Peak hydrocarbons


Oil declines steeply after 2030, but gas continues to grow before leveling off at 29% of the energy mix by 2050

Natural gas

Holds a major position as an energy source throughout the forecast period, growing from 25% to 29% of global primary energy use. From 2017 production levels of 4,600 Gm³/yr, natural gas peaks in 2034 at 5,500 Gm³/yr thereafter slowly reducing by 5% to 2050. Production is however relatively flat from 2025 to 2050, but with a strong growth before this. Production-wise the share of unconventional onshore gas will rise steadily from its current level of 24% to 34% of total production in 2050. Conventional onshore declines in absolute terms, falling from 50% production to match the one-third share held by unconventional onshore in 2050. 


As a source of primary energy, declines by 44% during our forecast period, reducing from 29% of world primary energy use today to 17% in 2050. The decline is largely due to the rapid electrification of the world’s road transportation fleet. In aviation and shipping, biofuels will drive decarbonization. Oil peaks in 2022 (in effect a spike in a plateauing decade) as it is particularly sensitive to the forecast rate of EV uptake, which in turn is influenced by our assumptions on government support and the cost learning rate for Li-ion batteries. However, with a flat demand projection for non-energy oil use (e.g. as feedstock petrochemicals), and the transformation of road transport, the long-term decline trend is clear. 


Demand grew rapidly to its peak in 2014 and has since shown a negative, but bumpy, trend owing mainly to Europe and North America (giving way to gas and renewables) as well as demand flattening in air-quality plagued China. Over the next decade we forecast a slow decline, with environmental concerns counter-balancing energy hunger in rising economies. In the longer term, all regions, except Sub-Saharan Africa, will use less coal, which globally drops from 27% of primary energy in 2017 to 10% in 2050. Natural gas holds a major position as an energy source throughout the forecast period, but for oil the long-term decline trend is clear.