Oil Supply as a Strategic Risk  

Posted by Big Gav in

The NYT has an article about a recent paper in "Nature" of peak oil - Oil Supply as a Strategic Risk.

Concerns about the climate have not inspired a lot of action lately on global energy policy. Now two professors are arguing that supply concerns and rising oil prices ought to be enough to get governments moving, even if the climate does not.

In an opinion piece released on Wednesday by the journal Nature, James Murray of the University of Washington and David King of the University of Oxford point out that global oil production appeared to hit a cap of about 75 million barrels a day in 2005. Since then, they note, small supply bumps have caused big price gyrations, yet even when prices spike above $100 a barrel, supply appears incapable of rising to meet the demand.

The professors make only a glancing mention of the term “peak oil,” a widely promoted and widely attacked concept, but their argument resembles some of the less feverish versions of the peak oil case.

They essentially argue that oil supply now represents a large strategic risk to global economic growth, and that smart governments ought to be developing comprehensive plans and pushing hard to move their citizens into more efficient cars, onto public transit and so forth – a greener energy path that would also be good for the climate. ....

Variations of the oil-peaked-in-2005 argument have been made by others, but rarely in the pages of Nature, the world’s most august scientific journal. I would expect this one to get a lot of attention, and probably a lot of criticism because of its high profile. One gap I see is that the professors fault the United States government for inaction but never mention some of the things it is doing, like imposing tougher regulations on the fuel efficiency of cars. Dr. Murray said in an e-mail that the authors were limited by space constraints.

The required energy transformation “will take decades, so we must begin as soon as possible,” the professors write. “Emphasizing the short-term economic imperative from oil prices must be enough to push governments into action now.”

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