Saudi oil field

Peak oil, according to Wikipedia, is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. Opinions vary on when the world will actually reach a peak oil scenario, but a new report detailed by Julian Assange's infamous Wikileaks website indicates the United States believes it's staring us right in the face – as early as 2012.

Maybe that's what the Mayan calendar is on about?

It may not exactly be the end of the world as we know it, but if the report is accurate, it could mean death to a number of popular vehicular segments; namely the gas-guzzling sport utility vehicle, heavy-duty pickup truck and possible even the mainstream performance car. Electric and hybrid Mustang and Camaro models might not look so bad in the very near future, eh?

This revalatory report centers around a meeting between Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at Aramco (the state-owned national oil company of Saudi Arabia), and U.S. officials. Husseini, an expert on the subject, suggested that Saudi Arabia doesn't have as much oil left as the country wants us to believe and that it is unlikely to continue producing its current rate of 12.5 million barrels per day.

None of this is to say that the world has run out of oil – far from it, in fact – but it does mean that Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Middle East and the country that's thought by experts to hold about one-fifth of the world's proven total petroleum reserves, won't be able to provide enough oil to keep the world operating as it does today.

If nothing else, this report gives us reason to believe that oil prices won't stay nearly as low as they currently are, and that large-scale price increases could happen sooner rather than later. Thanks for the tip, Glenton!

[Source: Yahoo News | Image: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty]