Peak Oil In The Australian, Once Again

The Australian's business editor has another skeptical article about peak oil out - Oil Age still has some time to run.

Its interesting that the term is starting to get a regular run in the mainstream media once again, now the oil price has more than doubled since its lows earlier in the year. We may be in for a busy spring again...

IF you think the running battle over climate change has been a long one, it's a pup compared with the peak oil debate.

Essentially, the question with oil is whether it's going to run out before our need to use it does.

The peak oil brigade say all the big and easy oilfields around the world have been discovered and global oil discovery has therefore peaked, while at the same time oil demand is showing no serious sign of dropping.

They started their campaign, albeit quietly, in the late 1970s, with the debate over the Hubbert curve -- the claim that oil discovery and production had moved in a curve rather than a straight line. Following on from that they posited that what went up must come down, in the form of a normal distribution curve.

BP's new annual tome on the state of the oil industry, the "BP Statistical Review of World Energy for 2009", sits on the fence on that one. It quotes chief executive Tony Hayward saying "the world has enough proved reserves of oil, natural gas and coal to meet the world's needs for decades to come".

The document, published last week and freely available on the BP website, has him then say that "the challenges the world faces in growing supplies to meet future demand are not below ground; they are above ground. They are human, not geological."

Well, thanks. We're left with two almost unrelated statements that don't take us very far at all. One is that oil reserves will expire at some indeterminate point in the future, which even the optimists would agree with, and the other is that supply will have to grow to meet future demand. ...

And remember, the world did fine without crude oil for 99.999999 per cent of humanity's history on Earth.

Yes..With one sixth the population.
And then we found oil.

I get "Permission denied" on the Defence letter node, though I can read it from the RSS feed. So I'll put my comment inappropriately here for the moment:

Is "resource and energy scarcity" a euphemism for peak oil?

Resource and energy scarcity is an important problem that Defence needs to consider. Peak oil is a catchphrase (invented in 2001 according to Kjell Aklekett's recent talk in Sydney). Everybody (including Kjell) says that Peak Oil is an observation/truism/fact. Using a finite resource, there must be a moment of peak flow. But it is also claimed that it is very important. Well you can't have it both ways. If it is a truism then it isn't necessarily important because as a truism it doesn't say how easy or difficult the downslope is. For example the peak of oil production might come because we find something better and lose interest in oil. Yes we know that isn't going to be the case, but if you want to claim that Peak Oil is very important then you have to say that there is some substantive fact under discussion, and indeed you have to say what it is. Given the repeated claim that it is a truism, Defence is correct in saying that it is not in itself a problem, and to look for what the real problems are.