20 April 2010

Peak Oil vs Oil Shortages

I have been a latecomer to the Peak Oil theory. It's just not my bag. My problem with cars is their negative effects on urbanism and walkability etc, not how they are powered. That said, it is true that the one thing that is essential to the whole suburban sprawl enterprise is cheap fuel. And once it gets expensive, or even unobtainable, then the whole system is screwed.

Peak Oil is the time when global production reaches it's highest point. Many smart people have studied this and have predicted that peak production is at least a decade or two away.

But a shortage is different than peak production. A shortage could occur even as extraction is still rising if usage is actually rising faster, (as it is in many countries such as China and India). This would lead to a much earlier crisis. This report in the Guardian quotes a US Military report as saying shortages could be a problem in just the next 2-5 years:
The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as ... the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis....


Anonymous said...

Probably worth noting that contemporary agriculture is very dependent on oil -- that's what fertilizer is made out of. So if long-term/permanent oil shortages come to pass, there could be a lot of very hungry people...

How's that for depressing and scary?

Blue Ash Mom

CityKin said...

Yeah petrol is needed for plastics and fertilizers and lots of other things, but I think more expensive oil will mostly affect travel, just because so much more is used for cars, trucks and planes.

Quimbob said...

Well, since we import practically everything, we could get screwed on shipping anything.
Or support this guy.

CityKin said...

^Harley Brown. Wow.