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Because oil is a depleting, finite natural resource, world conventional oil production will reach a maximum, or peak, after which production will decline.1 Using differing methodologies and information of widely varying quality, experts and organizations have attempted to forecast the likely year of world conventional oil production peaking. The recent range of such estimates extends from late 2005 to an apparent denial that it will ever happen. Almost all forecasts are based on differing, often dramatically differing geological assumptions. Explicit account of investment rates in new and expanded production has been relatively rare.
Because of the large uncertainties, it is difficult to define an overriding geological basis for accepting or rejecting any of the forecasts. However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently warned that worldwide investment in expanded oil production has been considerably less than needed to continue world oil production that is adequate to meet expected world demand.
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