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PaulS's picture

Peak Oil Task Force

Peak Oil is going mainstream (about time, too!).
Here are some highlights:

The availability and price of oil affects almost every aspect of our economy and our day-to-day lives: the way we travel, where we work, what we eat, how we power our homes and buildings; and how we manufacture goods here in the UK.

The “easy oil” that makes up most of the existing capacity is declining fast, and the new capacity coming on stream – often from “not-so-easy” oil - will not replace it fast enough from 2011 onwards. Within modern cities, life in the suburbs will become extremely challenging without plentiful supplies of affordable oil.

On 29th October 2008 at The London Stock Exchange, eight leading UK companies launched a report, The Oil Crunch: Securing the UK’s energy future, warning that of a peak in cheap, easily available oil production, posing a grave risk to the UK and world economy. The warning comes from a broad spectrum of industry (Arup, FirstGroup, Foster + Partners, Scottish and Southern Energy, Solarcentury, Stagecoach Group, Virgin Group, Yahoo).

Can you summarise what is new/different in this report?

A. The effects of peak oil will be felt in the next five years - during the next term of government
• High oil prices combined with the credit crunch had a profound effect on the UK economy this year. The UK needs to plan for the impact of this scenario in the longer term.
• The Taskforce anticipate oil prices much higher than the existing record in the near future.
• When the oil price was near $150 earlier this year, panicking politicians flew around the world trying to do something about it. Even with significant reductions in demand, we risk oil prices far higher than $150 after peak oil hits.

B. Peak oil is more of a security threat than terrorism
• The risks to UK society from peak oil are far greater than those that tend to occupy government risk-assessment, including terrorism. As easily and cheaply available oil supplies fall off, high oil prices will become a long-term trend having profound direct and indirect economic impacts:
• Increased oil-based input costs for manufacturing and agriculture
• Increased transport costs throughout the supply chain
• Wider macro-economic shocks via higher inflation, balance of payments deficit and reduction of consumer demand.

C. The UK Government needs to re-prioritise peak oil as a more imminent threat than climate change
• Currently the Government places climate change as the first priority for policymaking, followed by energy security, with peak oil in last place.
• In contrast, the Taskforce analysis is that peak oil is more of an immediate threat to the economy and people’s lives than climate change. The Taskforce is not saying that climate change is less important but that the impacts of a decline in easily and cheaply available oil will hit us before the worst impacts of climate change. The Government needs urgently to reflect this threat in their analysis and planning.

I can't argue with any of this, except that my calculations indicate that the turning point will be 2009 or early 2010, rather then 2011.

Click for the full report.