This oil industry spokesman, Mr Nansen G. Saleri, argues the world has plenty of oil to the end of the century and that $100 barrel prices will stimulate the types of innovations that will bring new supplies on board.
I don’t have enough oil industry knowledge to evaluate these claims - they seem to depend on the viability of improving extraction technologies and utilising alternative sources of fuel such as tar sands. Some claim alternatively that the point of peak oil production has already been reached. But I am intrigued that Exxon-Mobil – the largest Fortune 500 company – is terrified of a collapse in fuel prices and is sticking to oil as a core product. It is not diversifying into other energy resources. The Economist in 2006 made similar claims to Saleri as did very knowledgeable economists with good information about the oil industry such as Morris Adelman in 2004.
Supposing Saleri and the other 'optimists' are right, the case for investing in renewable and nuclear power will need to be much more firmly based on carbon emission issues. Carbon taxes on liquid fuels will need to be huge to cut carbon emissions from this source. There will also presumably be many red faces (and much red ink!) in the public and private sector components of the 'alternative fuels' market. Oil depletion will not act as a natural constraint on liquid-fuel-induced carbon emissions and the imperative to switch towards coal-fired electricity generation will be weaker. It will be a very different world.