Bracing For the Day The Oil Runs Out

London conference on peak oil presented both sides of the debate, but everyone is agreed that when peak oil does happen, its impact on the world economy.

Published: 19-Jan-2006

As the oil price nudged above $64 a barrel yesterday on heightened concerns about disruption to supplies from Iran and Nigeria, a small group of geologists, economists and commodity traders was meeting in London to consider a more fundamental question: when will the world begin to run out of oil?

That moment is known as "peak oil" - the point at which production stops increasing and goes into inexorable decline. Some commentators believe that moment may be as little as two years away, some reckon we do not need to worry for another 20 years and some think the peak of production is so far in the distance that it is pointless to even try to put a timescale on it.

But one thing that all shades of opinion are agreed on is that when peak oil does happen, its impact on the world economy - and the consumer lifestyles so many of us take for granted - will be profound. Chris Skrebowski, the editor of the Energy Institute's Petroleum Review, believes peak oil will occur in 2008, at which point the world will move into "a land without maps where we are all likely to be poorer".


Visits to China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan are significant because the trip spells out the Saudi Kingdom's Look East policy, representing a new reorientation in its foreign policy that was heavily tilted toward the West.

The worst two scenarios suggest a drastic decline in output to 875,000 barrels a day by the end of 2007 and to just 520,000 a day by the end of 2008.

Bush said he envisioned a future in which a plug-in hybrid car could drive 40 miles on a lithium-ion battery, then stop at a filling station for ethanol, a fuel usually made from corn, similar to HyMotion Prius pictured below.


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