Wall Street Journal
"(...) The world’s largest oil companies are girding for the biggest shift in energy consumption since the Industrial Revolution: After decades of growth, global demand for oil is poised to peak and fall in the coming years (...) timing when that peak in oil demand will materialize is one of the hottest flashpoints for controversy within the industry
It’s tough to predict because changes to oil demand will hinge on future disruptive technologies, such as batteries in electric cars that will allow drivers to travel for hundreds of miles on a single charge.
Hitting such a plateau would mark the first time that demand has declined even when economies are growing since Col. Edwin Drake jury-rigged a pipe to drill for oil in Pennsylvania in the late 1850s. Yet, for many companies and investors, the question isn’t whether this immense turning point will happen—it’s when.
Getting that timing right will separate the winners from the losers, and it has become a major preoccupation for energy economists and a flashpoint for controversy within the industry (...) Calling it accurately is high stakes for an industry sitting on trillions of dollars of crude-oil reserves. (...)
The idea that electric vehicles and alternative forms of energy will increasingly displace crude oil is one that big-name investors are starting to ask about. “We have lots of clients in the financial sector asking about peak demand,” says Linda Giesecke, research director at Wood Mackenzie, an energy consulting firm. “It’s because you have this threat of disruptive technology” such as electric vehicles, she says. “If it is disruptive, it will come fast. That’s why it’s so hard to forecast.” (...)
"Oil demand will peak 2021-2020 and will go down 100 million barrels, to 70 million barrels within 10 years. And what that means, the new equilibrium price is going to be $25"
That is the Catch-22 for oil producers: their best hope for continued demand growth is if prices stay at levels that put their profit margins and cash flows under pressure.