Foreseeable Future of Oil

Cameron MacGillivray, the president and CEO of Enform, says he’s not hearing [a year and a half ago] many concerns about the job market of the future. Rather than getting questions about the oil and gas industry prospects, he says he is asked about what kinds of jobs are most in demand and how much opportunity young people have for career advancement in their respective fields. Due to the still-high demand for oil and other fossil fuels in the medium term, and the size of global reserves, he sees them playing a major role in the energy supply chain of tomorrow. “All the indicators are that hydrocarbons are an important source of energy for the foreseeable future,” he says.

Enform is the upstream oil and gas industry’s advocate and leading resource for the continuous improvement of safety performance (training, resources, COR)”

OK, let’s examine MacGillivray’s claim a bit. First, I think it’s crucial you understand to avoid melting our ice caps, and flooding our coastal cities, requires us to remain somewhere below 1.5 degrees C climate change. To avoid exceeding 1.5 degrees means we cannot pollute our atmosphere with Green House Gases (GHGs) past our permissible “carbon budget”. Our carbon budget to hit 2 degrees change is exceeded 5 times over, if we burn the “global reserves” MacGillivray cited. Clearly not “all the indicators” are that hydrocarbons are with us for the “forseeable future”, so long as we accept that we must not burn them all in order to save some of civilization’s greatest cities.


Scientists say that to have even a two-thirds chance of staying below a global increase of two degrees Celsius, we can release 800 gigatons more CO2 into the atmosphere. But the Rystad data shows coal mines and oil and gas wells currently in operation worldwide contain 942 gigatons worth of CO2. So the math problem is simple, and it goes like this:

942 > 800


So last year, when the world’s leaders met in Paris, they set a new number: Every effort, they said, would be made to keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees. And to have even a 50–50 chance of meeting that goal, we can only release about 353 gigatons more CO2. So let’s do the math again:

942 > 353

A lot greater. To have just a break-even chance of meeting that 1.5 degree goal we solemnly set in Paris, we’ll need to close all of the coal mines and some of the oil and gas fields we’re currently operating long before they’re exhausted.

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