• Technology can help `meet projected demand many times over'
  • Proved oil, gas reserves could increase by two thirds

Technology can be used to increase the world’s proved oil and gas reserves by two thirds -- almost double the amount needed to meet demand through 2050 -- keeping energy supplies plentiful and affordable, according to BP Plc.

The amount of oil and gas recoverable from known reservoirs could rise to 4.8 trillion barrels of oil equivalent through the application of existing technologies, compared with proved reserves of 2.9 trillion currently, said David Eyton, the group head of technology at BP. Energy consumption will rise by 40 percent by 2035 and about 2.5 trillion barrels equivalent will be needed to meet global demand through to 2050, he said.

“Technology is one of the very few levers that you have to pull to make a significant impact,” Eyton said in a presentation in London on Monday.

New techniques developed in the U.S. to unlock oil and gas from shale formations have turned global energy markets on their heads. The nation reversed decades of decline to pump a record 9.6 million barrels of oil in June, contributing to a crude-price slump of almost 60 percent since June 2014. While future breakthroughs may allow a further 2.7 trillion barrels of oil equivalent to be added to technically recoverable reserves through 2050, government limits on carbon emissions may mean not all fossil fuel resources are extracted, according to BP.

Carbon Limits

The findings come as major oil companies prepare for a debate about measures to tackle climate change at a United Nations summit in Paris starting this month. Policy makers and the industry will focus on how to keep satisfying growing energy demand while making sure the increase in average global temperatures is kept within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Ten oil companies including BP agreed last month to back an agreement to prevent climate change, but they stopped short of supporting a carbon pricing mechanism. Not all the oil industry agrees with this approach and Exxon Mobil Corp. argued in May that technology should be used to mitigate the impact of increasing global temperatures.

According to BP’s analysis, if policy makers were to impose a $40 a metric ton price on carbon dioxide a modern gas turbine power plant would present a cost advantage over coal, which is the cheapest and most polluting fossil fuel.

“An effective and meaningful price on carbon globally could accelerate the development of low-carbon technologies and drive the decisive shift towards low-carbon energy,” Eyton said.

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