Frequently Asked Questions

Does the world have enough oil to meet our future needs?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook 2016, the global supply of crude oil, other liquid hydrocarbons, and biofuels is expected to be adequate to meet the world's demand for liquid fuels through 2040. There is substantial uncertainty about the levels of future liquid fuels supply and demand. EIA reflects some of this uncertainty by developing a Reference case, high and low economic growth cases, and high and low oil price cases in its projections. The oil resources currently in the earth's crust, in combination with expected production of other liquid fuels, are estimated to be sufficient to meet total world demand for liquid fuels in all cases of the International Energy Outlook 2016.

An often cited, but misleading, measurement of future resource availability is the reserves-to-production ratio, which is calculated by dividing the volume of total proved reserves by the volume of current annual consumption. Proved reserves are an accounting concept that is based on known projects, and it is not an appropriate measure for judging total resource availability in the long term. Over time, global reserves will likely increase as new technologies increase production at existing fields and as new projects are developed.

Learn more:
International Energy Outlook, Chapter 2. Petroleum and other liquid fuels
International energy data (historical world and country-level estimates of proved crude oil reserves, and of petroleum and other liquids production and consumption)

Last updated: May 19, 2016

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