John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, November 04, 2005
  DTI to Study Peak Oil
Energy Campaigner John Hemming MP has written to Malcolm Wicks MP to ask him to reveal more details of the planned "peak oil" study that was flagged up by the head of the Department of Trade and Industry's energy markets, Claire Durkin

Ms Durkin said on Wednesday "We can expect that an investigation will be announced within the next few weeks aimed at allowing a more open discussion on the arrival of "peak oil," the point at which worldwide oil production begins to decline,"

She was speaking to an industry gathering at London's Energy Institute. Durkin said that although the peak is widely acknowledged as inevitable it isn't an immediate prospect. "There is no imminent danger of global oil production peaking," she said, as new technologies and growing supplies outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries will meet market requirements. "

The speech comes as a diffuse coalition of geologists, economists and activists have been warning that global production could decline as early as 2007 as major oilfields mature. The government's acknowledgement of the problem was seen as an encouraging sea change by Chris Skrebowski, editor of the Energy Institute's Petroleum Review and proponent of the peak oil argument. "The Americans are waking up to peak oil, so now the UK is following their lead, but the government doesn't want to talk about it in case they scare people," Skreboswki said.

Skrebowski criticised Durkin's point that the DTI's role was to provide a stable environment for exploration investment rather than push oil majors to spend. He suggested the government had simply committed itself to letting oil companies solve the government's problem for them.

John Hemming MP said, "it is good that both the DTI and the Chief Scientific Advisor have recognised the need to give serious attention to this issue. I do think the DTI are being over optimistic and I have asked questions about the range of scenarios being considered by Sir David King. At least, however, the government has stopped turning a blind eye to the situation."

"I would like to know from the DTI, however, what the terms of reference of this study will be and how it will be made open to public scrutiny."
 
Comments:
The key issue with peak oil is, what will be the price of oil? It seems very likely that conventional ('easy') oil production has peaked. It is less relevant that unconventional oil production is still creeping up, as that is much more expensive and energy intensive to extract and process. Therefore arguments that 'total oil production will not peak for some time' are similar to the smokescreen statement, 'we are not running out of oil': they miss the point.
 
This is where ERoEI comes in.

Price depends upon demand as well. If we can get demand down then price will go down.
 
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