There is abundant oil for decades to come; the number of electric cars on the road will increase almost 100-fold over the next 20 years; and liquified natural gas production will more than double over the same period, according to British oil giant BP's (BP) - Get BP Plc Report annual exercise in crystal ball gazing.
BP's "Energy Outlook" will make uncomfortable reading for many oil executives with the oil giant predicting long-term low oil prices and that much of the world's identified and technically recoverable reserves will have to remain in the ground for decades to come as consumption growth slows.
"Cumulative oil demand out to 2035 is expected to be around 0.7 trillion barrels, significantly less than the recoverable oil (1.7 trillion barrels) in the Middle East alone," BP noted. Total technically recoverable reserves are about 2.6 trillion barrels, meaning that likely demand over the next 22 years until 2050 cumulative global demand will amount to less than half of the currently available oil.
"We assume the abundance of oil resources prompts a change in behavior, such that production from (the lowest cost producers) Middle East OPEC, Russia and the US increases disproportionately...from 56% today to 63% in 2035," noted BP.
There was good and bad news on global warming in the report. On the downside fossil fuels, or oil, gas and coal, will continue to account for about 75% of total energy production in 2035, while carbon emissions will likely peak in 2020. More positively, the growing importance of cleaner burning gas, coupled with the growing share of renewable and nuclear energy should mean that carbon emissions in 2035 will have fallen 12% below their 2015 level.
Cleaner burning liquified natural gas, or LNG, in particular is poised for a boom in production, particularly in the next four years as massive new projects in Australia and the U.S. boost supply capacity from near 30 billion cubic feet per day of production to almost 50 Bcf/d by 2020. Global LNG production will then continue to grow to almost 80 billion cubic feet per day by 2035, according to BP's forecasts.
"Asia [will] remain the largest destination for LNG. China, India and other Asian countries [will] all increase their demand for LNG, helping gas grow faster than either oil or coal in each of these economies," BP predicted.
Growth in the supply of LNG, which is transported by ship, is likely to outstrip piped gas by about seven times over the next two decades, leaving LNG to account for about half of all global traded gas, up from its current market share of 32%. That in turn will put pressure on pipe-gas prices with LNG spot prices likely to become the reference for all gas prices.
While the use of oil in energy production will taper, BP expects demand from automobiles to double to about 38 million barrels per year by 2035 as petrol-engines remain the dominant, and a growing, means of transport. BP expects the global car fleet to double to 1.8 billion over the next two decades as rising incomes in the developing world lead to a tripling of non-OECD country car ownership to 1.2 billion vehicles.
The fastest growth market within the automobile sector will be electric cars. BP is forecasting 100 million electric cars on the roads by 2035, accounting for 5.5% of the global fleet, up from 1.2 million in 2015.