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LONDON -- As crude oil prices hit $100 a barrel last month, industry officials have questioned mainstream supply forecasts, and suggested a peak in oil output may be closer than the industry has previously admitted, Reuters reported. However, one BP economist developed a theory that world oil production may peak due to a decline in demand, rather than lessened supplies, the report stated.
"I believe there is a realistic possibility that world oil production will peak within the next generation as a result of peaking demand," BP special economic adviser Peter Davies said during at a meeting looking into peak oil.
London-based BP dismisses the view that there is a problem with the amount of oil left in the ground, Reuters reported. Statistics complied by BP show the world has oil reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels, enough to sustain current output for 40 years, according to the report.
Davies argued that environmental regulations -- which include efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- could cause consumer demand for oil to fall, the report stated.
"I think we will run out of demand before we run out of supply," he said at the meeting. "There's a distinct possibility that global oil consumption could peak as a result of climate policies."
In addition, Davies was concerned whether there is enough investment in the industry. Many major producing countries have banned foreign investment in their oilfields, or allow it with terms oil firms find uncompetitive, Reuters reported.
"An imminent peak in oil production is not likely," Davies said. "Valid concerns remain over investment, especially in resource-rich regions."
He also stated that it was possible to boost world oil production to 100 million barrels per day, a figure that is predicted the world will need more than later this century, according to forecasts from the International Energy Agency, the report stated.
"I believe 100 million barrels per day is achievable," Davies said. "This is achievable in resource terms but it does come down to how much investment is going to take place."