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Australian Deputy Prime Minister acknowledges peak oil

BARRIE CASSIDY: You had problems with petrol prices in 2001 of course and you took the heat off that. Is there anything that you can do this time around as a government?

JOHN ANDERSON, AUSTRALIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I think a lot of the heat that time related to the fact that the community believed that we were not doing enough to share the burden of increased petrol prices, so we reduced excise to a small amount and we also cancelled all further indexation, and indeed if we hadn't done that petrol prices now would be of the order of five cents a litre higher. I don't think the community believes this time - and they are right - they don't believe that in some way we are the problem, but I have to say I do share the community's quite deep concern about the outlook at the moment because it really is related to very heavy demand for fuel around the place, limitations of global refining capacity and, I have to say it, the very real prospect that at some stage in the next few short years global production may very well peak and it may be hard to increase it further at a time when countries like China, of course, are looking for a lot more fuel and even in places like Australia our dependence on oil, on petrol and transportation continues to increase.

BARRIE CASSIDY: So you are essentially saying that this time the community will simply have to ride it out?

JOHN ANDERSON: Well, I would make several points - the first is that, presumably, refining capacity can still at this point in time be increased, that in fact the higher fuel prices will drive that in a sense. As farmers often say about commodity prices, you know, higher prices solve the problem because people crank up production. I hope that happens and, of course, currency movements also impact. I would also make the point that, quite frankly, this is one of the reasons why I believe, in common with legislators in most other Western countries, that we need to be determinedly looking at alternative fuels, both extenders and new fuels and that includes biofuels. But I don't want to fudge and say that there is an easy answer to this. The realities of global fuel refining are quite stark.

Editorial Notes: Original poster notes: But in The Canberra Times, Monday 10 May, page 16, only a week ago, a "spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said to link current spiralling prices with oil reserves was ridiculous, given the instability of the oil-rich Middle East." ""The Greens like the idea of catastrophe, It didn't happen in the 1970's (when they first predicted one) and it won't happen now," he said." [ full article ] A 180 degree turn in the space of a week. Tells you something about the abysmal level of understanding amongst people whose job is to know these things. source: EnergyResources mailing list

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