The ABC of oil
The Green Party says it's time for the Government to get real on rising oil prices.
This follows yesterday afternoon's announcement by Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi that OPEC has lost control of oil prices because they are already pumping as fast as they can. (Please see www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7190109/)
"Yesterday morning Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard was trying to soothe the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee by saying that 'oil prices will still settle back to US$30 a barrel'," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said.
"Last month, Finance Minister Michael Cullen stood by Treasury's prediction that oil prices will fall to around US$35 a barrel. Both positions totally lack credibility now that OPEC ministers have admitted that they can't keep up with demand."
Crude oil for April delivery rose to US$56.46 a barrel yesterday, the highest price on the New York exchange since crude oil futures trading began in March 1983, following OPEC's admission. Meanwhile, at least one oil industry analyst is saying that oil may rise to US$100 a barrel before demand slows.
"It's time we listened to the Arabs and the analysts instead of Bollard and Cullen and faced up to a future of rising fuel prices. The Government still has a small window of opportunity to reduce New Zealand's dependence on oil before price rises really start to hurt.
"Step One: acknowledge the problem is real and urgent.
"Step Two: act now. Vehicle fuel efficiency standards would result in needing half as much fuel as we use now to travel the same distance.
"Step Three: invest in more public transport powered by renewables, more in rail for freight and passengers, and more in walking and cycling.
"Step Four: encourage more local production and become less dependent on long-distance overseas trade for low-value commodities.
"It is time for serious action rather than more talk," Mr Donald said.
Our oil consumption has been so extravagant that we have used up, in just one century, almost half of the planet’s cheaply available oil supply. As we use up the planet's supply of easily accessible oil, it becomes increasingly difficult to increase extraction rates. At some point in the near future we will reach a maximum extraction rate after which it becomes physically impossible to increase production rates no matter how hard you pump. But demand will continue to rise. At the point that demand outstrips supply, oil prices will rise steadily. No-one can say for sure when, but independent, experienced petroleum geologists believe we may have less than ten years. The end of cheap oil is coming towards us and we are not ready. Only the Greens are planning for how to cope.See: www.greens.org.nz/campaigns/peakoil/ -AF