In Brief

Why Europe may face an oil shortage within a decade

New analysis suggests supply set to fall at faster rate than shift to greener alternatives

Europe may face an oil shortage within the next ten years as supplies from Russia and Africa rapidly decline, new research has found.

The study suggests that the speed of the decline in oil production may outstrip that of the European Union’s transition to cleaner energy sources, “raising the risk of a looming oil supply crisis and severe market price shock”, says The Guardian.

This danger of reaching “peak oil supply” is “an additional compelling reason for designing a world without oil”, argues French climate think-tank the Shift Project in a report outlining the findings.

The analysis is based on data from Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy that shows oil production from Russia and former USSR countries, which provide more than 40% of the EU’s supply, has already entered “a systematic decline”.

African oil production, which accounts for more than 10% of the bloc’s oil supplies, is also expected to drop rapidly over the next decade.

The potential supply crisis has been compounded by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with major oil companies expected to cut their spending plans for the coming year by almost 25%.

Per Magnus Nysveen, head of analysis at Rystad Energy, said:“The impact on society from an undersupplied oil market is largely under-communicated, so a rapid energy transition is crucial not only for the climate but also to avoid enduring recessions in emerging markets triggered by undersupply of oil and energy.” 

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American magazine Foreign Affairs has described the threat to Europe’s oil and coal supplies from Russia as “the worst fuel crisis in its history”.

Europe’s reliance on Russian energy sources has long been a cause for concern, with former US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland warning in an article in the Financial Times that the bloc should pursue “alternatives to putting its energy future in Moscow’s hands”.

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