Peter Newman: Global downturn cushioned peak oil impact  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The ABC has an article quoting Peter Newman and Kjell Aleklett talking about peak oil and the credit crunch (personally I think oil prices were just one factor causing the GFC, and not the main one) - Global downturn cushioned peak oil impact.

One of the Federal Government's top infrastructure advisers is warning of an oil crunch that could send the global economy spiralling back toward recession.

Curtin University Professor Peter Newman sits on the Government's Infrastructure Australia Council and says peak oil - when demand outstrips dwindling supply - has already hit but that the global downturn has kept prices low.

Professor Newman even blames oil for causing the global recession in the first place, and he is not alone.

It is an issue being taken seriously by some local councils which have drawn up peak oil contingencies. Proponents of the scenario said the cost of oil and therefore petrol would rise exponentially in the first decade of this century when increasing demand outstripped finite supply.

With oil now hovering at about $US85 a barrel it does not seem to have happened - at least in the original timeframe. But Professor Newman says the world reached peak oil in 2008 when it spiked at about $140 a barrel and sent petrol prices soaring.

"Peak oil did happen I believe in 2008 and it didn't happen because some oil exporting country had a revolution or something. It just happened because we couldn't produce enough to meet the demand," he said.

Professor Newman largely blames the global financial crisis on oil prices. "Subprime mortgages were mostly out on the urban fringes miles away from work. People had to drive and when the price of fuel tripled in American cities they couldn't pay their mortgages," he said.

As the global economy has strengthened in recent months so has the oil price, and Professor Newman says it does not bode well for recovery. "As the demand increases again the supply crunch will happen and the price will go up," he said.

Peak oil solutions

Professor Kjell Aleklett, the Swedish-based president of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, is in agreement with his Australian counterpart. "The fact is that we are producing less oil now than we did in 2008, so just now we have 2008 as the peak year for peak oil," he said.

Professor Aleklett says he thinks the world will find a way around the problem simply because it will grind to a halt if it does not.

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