Energy Transition

Demand for oil will peak in 2030, says research

Bernstein Research looks the potential demand for oil in the future, and predicts it will peak in 2030.

Bernstein Research looks the potential demand for oil in the future, and predicts it will peak in 2030. Image: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Matthew Nitch Smith
Finance Writer, Business Insider
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Energy Transition

Oil has crashed.

But a short-term drop in the price of oil is nothing compared with the end of demand for oil as we know it.

The more extreme scenario is what Bernstein Research is now talking about. Energy analyst Neil Beveridge is out with a new note that explores the question of demand — with a prediction that the end of oil as we know it is coming in 2030.

The future demand for oil

It won't be a linear, slow burn, the note says; it suggests that the demand for oil will actually come back a little bit over the next decade.

"A key conclusion from our analysis is that demand growth through to 2020 will be stronger than the previous decade," the note says. "For investors who equate the slowdown in China with the end of the commodity super-cycle, the resilience in demand could be a surprise. The cure for low prices is low prices."

Prices will recover, the note says, but not to the triple-digit levels we saw before last year's crash. Instead prices will level off at $60 to $70 until the end of the decade.

We'll then see a final push of demand for oil beyond 2020, until it peaks after 2030.

And then that's all folks.

Oil era is not over- but the Demand for oil will peak in 15-20 years.
Oil era is not over- but the Demand for oil will peak in 15-20 years. Image: Bernstein Research

The factors involved around the demand for oil

A few years ago everyone was talking about peak oil supply, the moment when the world would run out of oil. Bernstein is talking about the exact opposite — about a world in which people don't really want oil anymore.

This situation will be driven by three factors, the report says. First, developed nations will slowly ween themselves off of oil over the next decade. Bernstein argues that the West actually hit peak oil in 2005.

At the same time, though, emerging-market demand for oil will continue to grow, especially from China and India. That is where that push in 2020 will come from.

But a few factors will be working to level out that growing demand for oil. Increased fuel efficiency and the diversification of fuels used to power the world will keep prices below the peaks we saw over the past decade. This includes everything from liquefied natural gas to diesel to electric vehicles.

And then there's climate change, meaning that there are policy risks to the continued consumption of oil.

That's the end of oil as we know it. Do you feel fine?

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