The oil that’s flooded into the Gulf of Mexico has created big concerns about the environmental and economic damage. Another serious outcome has gotten far less attention: peak oil.
By prompting President Obama to suspend deep-water drilling in US offshore waters, the Gulf oil spill is pushing up the date at which the world’s conventional oil production peaks.
By itself, the United States suspension would bring forward that date only a little. But if other nations with offshore oil output or potential also stop risky offshore exploration and drilling, it could speed the arrival of peak oil at a more alarming rate.
Without alternative supplies of energy to offset it, a decline in oil production would send shock waves through the world, rattling economies and politics alike. Competition for resources could be fierce.