In its well-respected annual energy outlook, oil major BP has said demand for oil will peak in the late 2030s, with the turnaround being driven by a revolution in electric vehicles (EVs). This is the first time BP has predicted such a peak, but the company also points out there is unlikely to be a sharp decline in the demand for oil.
BP says it expects the world to have 300 million EVs by 2040, with many of these being self-driving cars for shared mobility services. Without the need for a driver, these services would be much cheaper, and this will inevitably tempt many people away from incurring the expense of private vehicle ownership. While this is just 15% of the anticipated two billion cars on the world’s road at that point, these shared vehicles would travel 30% of the total distance, simply because they will be used more intensively.
The giant still expects oil consumption in 2040 to be roughly at 2016 levels, however, because a doubling in global car travel will offset the increased use of EVs and efficiency improvements in internal combustion engines.
ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest publicly traded oil and gas company and manufacturer for Mobil UK distributors, has made a similar prediction. It estimates that liquid fuels used by light-duty vehicles will peak by 2030, although it stresses that growing demand from the chemical and commercial transportation sectors will still ensure that oil plays a prominent role in the global energy mix.