And Gas May Run Short By 2015
By Geoffrey Lean
22 July, 2007
is approaching an unprecedented crisis when not enough oil and gas will
be produced to keep industrial civilisation running, the world's top
oilmen warned last week.
The warning – which
is being hailed as a "tipping point" on both sides of the
Atlantic – marks the first time that the industry has accepted
that it may soon no longer be able to meet demand for its products.
In Facing the Hard Truths about Energy, it gives authoritative support
to concern about impending shortages, following a similar alert by the
International Energy Agency less than two weeks ago.
The 420-page report, the
most comprehensive study ever carried out into the industry, has been
produced by the National Petroleum Council, a body of 175 authorities
that reports to the US government. It includes the heads of the world's
big oil companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Occidental
Petroleum, Shell and BP.
It is also remarkable for
the conversion of its chairman, Lee Raymond, the recently retired chief
executive of ExxonMobil, who led opposition against action to tackle
global warming, and became environmentalists' most prominent bogeyman.
The report argues for "an effective global framework" to manage
emissions of carbon dioxide – "incorporating all major emitters"
– and urges the US to cut the pollution that causes climate change.
The report concludes that
"the global supply of oil and natural gas from the conventional
sources ... is unlikely to meet ... growth in demand over the next 25
years". It says that "many observers think that 80 per cent
of existing oil production will need to be replaced by 2030" to
keep up present supplies "in addition to volumes required to meet
existing demand." But, it adds, there are "accumulating risks
to replacing current production and increasing supplies".
Though vast amounts of oil
and gas remain underground, "complex challenges" and "global
uncertainties" are likely to put an end to "the sufficient,
reliable and economic energy supplies upon which people depend".
And the crunch could come sooner, with oil production becoming "a
significant challenge as early as 2015". This chimes with the International
Energy Agency's prediction that oil supplies could become "extremely
tight" in five years.
The predictions should send
a shiver down humanity's collective spine as a shortage of oil and gas
has been predicted to cause industrial collapse, market crashes, resource
wars and a rise in poverty. Some forecast that fascist regimes will
rise out of the chaos.
Chris Skrebowski, editor
of the Energy Institute's Petroleum Review, said the report's publication
showed the industry "'fessing up that it really has a problem on
its hands". Until now, he said, "companies, full of share
options, have been terrified of frightening the markets" by revealing
The report says the fuel
efficiency of cars should be increased "at the maximum rate possible"
and there should be a crackdown on 4x4s. It calls for "aggressive
energy efficiency standards for buildings, and measures to "set
an effective cost for emitting carbon dioxide" to combat global
© 2007 Independent News
and Media Limited
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