Researchers have warned that global production of conventional oil could "peak" and then decline during the next decade.
The report by the UK Energy Research Council (UKERC) predicted that after the peak, oil production would begin to terminally decline by 2020, and it accused the Government of not dealing with this "significant risk".
Researchers said that several factors such as geological, political and economic uncertainty prevented the forecast of an exact date for the peak. However, the onset of the decline in oil production would not be sudden, but rather, a "bumpy plateau" with a downward trend.
Steve Sorrell, chief author of the report, said that although the impending decline was not immediate, predictions that oil production would not peak before 2030 were "at best optimistic and at worst implausible".
Even the discovery of new oil reserves, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, would not delay the peak by more than a few days or weeks, the report said.
More than half of the world's conventional oil resources have still not been exploited, but extraction of these will be more difficult and slow, and is likely to hike crude oil prices.
Currently, oil extraction stands at more than 80 million barrels a day.
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