Peak oil under spotlight

The issue of when the world will reach peak oil production, or whether it already has, came under the spotlight at Sustainabilitylive! this week.

The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre’s David Strahan told delegates that peak oil would have far reaching effects on the economy and ventured that a number of analysts believe we have already reached that peak.

He outlined how peaks in oil prices has always preceded major recessions and stressed that it was vital to address the extreme volatility of the oil markets if we are to break the damaging cycle of periods of over-production followed by scarcity.

He said that of the world’s 98 oil producing countries, 64 had now passed their production peak and called conservative estimates that global production would not peak before 2020 ‘delusional’.

“The consumption of oil in OECD countries has been receding since 2005 because the world cannot produce enough oil,” he said.

“I believe we would have been in recession even if there had been no global financial crisis. That crisis has been catastrophic, but so was the oil price spike [that saw oil reaching more than $160 per barrel].”

He stressed the urgency of moving away from oil dependence, saying that the most urgent task was to decarbonise the world’s electricity supply.

He argued that renewable could play a much greater role than they are usually credited for, but said that we needed to put a greater value on carbon to provide the necessary market drivers to stimulate their uptake.

“We need to find a way of keeping the effective energy price much higher to reflect it’s true value,” he said.

“And I believe that means we need to see the value of carbon set somewhere round £200 per tonne.”

Sam Bond

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