OPEC warns of ‘chaos’ brought on by peak fossil fuel claims

The narrative that peak fossil fuel demand is near is dangerous, claims the organization.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of working pumpjacks.jpg
Representational image of working pumpjacks.


On Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) released a letter addressing a recent statement by the International Energy Agency that peak fossil fuel demand was near. The organization claimed that such allegations could lead to “chaos.”

When the demand for fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, reaches its peak and starts to drop, this is referred to as the peak fossil fuel demand stage. It is frequently mentioned in relation to the move towards a future with lower carbon emissions and more sustainable energy sources. 

A dangerous narrative

According to OPEC, it is a very dangerous and unrealistic narrative. To discount fossil fuels or imply that their end is near, is simply not true and could have severe outcomes, claims the organization. 

It further adds that both peak supply and peak demand have been frequently predicted during previous years, yet neither has occurred thus far. The danger of such projections today comes from the fact that they are frequently made in conjunction with recommendations to halt the funding of new oil and gas projects.

“Such narratives only set the global energy system up to fail spectacularly. It would lead to energy chaos on a potentially unprecedented scale, with dire consequences for economies and billions of people across the world,” said in the letter OPEC Secretary General, HE Haitham Al Ghais.

Discussions on the peak demand for fossil fuels are primarily motivated by the necessity to combat climate change. This is because the main source of greenhouse gas emissions is fossil fuels. 

Today, energy efficiency improvements and the shift to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources such as renewable energy are top priorities for many nations and regions. Environmental concerns and a desire to lessen reliance on limited fossil fuel resources are the driving forces behind this change. All these factors drive peak fossil fuel demand.

Technological advancements

However, OPEC argues that this thinking is not rational as it does not take into account the technological advancements that have made fossil fuels much more abundant. The organization further claims that, just like 30 years ago, fossil fuels are currently responsible for meeting 80 percent of the world’s energy needs.

Fossil fuels, says OPEC, are a source of energy security and economic development that should not be ignored.

“Cognizant of the challenge facing the world to eliminate energy poverty, meet rising energy demand, and ensure affordable energy while reducing emissions, OPEC does not dismiss any energy sources or technologies, and believes that all stakeholders should do the same and recognize short- and long-term energy realities,” added HE Al Ghais.

However, the organization did note that it was making some investments to combat global warming, most notably in hydrogen projects, carbon capture utilization and storage facilities. Is this enough?

As governments and international organizations put laws and rules into effect to cut back on the use of fossil fuels and as clean energy technologies advance, there is no doubt fossil fuels are less in demand. Is OPEC holding on to an outdated power source or are fossil fuels still a viable part of the world’s energy mix? Time will tell.

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