John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
  Oil Depletion Protocol Launched
When the laws of physics come up against the laws of economics the laws of physics always win.

The Oil Depletion Protocol - see link - is designed to handle the real consequences of the limits of the availability of Oil. Conventional oil production has already peaked, but gas and other types of oil will probably peak in production in about 2010. There is no technological quick fix that resolves this issue.

Historically energy supplies came mainly from wood, charcoal, coal, oil, gas with some nuclear and hydroelectric etc. Until the point at which Hydrocarbons peak there has always been an easier to use and generally better energy source. After that point it is human behaviour that will need to consciously change to deal with the new constraints.

We are already seeing ripples in the supply chain. The issue of "Peak Oil" is now discussed more frequently. Even the IEA accept that oil production could peak by 2015 if there is "insufficient investment". The larger oil extracters' tactics are shifting gradually.

Unlike action to deal with climate change which is a self-denying ordnance, peak oil will be an external factor that will drive change. There will basically be less oil available each year - and there will be price problems.

If we do not adjust oil consumption voluntarily then price mechanisms will ratchet in the system. My big concern is for the financially weaker members of society. That is why I have sympathy with tradeable energy quotas. However, for the moment the conventional wisdom is that oil production is nowhere near peaking. That conventional wisdom will shift, but probably after it has peaked.
 
Comments:
Why does peak oil mean this big change?
Its when we have used up 50% of the (accessable) oil reserves, that means we still have 50% left, which even at our quick useage will last a fair while. Add to that new reserves being discovered and new technology to get oil from reserves we couldn't access before and peak oil could be further away than people think...

Add to that, its very very dangerous to rely on peak oil arguments to try and reduce oil consumption. We should be arguing directly with the reason we want to reduce oil consumption- to reduce harm to the environment.

Peak oil is a distraction: if oil supplies reduce then prices will rise, new alternatives will be developed, we will have to adjust, but that's the case with any change.
 
In essence I have dealt with that point. Previous shifts in energy source have been to better ones. Now we need to use a less convenient source of energy (or will have to do so in the coming years).
 
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