Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK registered charity dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.
As ODAC went to press the oil price was back in the mid $90s again, on evidence of resilient (Asian) demand in the face of tightening supply: one OPEC minister ruled out an output hike at the cartel's March meeting, Venezuela cut off supplies to ExxonMobil, and there was more bleak news on the Mexican production outlook.
Total reported disappointing production growth in 2007 of 1.5% — well short of its earlier forecast of 7% — and reserves replacement of just 78%. The French company did better than its peers — output from BP, Shell and Exxon fell last year — but its performance still reflects the worsening position of the super-majors, which now account for barely an eighth of global oil production.
The US and the UK continue to flirt with recession, and the IEA cut its demand forecast for 2008, but there was also evidence of continuing strong demand in China and Japan, with the result that oil is now back above $96.
City thinking on peak oil continues to develop. George Monbiot ('Apart from used chip fat...') who has blown hot and cold on this issue in the past, cites a new report from Citibank that forecasts "genuine difficulties" in increasing the production of crude oil, "particularly after 2012". The Citibank note, entitled "The Pump...decline and fall", arose from a briefing by Chris Skrebowski, editor of the Petroleum Review and an ODAC trustee, which the analysts evidently found compelling. With global oil production still on plateau since 2005 despite the soaring price, they concluded: "four years of failed supply response have shifted the burden of proof away from the sceptics and onto the supply optimists". This report can be found on the ODAC website under Reports & Resources.
Meanwhile, Jeff Currie, head of commodities at Goldman Sachs, gave an alarming interview predicting famine as a result of the convergence of energy and agricultural markets through biofuels. Goldman's most recent report on energy and commodities can also be found at the ODAC website. The Telegraph summarized Goldman's argument as '"Peak oil" is morphing into "peak food"'.
The good news is that the state government of Queensland has adopted a policy on peak oil. Launching the initiative, Queensland's Minster for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Andrew McNamara, noted that in the past 2 weeks General Motors' boss had said that world oil production has already peaked, while Shell's Chief Executive had forecast the peak of "easy oil" within seven years. The Minister concluded "These are voices that the world can't afford to ignore". Unless, he might have added, you are a member of the British government.
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EB editor: to acccess the stories below, go to the original.
Government Strategy to Reduce Oil Demand 8 Feb 2008
Total flags sector-beating growth in coming years 13 Feb 2008
Venezuela halts oil supplies to ExxonMobil 13 Feb 2008
ConocoPhillips Sees Dramatic Rise in Oil-Sands Output 13 Feb 2008
A sharp fall in oil income is foreseen by the Finance Ministry 13 Feb 2008
Why the price of 'peak oil' is famine 9 Feb 2008
IEA cuts forecast for oil demand 13 Feb 2008
Russia and Ukraine reach deal in gas dispute 12 Feb 2008
BP and Rosneft halt Sakhalin drilling 13 Feb 2008
Is the answer to Britain’s woes beneath our feet? 13 Feb 2008
Utilities Turn From Coal to Gas, Raising Risk of Price Increase 5 Feb 2008
A ‘Bold’ Step to Capture an Elusive Gas Falters 3 Feb 2008
Climate scientist they could not silence 10 Feb 2008
'Blackout emergency measures working' 12 Feb 2008
Anatomy of a catastrophe 11 Feb 2008
Apart from used chip fat, there is no such thing as a sustainable biofuel 12 Feb 2008
Clessidra buys into Wales woodchip plant builder 11 Feb 2008
Biofuel farms make CO² emissions worse 9 Feb 2008
Swamp fever 9 Jan 2008
British Energy in talks on reactors 14 Feb 2008
True scale of C0² emissions from shipping revealed 13 Feb 2008
Oil chief fears climate inaction 13 Feb 2008
Climate change could kill thousands in UK by 2012, says report 12 Feb 2008
Setback for Darling's 'green fund' initiative 11 Feb 2008
Bush places $170bn bet on retail therapy 14 Feb 2008
G7 is told worldwide losses from sub-prime crisis could be $400bn 11 Feb 2008
Wheat soars as stocks decline 9 Feb 2008
King warns of threats to UK growth 14 Feb 2008
Hopes of rate cut are dashed by inflation rise 13 Feb 2008
Charity warns of housing crash as repossessions rise by 20 per cent 9 Feb 2008
Flood-risk homes 'may be uninsurable' 14 Feb 2008
Petrol sellers add voice to fuel tax protest 13 Feb 2008
Aircraft numbers may double by 2026 8 Feb 2008
GM suffers record $39bn loss 13 Feb 2008
London jams worsen despite traffic charge 12 Feb 2008
£6,000 a year to drive your Chelsea tractor into town 13 Feb 2008