Despite all the fears about oil reserves running out, it won't happen anytime soon, said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates and author of "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.
"This is not a world running out of oil anytime soon. It is a compelling image, but not the right image," he told an audience at the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Doha, Qatar.
The problem, he said, is that skeptics often discount the role of technology in allowing oil companies to tap new reserves. In the '70s, offshore oil drilling only went down 600 feet. Now drillers go 1,100 feet.
Just as important, companies are working, often successfully, to create untraditional oil sources, such as Gas-to-Fuel, a form of natural gas distilled into diesel fuel that is just coming out, and things like ethanol. Untraditional sources now account for 23 percent of oil production and will account for 35 percent by 2015.
As a result, overall production will rise from 87 million barrels a day today to 108 by 2018.
One big change for the industry, however, has been the rise of India and China. In 2004, Asia, for the first time, consumed more oil than North America.