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Peak Oil ~ Overview

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  • Merlin Matthews ~ Re~Cycle
    OVERVIEW (from http://www.odac-info.org/) Oil is the world s premier source of energy and is fundamental to almost every important function of modern life.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 26, 2006
      Peak Oil ~ Overview
      OVERVIEW  (from http://www.odac-info.org/)
      Oil is the world's premier source of energy and is fundamental to almost every important function of modern life.  It fuels 95 percent of land, sea and air transport, so the efficient movement of raw materials and goods, as well as personal mobility, is almost entirely oil-dependent.  Food production too relies heavily on oil to run farm machinery and to make fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.  Oil generates 40 percent of the world's commercial energy, provides heating fuel, and drives industry and commerce.  No other existing energy source can match the versatility, convenience and low cost of oil.  Moreover, it supplies feedstock for many thousands of manufactured products as diverse as plastics, medicines, clothing and building materials.

      Global  demand for oil has increased seven-fold over the past half-century due to  rapid population growth and industrial expansion.  The world  now consumes about 82 million barrels of oil a day.   (A barrel  is the equivalent of 42 U.S. gallons or 159 litres.)  Demand is generally  expected to continue growing at an average annual rate of one to two percent.  The  International Energy Agency forecasts that worldwide oil demand could exceed  100 million barrels a day by 2020.  The greatest rise in demand is expected to come from developing nations.  Growing transportation needs  throughout the world would account for up to three-quarters of the projected  increase.

      Oil  industry leaders acknowledge that new sources of oil are becoming increasingly  difficult to find and more costly to exploit.  New oilfield  discoveries have been declining steadily for 40 years despite extensive  exploration with the most advanced technology, and most importantly, finding  giant new fields is becoming ever more rare.  Recently,  major oil companies have had to cut their production growth targets.  In  2002, the world used four times more oil than was found from new sources.  Since  about 80 percent of the oil that will be necessary to meet projected needs  in 10 years time is not currently in production, unprecedented levels of  investment and yet-to-be-achieved technological advances will be required  to balance supply with future demand.

      The industry's ability to locate and recover ever-smaller volumes of oil has improved significantly but the physical limitations of the resource are inescapable.  Operating experience from tens of thousands of oilfields shows that the rate of production always rises to a peak and then begins to fall off when about half the recoverable oil has been extracted.  Since the world's total endowment of oil is finite and non-renewable, in due course, as new discoveries become insufficient to offset the natural depletion of existing reserves, overall output will reach its maximum limit and begin to decline.

      The world  has now consumed almost half the total amount of conventional oil most experts estimate will ever be available for recovery.  Assessments  of the world's ultimately recoverable oil reserves vary but 65 published  studies by oil companies, geologists, government analysts and consultants  over the past 50 years have produced remarkably consistent estimates. The  overwhelming majority of these put the world's original endowment of recoverable  oil at no more than about 2,400 billion barrels; the average estimate is  2,000 billion barrels.  Cumulative worldwide consumption had exceeded 900 billion barrels by the  end of 2003.

       A growing number of experts now foresee a permanent downturn in global oil production rates within a matter of years.  Although past premature forecasts have led many to view warnings of impending oil scarcity with a great deal of scepticism, no fewer than a dozen recent independent analyses, using different assumptions and demand growth projections, all show global production reaching its natural peak within the coming decade.  Even the most conservative of these, based on what some consider an implausibly high estimate of the total oil endowment, forecasts the peak by 2020.

      As growing demand exceeds available supplies, oil prices will rise substantially and the effects will be felt throughout the global economy.  Oil is the world's single largest traded commodity, accounting for over half the total value of all commodity transactions.  Fears of oil supply disruptions alone can create financial panic.  The few episodes of dramatic oil price rises in the past 30 years, due mainly to events in the Middle East, have shown how vulnerable the world economy is to the impact of supply restrictions.  High oil prices fuel inflation, contribute to economic recessions and create the greatest hardship for those least able to bear the additional costs.

      The world will become increasingly dependent on oil from the Middle East as supplies from elsewhere decline.   Already over 50 oil-producing countries have passed their peak production, including the United States, once the world's largest producer, which now relies on imported oil for over 60 percent of its domestic needs.  Most other producing nations are expected to reach their peak within the next few years.  The only exceptions will be a handful of oil-rich Persian Gulf states, which hold about two-thirds of the world's proven reserves.  Saudi Arabia alone controls 25 percent of those reserves.
      The  productive capacity of Middle East oilfields is uncertain and the risks  of supply disruptions are heightened by continuing political instability  in the region.   Oil from the Middle East currently accounts for almost a third of the  world's supply and that share will grow steadily in the years ahead.  While  it is commonly assumed that some excess production capacity is available  to meet short-term increases in demand, little is known about the longer-term  potential for growth.  In any case, intensified worldwide competition  will inevitably accelerate the depletion of those reserves and the onset  of falling output.   Moreover, securing reliable supplies from the region comes at a substantial  additional expense.  Some estimates put the military costs of protecting  pipelines and tanker routes, borne mainly by U.S. taxpayers, at around $15-20  a barrel.
      The era of cheap, plentiful supplies of oil is coming to an end, requiring fundamental restructuring of the world's energy systems.  Any shift towards new, more costly alternatives is bound to be difficult and time consuming.  Growing recognition of the serious environmental damage and climate-changing effects caused by burning oil (and other fossil fuels) is beginning slowly to drive new, long-term energy policies.  The approaching peak and decline in oil supplies adds urgency to the need for greater energy efficiency measures and more rapid development of sustainable energy alternatives.

      See http://www.fcnp.com/521/peakoil.htm for recent effects


      Good intro, inc video, and links page
      http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/content/peak_oil >

      Good introductions
      - http://www.wolfatthedoor.org.uk
      - http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net

      For daily updates and links to mainstream media:
      Lessons from Russia http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/index.shtml#post

      The official site of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas.

      Clearing house for news regarding the peak in global energy supply.
      Dedicated to raising awareness & discussion of the impending & permanent
      decline of cheap oil & gas supply.
      Oil Depletion Analysis Centre working to raise awareness and promote better
      understanding of the world's oil-depletion problem.

      Public service broadcasting for a post carbon world.
      Learning to live in a low energy world.
      US site and forum to educate and promote awareness of global hydrocarbon
      The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability
      Chris Vernon's Peak Oil Blog





      http://www.earthship.org - ultra eco-house, provides its own heat, water, electricity and some food!  I'm building one, have been refining the system for 30 years in Taos, New Mexico, have them all over the world, including Brighton and Scotland

      Buy a FreeRadical http://www.xtracycle.com - a conversion kit to convert your bicycle into a load carrying bike ~ Can buy them in the UK from merlin at re-cycle.org all profit to charity

      DTQs = Domestic Tradable Quotas - http://www.dtqs.org/ - something the government would have laughed at 10 years ago, though are looking at now...

      CSA  = Community Supported Agriculture

      Lessons from Russia (after its collapse):

      Lessons from Cuba (after Russia's collapse):




      Centre for Alternative Technology - http://www.cat.org.uk/


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