Sunday, April 6, 2008

What is peak oil?


That exotic phrase-- peak oil -- was completely
new to me until I heard it from historian
Dr. Floro Quibuyen,a renowned Rizalist.
He explained that peak oil is the year
in which oil production reaches its maximum
and in which half the oil in the world
will have been burned; henceforth,there
will be a continuous decrease in
oil production.

However, Dr. Quibuyen clarified that
peak oil does not mean “running out
of oil, but rather a steadily decreasing
supply, increasing costs and causing
major changes in the way we live”.
He warned that without timely mitigation,
the economic, social, and political
costs of the peak oil phenomenon will be
unprecedented.

The shocking news is that peak oil arrived
in 2006 but was announced only a year later,
on 22 October 2007 by a body called the
Energy Watch Group This was corroborated by
the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell who ventured
that by 2015, if not earlier, oil supply
may very well fall behind the demand and when
that occurs, the market prices of this
seemingly irreplaceable source of energy
and everything remotely related to it
will inevitably reach astronomical proportions.

What are we to do in this country where
peak oil has not even entered public
discourse? No one seems to bother about
the Uppsala and Kyoto Protocols ; we
can surmise that only members of the academe,
like Dr. Quibuyen, have bothered to study
these documents. It has taken media
three years, 2005-2008. to make
superficial mention of this thing
called peak oil.

On 2 March 2005, Dr. Quibuyen spoke
about peak oil at national conference,
“The Philippines between Asia
and Oceania” at the Asian Center,
of the University of the Philippines.
Some of his colleagues teased him
about being a “prophet of doom”;
no one said that we must all prepare
for what seems like an impending
disaster.

What could the repercussions of
peak oil be? According to Dr. Quibuyen,
if the decline in oil production surpasses
the ability of alternative technologies to
replace oil, energy consumption will be
severely constricted, as consumers compete
for increasingly scarce oil resources.
The situation may resemble past oil supply
shocks, all of which had brought about
significant economic changes. For example,
disruptions in supply during the
Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 and the
Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 caused
unprecedented increases in the
prices of oil and petroleum products
and subsequent world recessions.

Dr. Quibuyen expounded:
“Ultimately, however, the consequences
of a peak and permanent decline in oil
production could be even more prolonged
and severe than those of past oil supply
shocks. Because the decline will be neither
temporary nor reversible, the effects will
continue to be felt until alternative
transportation technologies that replace
oil become available in sufficient
quantities and at competitive costs.”

Following the peak which according to
Dr. Quibuyen had arrived two years ago,
oil production is expected to
decline increasingly as years go by
and there had better be a corresponding
increase in alternative fuels and
technologies or the world will be in deep
trouble.





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1 comment:

DJB Rizalist said...

I used to "believe" in the idea of peak oil myself. But there are some second thoughts about the end of the Age of Oil. It is likely that oil and gas exploration efforts will continue for quite some time to come (for example in the Spratlys) because believe it or not there really aren't many proven alternatives to oil and its myriad applications, which go farther than just energy. It's a major source of impt materials, like plastic, fertilizers, pesticides. etc.

There is even the theory that there is a very large amount of oil undiscovered deep in the earth, and that the stuff doesn't even come from fossils at all but archaeo bacteria that still exist in vast quantities about 50 miles down (5 times deeper than we've ever drilled).

O'course the best possible alternative, overall, is nuclear, but people are gonna have to grow up some more yet before that becomes the common sense.