Today’s Peak Oil Article
Peak oil is forcing its way to the top of the agenda with stark warnings from the International Energy Agency and others repeated on ABC radio and television this week, after an investigation by the Catalyst program.
Following up a similar program she made in 2005, journalist Jonica Newby gained a rare interview with the IEA chief economist, Fatih Birol, who said crude oil production peaked in 2006 and, in veiled terms, added governments should have started working seriously on the problem a decade ago and warned of the threat of more oil wars.
Whereas five years ago the agency expected total production – including oil from deep-sea drilling and unconventional sources such as tar sands – could rise to 120 million barrels a day by 2030, the agency now expects production will reach only 96 million barrels. And Birol reckons there are no guarantees it can be brought out of the ground in a timely fashion.
”Existing fields are declining so sharply that in order to stay where we are in terms of production levels, in the next 25 years we have to find and develop four new Saudi Arabias. That is a huge challenge.”
If you’re unsure of the general outline of the argument for Peak Oil, here’s the helpful Wikipedia entry with the usual caveats about Wikipedia. Even the mighty Russian fields peaked in 2007 according to Wikipedia. If you want to read in more depth, here’s a cool link.
Anyway, back to the article:
Desperately needed, of course, is a policy to tackle both peak oil and climate change at the same time.
Last year the think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, with Melbourne University’s Energy Research Institute, published its Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, which shook things up by calling for investment of $37 billion a year to switch the whole country over to 100 per cent renewable energy within a decade. The plan included enough installed energy capacity to power all our transport needs.
Beyond Zero has assembled a team of scientists, engineers and planners working pro bono on a fully costed, national transport plan that will take in three streams: city passenger and public transport, freight, and intercity transport and high-speed rail.
Workshops are under way, drafts are circulating and the report is due out by the end of the year.
The executive director, Matthew Wright, says the opportunity for Australia is there to invest in new, climate-friendly transport infrastructure and avoid spending on high-priced oil imports, which Beyond Zero estimates could exceed $50 billion a year by 2015. ”That’s what I call a great big tax,” says Wright.
That should be the take home message for now. our politicians are barely on the edge of the crux of the problem, and they’re whipping up the wrong frenzy. Somewhere in the midterm, our dependence on oil could cripple our economy when it becomes impossible to move things around this country without oil. It’s on the cards, it’s part of the complex problem that gives rise to the need to prepare infrastructure for alternative energy sources. If one thing could contribute to the popping of the Australian Property Bubble, it would be the rising cost of oil.If people value the investment value of their houses, they might consider moving to alternative energies faster, not slower; and in turn stop whinging about the Carbon pricing because that is the mechanism by which the technology will be funded.