Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The New Scientist on Peak Oil

The New Scientist has an article in its June 28 issue with much of the same analysis and warnings that were considered crackpot lunatic thinking just three years ago. My, how times have changed!

Here are some key clippings with comments.

Spare capacity has now all but vanished, oil producers cash in on soaring prices by extracting as much of the stuff as they can.
"There is absolutely no slack in the system any more," says Gal Luft, executive director of the institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington-DC based think tank.
This has left the oil market so fragile that a few well-placed explosives, an energy-sapping cold winter or an unusually intense hurricane season could send shock waves across the globe.
Situation most experts fear is what they call a "psychological avalanche."

[Describes what happens when people find out there's no more oil: hoarding and fighting]

So, the article finally explains to people it's not just about cars driving around. It's about the whole globalized economy, our food and manufacturing systems.

The article continues:
It's not just about fuels. A giant chemical industry relies on oil as its fedstock, and without it many of the products we now take for granted would vanish.
Much of the economic expansion and growth of the human population in the 20th century is directly tied to the availability of large amounts of cheap oil," says Cutler Cleveland.
There isn't a single good service consumed on the planet, except in rural economies, that doesn't have oil embedded in it. Oil is the lifeblood of the global economy.
So, we are all vulnerable, regardless of whether we drive a car or not.
Ras Tanure on the Persian Gulf handles 1/10th of world's oil. This makes it a prime target for attack.
"If you have a facility like this and a plane crashed into it, or terrorists get int and somehow succeed in blowing it up, then you have a very, very significant disruption on your hands. That is what analysts see as a doomsday scenario.
As discussed here and elsewhere, the supply is so tight and choke points so obvious that it doesn't even require a Shadow Opec to bring down several percentage points of world oil production capacity.

A mere accident or a freak of weather can do that.

And finally, a blow to the CERA cornucopians:
Most industry experts, including geoscientists and economists, who were poolledy by Samid in 2007 said that peak production will occur by 2010. "Now a real concensus is emerging"
The article is a good read.

It's recommended that people buy copies of the magazine and give to those who need to know, but have been so far unconvinced.