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Aviation fuel and future oil production scenarios

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Publication date: 2009-06-12
First Published in Energy Policy
Authors: E. Nygren et al

Abstract:

Most aviation fuels are jet fuels originating from crude oil. Crude oil must be refined to be useful, and jet fuel is only one of many products that can be derived from crude oil. Jet fuel is extracted from the middle distillates fraction and competes, for example, with the production of diesel.

Crude oil is a limited natural resource subject to depletion, and several reports indicate that the world’s crude oil production is close to the maximum level and that it will start to decrease after reaching this maximum. A post-Kyoto political agenda to reduce oil consumption will have the same effect on aviation fuel production as a natural decline in the crude oil production. On the other hand, it is predicted by the aviation industry that aviation traffic will keep on increasing.

The industry has put ambitious goals on increases in fuel efficiency for the aviation fleet. Traffic is predicted to grow by 5% per year to 2026, fuel demand by about 3% per year. At the same time, aviation fuel production is predicted to decrease by several percents each year after the crude oil production peak is reached resulting in a substantial shortage of jet fuel by 2026. The aviation industry will have a hard time replacing this with fuel from other sources, even if air traffic remains at current levels.

Published in: Energy Policy, Volume 37, Issue 10, October 2009, Pages 4003-4010
Available from: ScienceDirect

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