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PaulS's picture

Peak Oil meeting with Government

Leaders at Closed-Door UK Meeting on “Inevitable” Peak Oil Crisis Weigh Possible Solutions to Energy Scarcity

According to a summary of proceedings, the secret meeting that took place Monday between the British energy minister and the business taskforce responsible for last month’s provocative peak oil report was indeed the beginning of an ongoing process to understand and prepare for the end of cheap oil.

“Although Chatham House rules prevent me from stating what the Minister said, there is clearly a desire to continue this dialogue on peak oil,” Rob Hopkins wrote on Wednesday on his blog Transition Culture. A prominent promoter of a movement that actively encourages and monitors societal structures based on a low-energy future, Hopkins joined colleague Peter Lipman as representatives of the Transition network at the closed-door meeting.

The meeting acknowledged the inevitability of both peak oil and government intervention, but focused on the role of transportation and technology-based solutions.

According to Hopkins’ summary, the presentations included an overview of the 2009 study from the UK Energy Research Centre, which concluded that peak oil was a near-term hazard; an oil industry perspective warning that $150 a barrel prices trigger recessions but also stating that high oil prices are necessary incentives for energy transitions; the Peak Oil Task Force report that inspired the meeting; and a talk by himself and Lipman that shared case histories of “Transition Towns”—communities that have already developed measures to increase their energy efficiency and self-sufficiency in preparation for a world in which outside energy sources are decreasingly reliable.

The issue of peak oil arose last November when whistleblowers inside the International Energy Agency alleged the problem had been deliberately downplayed over a long period. BP and other oil companies insist that there is little danger of the world running out of oil because new areas such as Brazil, and more recently Uganda, are always opening up to development. BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, believes demand will fall as prices move up., pushing back any major peak-oil dislocation.

But booming demand in China, India and the Middle East has pushed up the price of crude to more than $80 a barrel and UK petrol prices are close to record levels.

Leggett says all these scenarios could be much too optimistic. He is convinced that Britain must prepare as quickly as possible for a situation when oil becomes so expensive that international trade is hampered and globalisation breaks down.

Peak oil used to be the preoccupation of a small minority, but a parliamentary group has been set up to follow the issue and an increasing number of industrialists have begun to worry about it.

Ian Marchant, Scottish and Southern Energy's chief executive, is one who now believes global demand for oil is on the brink of outstripping the ability to produce it. At the launch of the Oil Crunch report, he said: "The west has been far too profligate in its use of oil and the price is going to say: stop it now and start using your oil as a scarce commodity."

and here is Rob's report of the meeting: