Who knew? While the pundits have been poo-poohing the concept of peak oil, the folks who are actually out looking for oil and gas believe it’s sooner than we think.

Seismic Micro-Technology Inc. took a poll at the recent American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) annual meeting, and this was one of the facts uncovered. The survey polled 150 AAPG members, 46% of whom were 45 or older and 60% of whom were from North America. Other questions centered on the price of oil – a majority think it will be more than $150 a barrel by 2013 – and our continued reliance on hydrocarbons for years to come – 25 years from now we’ll still be using fossil fuels as our main source of energy. Nuclear energy is seen as the best alternate candidate, and 36% of the respondents think it will be a primary energy source by 2033.

So back to this peak oil bit. More than 60% of the respondents think proven reserves will start to decline within 10 years, and that number grows to 74% among those labeling themselves as “geoscience managers.” Almost a third of the respondents think we’ll hit peak oil within five years. Among current “hot prospects,” only deepwater Brazil and Canada’s oil sands are seen by a majority as having a potential of more than 5 Bbbl of new discoveries.

The study concludes, “Petroleum geoscientists, who arguably have the most insight on global oil prospects, are doubtful about supply and prices, both in the short term and in the longer term. In addition, they question whether non fossil fuel sources can offset hydrocarbon use, even in 25-year time frames.”

To say this is troubling is an understatement. There seems to be something rather futile in their continued search for oil and gas when deep in their hearts they know it’s only a short-term fix for a long-term problem. I’m not sure the same skillset applies to developing new sources of energy as it does to finding conventional sources. I’m curious to hear what others think about this survey and its implications for geoscience, future energy sources, and the oil and gas industry.