A world without oil?

Marché pétrolier

Oil is the main source of energy in modern society. It is also a source of war and pollution and our dependence on black gold divides public opinion. The use of oil is very different: indeed, the more developed a country is, the more the use of oil is dedicated to transport. In addition, the oil shocks of the XXème siècle allowed leaders of developed countries to understand that oil should be better used where it is not possible to replace it. Oil is used everywhere. It is the foundation of consumer society. Its cost was very cheap for a fossil commodity until recently, it is present in our economy as an essential, almost irreplaceable product. It is both a source of energy and a highly prized raw material. We begin to be aware of it when its price increases, because its impact is felt in our movements, our food, our comfort, our tranquility.

>Production, consumption and reserve of oil

World oil consumption is growing rapidly. It increased by 11% between 1970 and 2000, and it is estimated that it will increase by a further 30 to 40% by 2030. This is the result of a combination of several factors:

A GALOPPING DEMOGRAPHY: the world population will increase to 9 billion between 2020 and 2050. Even if the countries with the highest population growth are not the most industrialized, this population growth will have an impact on global oil consumption.

THE EMERGENCE OF NEW INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES: Some countries, such as China and India, which together represent about a quarter of the world’s population, are in full economic development. Their expansion generates high oil consumption. By 2030, it is estimated that oil consumption in these emerging countries will account for 50% of world consumption

EXPANSION OF THE TRANSPORT SECTOR: 97% of transport depends on petroleum products. The globalisation of the economy and trade implies a significant development of the transport sector. It is estimated that transport currently accounts for 50% of oil consumption; this proportion is expected to rise to 60% by 2030. In other words, oil consumption for the transport sector alone is expected to increase by about 35% by 2030


There are few alternatives comparable to oil. Those with the greatest potential will only be able to replace oil if there is a willingness or a need to break with oil-based traditions. This is why agrofuels are widely supported by oil companies: they allow them to maintain control over distribution networks, and from a use point of view, agrofuels represent only a technological evolution. They do not change consumer behaviour, and that is what interests those who master distribution networks.

We could mention hydrogen, in the same kind of problem of distribution networks (and production, because hydrogen is an energy carrier, just like electricity, and not a energy source).
Solutions for the production and use of decentralised energy sources, while they may be a viable alternative, are not preferred because they imply a change of habit for suppliers and consumers. If technology could offer us a new source of clean energy compatible with current uses and distribution methods today or in the near future, it would undoubtedly become the norm. But such energy sources do not exist: those that present themselves as such are only lures boasting biased qualities. It is generally “sufficient” to analyse their sectors as a whole in order to become aware of the aberrations they constitute, or the conditions under which they could really constitute (even partially) a credible alternative (and to become aware that these conditions are not respected)


When an economy is largely based on oil exports, it is certain that GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will increase or decrease according to the rise or fall in oil prices. After being stable for more than three years, around $110 oil began to fall in June 2014, reaching about $50 a barrel in December. Since the beginning of 2015, the tremors have been severe, the price is now around 60 dollars, such a variation has particularly serious consequences for the countries producing black gold.

Let us take the case of Venezuela the dependence on oil is extreme, oil represents 95% of exports and constitutes two thirds of the State’s revenues. The inexorable fall in oil prices had considerably reduced Venezuelan monetary receipts and dealt a terrible blow to imports, leading to the shortage of many essential products. All these factors have led to an uncontrolled rate of inflation, to the point that the Central Bank of Venezuela refuses to provide this year’s figures on price increases.


The geopolitics of oil describes the impact of oil demand and supply on the policies of countries that consume and produce this essential raw material for today’s economic lifestyle. As the oil deposits are limited and their geographical location does not generally coincide with that of the consuming countries, oil resource exploitation is a source of tension. Consumer countries, generally with high power military, are then tempted to use powerful means of pressure (military or economic) to gain access to these resources. Oil, a highly strategic, has been frequently associated with international confrontations since the beginning of the xxe century.

In Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Caliph Ibrahim has seized vast oil fields and intends to exploit them as war booty.

For the peoples of this region, oil is not a manne but an evil that corrupts leaders and, instead of strengthening states, weakens them permanently. The Iraq war willed by Bush was first and foremost a war for control over the country’s oil resources, in order to prevent China from having access to oil fields essential for its development. It actually led to the destabilization of all the States in the Region.
In Palestine, the battle for water resources is raging. The State of Israel and the settlers suffocate Palestine by opening or closing the tap as they see fit.
In Africa, the Mali war is not – unlike the humanitarian storytelling we are told – a war without economic stakes. The proximity of Niger’s uranium sites, exploited by Areva, as well as the exploitable resources in North Mali, are at the heart of this conflict.


Fossil fuels are the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and therefore to the increase in temperature of the Earth’s surface that we have observed since the end of the 19th century.

In the major industrial countries, they provide most of the energy needed to manufacture consumer goods. That is to say their economic and strategic importance! The foreseeable decrease in their availability before the end of the century, first the oil, then natural gas, and finally coal, is worrying for the future of highly consuming countries.


Knowing that oil exploitation is a source of wealth and economic success,

But this energy is non-renewable and since its consumption continues to grow for growing needs, which could explain the increase in its production.

Oil discoveries are decreasing as they occur, even those found are in geographical areas where climatic conditions are extreme, requiring new drilling methods that are very advanced or even non-existent.

However, it is estimated that oil reserves have a finite consumption period, which already explains the presence of renewable energies, even if black gold remains irreplaceable.

Then a world without oil can put an end to our dependence on oil, which is present almost everywhere, this is our daily life. Oil companies will be or are even in the process of being confronted with this impasse, if the oil is over we will no longer be able to talk about oil companies because insurance companies do insurance, electricity companies produce electricity, and oil companies?

We must be courageous to say that they will disappear unless they diversify their activity beyond oil.

Several renewable energy companies are emerging and will multiply. The problem is that renewable energies are manufactured and their use depends only on climatic factors, such as the sun, wind etc.

Imagine a future where the means of transport have changed their operating configuration, no more turbojet engines with kerosene, no more propellant for rockets, the situation is getting more complicated. Will it be necessary to destroy any mechanical system working with black gold?

Then humanity will know a new phase, because depending on renewable energies would be eternal, and will change our habits

However, some countries whose economies depend on oil have begun to address the issue of energy alternation by directing their investment towards other activities in order to relay their economies. Profitability in oil production remains high, which is the cause of their economic boom. The question would be to know if they will then experience the same growth as they did during the black gold era?

Perhaps one thing could reassure us, since oil is often seen as the nerve of war and certain geopolitical tensions, and its absence could stabilize international relations.

Williams TEPINHI

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