Peak Oil is You

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Page added on February 27, 2009

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The oil story and a glimpse at future chapters

…In the next chapter, as the global economy recovers and the demand for oil increases, supplies will once again come under pressure and the price will rise. This rising price will increase the cost of goods and services. “Given that crude oil fuels 36.4% of the world’s energy consumption, the seriousness of shortages cannot be underplayed,” writes William Marsden in The Vancouver Sun (Jan. 17/09). “Our reliance on oil is almost total. It fuels 100% of air and sea transport and most of our land transport.” It also supplies us with plastics, fertilizers, medicines, building materials, clothes, tires and innumerable other products of the petro-chemical industry. The rising price of oil will eventually slow the global economy, demand for oil will fall and, in the latter part of this chapter, the price will come down again.

These extreme price fluxuations that are interspersed with economic recessions are the early consequences of a diminishing supply of oil trying to service an oil-based economy that is running out of oil. And these erratic prices mark the beginning of the end of the so-called Age of Oil.

Oil will still be available — at least, the balance of the 1.2 trillion barrels that remains in the ground. But this oil will be progressively more difficult to extract, will be of lesser quality and may be difficult to remove in sufficient quantities — note Alberta tar sands — to meet our modern demands of 30 billion barrels per year. Indeed, if the estimates of the remaining oil deposits are correct — and they likely are — our total reserves of oil at present consumption rates will last another 39 years.

But supply problems will begin long before we have exhausted the resource. When demand starts to exceed supply, we will reach a place called “peak oil”. One expert estimates that this shortage of supply will occur in 2011. Another thinks 2012. Most others think it will occur within 10 years. Optimists think 15 years.

Canwest News Service

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