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"The Unnoticed Oil Revolution"

Drilling oil well with a tractor-operated rotary drill at Ellenwood, Kansas
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"The Unnoticed Oil Revolution"

A research update from Geopolitics of Energy fellow, Leonardo Maugeri


February 22, 2012

Author: Leonardo Maugeri, Senior Fellow, Geopolitics of Energy Project

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Geopolitics of Energy Project



An unprecedented investment boom in oil exploration and development, along with the innovative application of once expensive technologies, seem bound to deliver surprising results in terms of oil future production growth. Not only do these results make void any “peak-oil” theory, but they might even provoke a relevant overproduction wave in this decade, leading to a significant price downturn. Yet, this potential revolution is quite unnoticed, because of a general bias concerning the oil endowment of our planet, a constant underestimation of demand growth and oilfields depletion rates, as well as a steady underestimation of supply potential.

This research tries to dispel these points by focusing on a critical assessment of: 1) field-by-field analysis of all projects underway in the most relevant countries in terms of production growth to 2020; 2) oil depletion rates, as calculated by several, influential sources; 3) the oil price-level and the other most relevant factors (geopolitics, political decisions, etc.) that may affect production growth in this decade. Moreover, a special, detailed focus is devoted to assess the geological, economic, and technical realities which support the development of U.S. shale oil, that may represent the biggest new oil frontier in many decades and a real “paradigm-changer”.

The results of this research will later be analyzed in terms of potential impact on the oil market, oil geopolitics, other energy sources, and environmental/climate change public policies.


For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.

For Academic Citation:

"The Unnoticed Oil Revolution." Paper, February 22, 2012.

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