared similar intentions in 2017. China announced its study of a plan to end sales and production of oil-burning cars by 2040, and India asserted it wants to end new sales by 2030. The plans are not enforceable as law (yet), either in Asia or in Europe, and electric vehicles currently constitute only a trivial portion (1 to 1.5%) of vehicles in China and India. The discrepancy between target and current reality, though, points less to the improbability of perfection as it does to the political will for progress. And progress alone, not perfection, is sufficient to trigger peak demand and the tectonic shifts that go with it.

Those who wonder if these forecasts are accurate can look to the history of the greening of electricity generation in Europe and China and particularly in India where targets for are being raised as momentum gathers based on technological progress. Similarly, the rash of new entrants and accelerated development of electric cars demonstrates the depth of near-term changes now expected in passenger transportation.

Last month—only a year after China declared its intentions to reduce oil-burning vehicles—the research arm of China National Petroleum Corp issued its own research report on long-term use. It concluded that China’s demand for diesel fuel has already peaked, that its gasoline demand will peak in 2025, and that the country’s oil demand will peak in 2030, far sooner than forecast from a distance by American and European analysts.

Reflecting these trends, though only implicitly, the IEA recently released a major report describing how demand growth to 2030 and 2050 would be driven primarily by demand for petrochemicals, especially plastics, instead of transportation. Petrochemicals make up only 14% of use today but account for 3.2 mb/d of projected demand growth, rising nearly two and half times as fast as transportation, which makes up 56% of current demand. The familiar argument by IEA asserts that China, India, and others will approach the same levels of plastic use as western countries which, they note, use up to 10 times as much per capita. They expect that packaging will account for over a third of plastics consumed.

The dynamics of demand for plastics, too, though, seem to be changing rapidly, especially for “single use” plastics such as packaging. Data in the same IEA report shows that western countries have already begun to curtail their per capita use of plastics, and one could expect that the developing world will pursue the same kinds of policies in the same way as they have with transportation fuels. In fact, the developing world is leading the charge.

While the US has sometimes targeted plastic bags and recently fiddled with banning straws, the EU has proposed (not passed) a ban on a spectrum of single-use plastics. On the other hand, Rwanda was a pioneer in banning plastic bags, and China has now begun enforcing a similar ban. When Europe began talking about a ban, 25 of the 29 states of India had already passed some kind of restriction on single-use plastics.

Then last summer, India’s national government announced its intent to ban all single-use plastics by 2022. China and India don’t want plastic pollution in the water any more than they do combustion pollution in the air, and for those countries, reforms are a matter of public health. While the US has historically collected and interred or exported to China much of its plastic trash, littered plastics in developing countries often breed disease and affect water supplies.

Last month two independent studies predicted peak oil demand in the 2020s—as early as 2023–in the base case. The rapid evolution and s-curve adoption these analysts see as obvious has gotten hardly a nod in the mainstream. Last spring BP’s long-term Statistical Review of World Energy became the first major forecaster to acknowledge explicitly that the increased cadence of evolution in the demand for oil makes predictions difficult.

Since the IEA completely missed the timing of peak oil demand in the developed world, it will be interesting to see whether its annual long-term outlook to be released next month reflects recent developments. It will be even more interesting to see whether anyone takes notice if it does. Meanwhile, news like last month’s UN climate change report continues to build the sense of urgency to protect mankind from climate change. By Dwayne Purvis,

No recovery for the oil industry in Alberta. Read…  Why Is Canadian Crude Selling For Under $25?

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  71 comments for “Accelerating Toward “Peak Oil Demand”

  1. Beverley L Kennedy says:

    It is helpful to get a macro view

  2. Tom Jones says:

    I remember “peak oil” was a big deal in he 1970’s and the thought was we would need energy conservation, solar energy, and back to nature and growing your own food was an alternative to living in a world without oil. This was given credence by two oil embargos by OPEC at the time to raise prices. The next surge in “preppers” came in the 2008 crash. This time it came more from political right than from the political left as the 70’s has been. Electric cars weren’t on the radar in the 1970’s. And when Reagan came into office, he removed Carter’s solar panels from the WH, and it was “let the good times roll…” If we had followed Carter’s framework and carried forward intil now…oil wouldn’t be an issue in the USA plus a lot cleaner environment. But, money was at stake for big oil….so…round and round we go….

    • 2banana says:

      “If we had followed Carter’s framework and carried forward intil now…”

      We would have destroyed the American economy.

      Maybe your desire is to be hungry and freeze in the dark with your kids.

      • Unamused says:

        ->We would have destroyed the American economy.

        Nonsense. Only Big Oil would have suffered, and they deserve it anyway. Everybody else would have escaped their bondage

        How are those petrowars coming along? Still insanely profitable?

      • Paul Schofield says:

        Nonsense, might have gone a long way to saving the planet though. We are looking at total ecological collapse due to runaway climate change very soon. Might change your opinion when everything starts dying around you.

      • Cynic says:

        The hunger and the dark you refer to are coming, I’m afraid, rather sooner than you might wish.

        Industrial civilization on the present scale is not adapted to the ecology of this planet, and the economic system built upon it must also fail.

        Willful profligacy with resources and lack of foresight have bought great comfort for a significant % of the world’s population, for a few more decades; but that time is now passing.

        This is clear to anyone who takes the trouble to view the facts objectively.

        Great party! Now, face the cold and wintry dawn.

    • Howard Fritz says:

      You seem like a nice enough guy Tom Jones but I wasn’t asleep when Operation Eagle Claw, made us the laughing stock of the world besides killing those innocent servicemen. I also remember how when he told us to suck it up and deal with it when the oil crisis hit instead of tightening the bolts on OPEC, and spiraling us toward disaster. I don’t think we’ve ever had such an anemic economy although I did buy a CD at 12% or so I think the details get hazy sometimes.

      • Unamused says:

        Stand down, Fritz. Now that you’ve got Iraq you can take your time with additional conquests. You didn’t really believe that guff about WMDs, did you?

        Did you ever figure out how your oil got under their sand?

  3. Unamused says:

    Oh boy, more global opportunities to short petrostocks. The biosphere will burn off before it hits bottom.

    The first thing you need to know about plastics is to stay upwind of the monomer plants, particularly the oxychlorination reactors.

  4. Howard Fritz says:

    Holy how I haven’t been to in ages, as far as peak oil goes predictions have been going back for years as Tom Jones said, albeit they haven’t materialized much yet. I know that toothless Carter was too weak to defend us, that for sure. Personally, I believe we have had enough oil whereas it starts to deplete for sure alternative will gradually replace it, but still, you show me a battery with the energy density of petrocarbons and don’t start with those the lithium-air batteries which haven’t left the lab.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      This is “peak oil demand,” which is about demand peaking — sort of the opposite of “peak oil,” which was about supply having peaked.

      It’s sometimes helpful to read the articles before commenting.

      • Yellowcake says:

        Whereas we may be nearing “peak oil demand”, what is undoubtably true is that big oil companies have not been replacing their reserves. In fact, if I am not mistaken, spending on new discoveries as it a 10 year low, reserve replacement ratios are at a generational low and resources per field are deteriorating. Oil is an extractive industry – if the majors aren’t discovering and producing more oil, they are going out of business. In other words, we are setting up for a potential major shock to the system.

        • p coyle says:

          have no fear. progress will fix all this up in a jiffy.

        • Paulo says:


          No, you are not mistaken, new oil discoveries are at a whopping 10% of consumption rate.

          Many Peak Oil effects were delayed by money losing Shale. Shale doesn’t make money at $100/bbl price let alone at today’s rates. Now that free money is no longer producing a search for any kind of yield for investors, Shale will have to spend money servicing debt as opposed to just continually borrowing to pay expenses and using investor gambling funds for new wells. It doesn’t happen out of product sales cash flow.

          Peak Demand is another name for the undulating plateau of Peak Oil. Price too high = temporary reductions in consumption. Price drops and people forget until they just don’t have enough money every month. Electric vehicles to the rescue? Not at $30,000-$40,000 per in a sensible interest rate environment. More likely we will see reduced driving, carpooling, transit expansion, and hopefully more walkable cities.

          Me? I live rural and drive less than when we lived in town. Chasing around for stuff just doesn’t happen in our family. Today is a town run day for us and we will make it an enjoyable event. Deposits at the credit union, a new supply of cash, a costco stop, maybe lunch, a walk on the beach with the dog, and the purchase of a new/reconditioned electric motor for my 65 year old Southbend metal lathe. Our house is at 23 degrees with a cheery fire in the Pacific Energy wood stove with an additional 5 years cut and stacked in the woodsheds. It’s all good if a person has prepared, a term often scoffed at and denigrated. $10 gas per gallon, won’t bother us one iota. It’ll hurt, but we just won’t drive much, even less than we do now. Supply constraints/demand effects/lower consumption does not indicate unlimited supplies of a finite resource. It is a kick in the butt for consumers as the ‘good life’ of profligate consuming is proceeding ever downwards, step by step towards a new reality.

        • Maximus Minimus says:

          As an example, take Shell’s abandoning their oil exploration in the Alaskan arctic, after spending 7 billion. Why did Shell start this in cold, dreary, iceberg filled arctic? Because that the last place where new big finds are still imaginable. It’s definitely downhill from here. Luckily gas is still available, but nothing can replace the versatility and energy density of oil.

      • m says:

        Wolf took my thinking right out from under me!! Peak DEMAND. The Global demand for Oil slows.. Interesting to now dig, and understand the drivers for lower demand growth – Electric Cars still need to be charged…

        • Sneaky Pete says:

          “– Electric Cars still need to be charged…”

          Silly. The unicorns will peddle the bikes to turn the turbines.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Electricity is rarely produced from petroleum products (except in a few countries, such as Mexico and Saudi Arabia). In the US, almost all electricity is produced by natural gas, coal, renewables (hydro, solar, wind), and nuclear. So charging electric cars is not impacting the demand for petroleum products.

        • Atu says:

          It’s as Paulo says.

          There is plenty of demand, so peak demand is just an invention – what they are talking is global balance of demand with price offset.

          Last I checked all crude pumped had demand, and if it didn’t then drop prices towards 10$ barrel and it would have – the question of what min price will be accepted by suppliers, nation states before they reduce supply is another story . A poor neighbourhood with a well will accept 10, a highly endebted country like Saudi needs well over 50 to ” work “.

          So the article is partly misleading, and I do not see it include offshoring of manufacturing in its western oil use tally.

        • Atu says:

          “Moreover, since oil prices fell in 2014, US oil demand has begun to grow again and, if prices remain low for the next few years, could potentially exceed its previous peak. Indeed, US gasoline consumption reached its highest ever level in 2016 after falling for much of the previous 10 years.”

          Demand is governed by price/supply above all.

          Future increases in oil supply are not guaranteed, for various reasons.

          The gfc is said by some to be a product of lack of oil supply. You have to work oil price into the global financial and economic ( in terms of real economy and trade ) framework to reach that conclusion.

        • rj says:

          Oil was $10 per barrel 20 years ago, and it’s over $60 today. I think we’re heading toward new highs ($ 150+) within two years. “Peak Demand” is just some libertarian slogan to convince the gullible that geology can be trumped by bloviation.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          That’s one of the more self-contradictory statements I’ve read in while. Watch demand collapse when oil hits $150+…

      • Howard Fritz says:

        Stand down Wolf I was reminiscing about older times, the context is the article is right there in the URL.

      • Tom Jones says:

        I got that you were talking about “demand” but “supply” and “demand” are linked. When demand goes high so does price, and and when prices get high enough shortages can follow. Gas doubled in price twice rapidly in 1970’s and we had gas lines and alternate days to buy gas. Did the world have less gas or oil then than is does now? Probably the world is NOT going to run out of oil, but as prices rise, it will out of necessity, be used for less and less things. Environmental factor is another issue connected to “peak demand”.

      • I can make the semantic case that “peak” means elevated, not declining.

  5. andy says:

    We did hit peak fresh water millions of years ago, only downhill from then on.

    • Unamused says:

      The market for water you can use without adverse side effects is a major growth industry. And they’re getting lots of help from other industries to reduce supply and jack up prices while the monopolies get positioned. Is this a great country or what?

      Someday soon the wars will be over water like they are today with oil. California and Arizona are finishing up the saber-rattling stage already, but everybody can join in. The projections may appear to be unbelievably horrific, especially about China and India, but I’m pretty confident about the data.

      • RepubAnon says:

        There’s an old saying in California: whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting.

  6. Future Historian says:

    It just seems intuitively obvious to me that spending money is roughly equivalent to destroying the environment, so the idea that you can spend a large sum of money on a hybrid or electric car and be helping the environment at the same time is pure hypocrisy. Even if the Prius runs well saves on gas in the city, what happens to the money that you paid for it? It encourages more economic activity, which causes more pollution. The mid-nineties Corollas and Camrys were already efficient enough to get 40-45mpg in both city and freeway driving scenarios and they have engines and transmissions that often last 400-500 thousand miles. Given the direction in which new technology is heading, I find it hard to believe that once they stop producing oil-fueled cars, they will have a more efficient, less polluting alternative, keeping in mind that an extra $5000 you spend or maintenance and repairs means $5000 worth of additional economic activity.

  7. Kasadour says:

    A concept known as “demand destruction” is a downward shift on the demand curve caused by price threshold on the low end of ~ $70-$80 bbl, thus demonstrating how economic activity/productivity is directly linked to cheap oil. The higher the cost, the more demand is destroyed, and that’s true of any commodity. Demand will be completely wiped out when return on investment reaches 1:1. It’s interesting that the investment on oil produced from fracking exceeds this ratio but that’s only temporarily possible because of the debt markets and easy FED money. Just wait until oil permanalty prices above $100 bbl and we’ll see true peak demand.

  8. Nicko2 says:

    In addition to cheaper renewables, Developing economies are transitioning to Natural Gas….more plentiful than oil and cleaner burning.

    • Cynic says:

      ‘Renewables’ are no such thing, and are in any case nothing but an extension of fossil fuels. And highly polluting.

      Gas will provide a brief respite, for some, but is in no way the foundation of the future.

      • DV says:

        Since fusion is not yet in sight, I wonder how fast people will get back to nuclear.

      • If only there were a way to harness the energy I waste disputing solar-deniers and fusion fans (but not solar fusion! Yuck! Only the kind that is expensive, complex and easily monopolized!). Now there’s an untapped energy pool!

  9. Cynic says:

    ‘Peak oil demand’ is, quite obviously, a delusional meme.

    Rather like ‘de-coupling’ economic growth from energy.

    The economy is nothing but the consumption of energy.

    The window in which our civilization could function and grow is closing, rather rapidly, and it would be better to face up to that fact than tell ourselves fairytales.

    • nearlynapping says:

      Peak homo sapiens?

      • polecat says:

        Homo postpetroliensis

        There will be some to survive the coming series of ‘bottle-necks’… Yes, I’m an evolutionary optimist.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “Delusional”? Who is? Just look at the data.

      The chart below shows the demand for petroleum and petroleum products in the US, annually. In 2017, the total was 19.96 million barrels per day. Down 3.5% from 2007 (20.68 mbd), which was a decade earlier, and down 3.5% from 2006, and 2005, and down from … in fact it was about flat with 2002 level — 15 years earlier! Here is the chart by the EIA. I added the red line:

      • a reader says:

        That’s a revealing chart: to my eye it shows that the real growth stopped ca.1998, and from there on it’s been endless attempts at “stimulating” the growth through money creation.

        And what have got for that trouble? A set of ever-bigger bubbles, mostly enriching the money creators and friends.

        • sevensec says:

          Interestingly, the same is true not just of US petroleum use, but primary energy consumption in general:

          What is going on? Is the USA indeed “decoupling”, or just stagnating, perhaps feasting on debt while pretending to progress? Or is it that we have continued to use more energy, but effectively offshored that usage by having our stuff made in other countries?

          (Worldwide, last I heard, energy use and CO2 output was still most decidedly expanding.)

    • Gunther says:

      Technical progress has led to reduced energy consumption while providing the same result.
      Car engines get better mileage, a well insulated house use less energy and isore comfortable and so on.
      Sometimes the improvements get eaten away by making cars or houses bigger while keeping the consumption the same.

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      Cheap energy fueled civilization/population boom is just a blip in the history of mankind. Arctic moles can teach a lesson what happens after.

    • The economy is more than just the consumption of energy! That’s just a side-effect of the main feature, which is the CONVERSION of energy into hysteria, social psychology, ponzi schemes, trinkets and plague blankets.

      • Cynic says:

        Amusing: yes, we have used the (very short-lived, historically viewed) fossil fuel boom to create one of the most delusional and neurotic even trivial, civilizations ever seen.

  10. interesting says:

    I’ve grown tired of the doom porn. I went into recession in Q4 2014, a little bump since Trump AND it seems to me it’s back. If the democrats don’t win the midterms Trump gets 100% of the blame for the everything bubble bursting.

    And then what? Short answer, nothing good.

    The work has fallen off a cliff…….just like Q3, 2014….at least to me.

  11. DV says:

    Interesting, but we have been also told about “peak coal” and it is still peaking.

    “Peak oil demand” in the industrialized world have to do with demographics (populations not growing, but aging), de-industrialization (most of the fuel-intensive industries were off-shored) and, bingo!, global warming (less fuel needed for heating), rather than with the conservation efforts.

    But we need to look at the bigger picture. The number of cars on the world’s roads is predicted to grow from about 1.5 billion now to some 2 billion within 10 years or so. Most of them are not going to be ‘electric’. The air travel is expected to double pretty soon. The global seaborne trade is likely to grow further as well. New applications emerge for hydrocarbons – such as composites and even food production. Road construction around the world will need a lot of bitumen. Construction and mining will be developing fast as well. Internet-based trade will require more and more fuel to move good around.

    So the question really is what peaks first – supply or demand?

    On the supply side it was predicted that the world will not be able to produce more than 106 bpd (although it is questionable). The current level is 96 bpd and just above 100 bpd for all liquid fuels (that is apparently close to the demand). If the demand for liquid fuels continues to grow by modest 1.5% (that is less than the population growth), in ten years it will hit be close to 120 bpd.

    Which countries can still increase oil production – it is Iraq, Brazil and UAE, Canada, Kazakhstan. Iran and Venezuela have the potential, but are prevented from doing so. Russia and US – probably… Maybe Argentina to some extent. All other producers, including Algeria, Mexico, Norway, UK, Nigeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia and India, some Gulf states and smaller producers are likely to lose production. The picture does not look good on the supply supply.

    So the real question now is not peak oil demand, but rather how to prevent that demand from growing too much. And to do that, prices should stay relatively high to promote conservation, alternative fuel use, development of renewables and everything else that would keep the demand outpacing supply by a huge margin.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Look at the data before inventing your own theories or posting oil-troll nonsense. So look at the chart above that I posted about US demand for petroleum and petroleum products. 2017 was down from 2007 (a decade ago) and flat with 2002!

      The decline is even more pronounced in Europe and Japan.

      • Timthetiny says:

        Understand that global oil demand in percentage terms is growing at the same rate is has been for the last half century before posting cherry picked data perhaps? Using the most oil saturated country on the planet as opposed to the other 5 billion people who dont even have air travel or cars yet is disingenuous at best.

        I could as easily claim that your picture of US demand shows that no matter our strides in efficiency, we find so many new uses for the stuff that our demand is completely unaltered by those gains in efficiency.

        Oil and gas demand is increasing approximately 3 million boe/d annually. If it plateaus by the middle of next decade and begins declining thereafter, we will still be using 100mmbopd + another 100 mmboe/d of gas in 2040.

        We have added more demand than the entire production of Iran and Iraq combined in the last 6-7 years alone. At current rates of growth, which have not begun to decline on a global basis (the only basis that matters), we will add another Saudi Arabia equivalent to demand by the time we hit the theorized peak demand in 2025 (if we even do peak there).

        Those of us in the industry understand that the current risks are skewed to the supply side as opposed to the demand side.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “Those of us in the industry understand that the current risks are skewed to the supply side as opposed to the demand side.”

          Wishful thinking, because your pay, stock options, and bonus depend on it.

  12. Hugs says:

    Oil embargo didn’t exist. People in the know call it 1973 oil crisis. Ended when a Saudi Minister stated that they tried to get an embargo going but couldn’t get it organized. Gas stations quit rationing the next day. Fake news and market manipulation. Aided and abetted by deep state.
    The trend is that people use their smart phones/computers instead of cars. Foretold by Science Fiction.
    …The Naked Sun is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, the second in his … Baley’s first encounter with Gladia is through viewing, at which point he discovers that Solarians have no taboo about nudity when viewing, though …

  13. Augusto says:

    Electric Cars are far behind gasoline powered vehicles. There are a lot of reasons for this. I don’t really see the electric technologies breaking out, and have no clue how they can predict 2030 or 40. In science there are limits, even for electric vehicles, and we don’t live in comic book world where fantasy trumps reality. We could incorporate more electric vehicles in our daily lives, but this involves targeted action, and pain, rather than the broad brush hidden tax/regulation approach that current climate change policy pushes.

  14. Raul Caldevilla says:

    The problem with these forecasts is that they assume that alternative energies can replace the demand for oil, so they predict less oil consumption but with higher energy consumption in general, and the economy just keeps growing. The demand for oil is going to be affected by a problem of EROI, every year the energy performance of extracted oil decreases, which means that even if a single barrel can cost the same, or even less, the products we consume and that require oil as a raw material are going to be relatively more expensive, because that same barrel will contribute less net energy, so we are going to extract more oil for the same work; that added to the situation of the financial system and the enormous debt burden on the economy at all levels is what will cause a decrease in the demand for oil, it’s going to be relatively expensive for average people, so consumption will decrease, not that we have other viable alternatives as sources of energy to keep business as usual. A dark panorama for the next decades.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “The problem with these forecasts is that they assume that alternative energies can replace the demand for oil…”

      In developed countries, consumption of petroleum and petroleum products has been declining for over a decade. This is not one of “these forecasts” but just historic data. Like it or not.

      Developing countries have more than made up for this decline, but this is now shifting too. THat’s where the forecast begins. But data is already available to see in which direction this is shifting.

  15. Roland says:

    This article is about “Peak Oil” but then switches to plastics, which these days are made not from oil but NatGas, because it’s cheaper. So cheap that the former market for plastic recycling has collapsed. Peak oil will be pushed out by peak gas, renewables will take 10-20 years to approach the scale needed to push out peak gas. The author knows this, he’s just getting clicks.

  16. The people who need oil don’t have any money, so while there may be constraints on supply there will also be limits on price increases.

  17. Petunia says:

    Your comment about China’s demand for petrochemicals for plastics scared the hell out of me. I was reminded of some videos I recently watched showing the production of rice made out of recycled plastic bags. The rice is scented with a rice smell and coated with starch. It cannot be sold in China but is fine for export. They can also make fake lettuce as well and remold meats. The oil business is not like it was anymore.

  18. IdahoPotato says:

    Creating biodegradable “plastic bags” is a huge business in India these days.

    Pretty cool stuff.

  19. Dave Chapman says:

    I’m not sure. Electric cars are 20-30 years away from being 50% of new car sales. Figure that it will take another 5-7 years after that for 50% of the cars on the road to be electric.
    Most of the people who are buying electric cars today are either “not economically motivated” or “price insensitive”. That is to say, the buyers are Hippies or Rich People. These are good demographics for the early stages of an industry, but. . .

    I would say that when London and Berlin ban non-electric cars from downtown, you will start to see a serious phase-out of conventional transport. Not going to happen soon.
    The Germans are having a big fight over whether to ban diesel cars in places like Hamburg. The whole place reeks of diesel fumes and the air quality hasn’t been legal in years (except immediately after a major windstorm), but they are still _discussing_ it!

    The regulatory authorities are not even picking the low-hanging fruit: A ban on diesel-powered taxis would be a good start.

    It looks to me like the conversion from gasoline cars to electric cars is going to take a long time.

  20. polecat says:

    “Can anyone tell me when civilization reaches Peak Brondo .. anyone .. Ok, you in the back row …. uh … Mr. Not Sure. Have I pronounced that right ??”

    You can laugh all you want, but we’re getting there … and at an ever faster clip !

  21. Augusto says:

    You know, a lot of people see natural gas as clean and an alternate energy. It is not. It is “cleaner” than oil or coal, but it is just the gaseous state of the hydrocarbon world. Besides CO2, it comes with lots of nasty stuff-heavy metals, sulphur, salt water, etc…There is enormous waste in flares, liquifying it (i.e. getting it condensed by lowering the temperature to -160 degrees centigrade, shipping it tankers thousands of miles), and grafting it onto the existing power grid. The last one is a a particular bug-a-bo of mine. A lot of natural gas is wasted by being turned into electricity too soon, that is electricity loss via transmission power lines over distance is very high. Unfortunately, many power companies follow the old big central power plant model of Coal days-big plant on the outskirts of town. However, natural gas, if burned in small gas turbine plants local to usage, is much more efficient. Unfortunately, nobody wants a gas plant in their neighbourhood. In the end, Natural Gas produces a lot of CO2, not as much as oil or coal, but a lot. And just how much of this stuff can we burn into the atmosphere before we burn too much. We just keep looking for easy answers, with good guys and bad guys…not sure natural gas is a good guy, or a bad guy, just one of not so good solutions.

    • Cynic says:

      I tend to agree.

      So much debate these days is about imposing moral categories (‘good’ ‘clean’) and delusional aspirations (‘sustainable’, ‘eco-friendly’, etc) on what is a physical predicament – it’s best to ditch them, and look at the hard and very uncomfortable reality.

      Outmoded economic analysis -essentially merely a refinement of the insights of the late 18th and early 19th centuries ,when energy and natural resources were indeed truly abundant – should also hit the trashcan.

  22. Kye Goodwin says:

    I’m a little surprised that American demand for oil hasn’t increased significantly in this century. Its encouraging news to an environmentalist.

    I can think of two reasons for this other than the transition to renewables:

    Oil is now fundamentally more expensive, taking a long term average, than it was back in 2002. In terms of American wages it is now roughly twice as dear. As price goes up demand goes down.

    The American economy has been in trouble of one kind or another for most of the new century: two financial crises, recession, jobless recoveries, fake prosperity created by running up asset prices and now a return to very high levels of private debt. If this is a boom its a pale shadow of what a boom used to be.

    • Mean Chicken says:

      As an environmentalist, why don’t you concentrate on habitat destruction caused by globalism?

  23. Mean Chicken says:

    I prey for the day the outsourcing labor arbitrage turns on Corporate America, coming back to haunt them. I’ve been waiting over three decades.

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