Australian Senate Oil Supply Report - Feb 12
Click on the headline (link) for the full text.
Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Parliament recognises Peak Oil as real
Bruce Robinson, ASPO-Au Convenor
This is the first time any Australian parliament has recognised Peak Oil as real.
The report is a most useful step forward. There is a lot of very valuable information in the depths of the report, giving a more balanced approach than the Executive Summary.
The report does follow somewhat the same path our conservative government has been taking for years with Global Warming, of tending to downplay the risks and consider only the best-case scenario.
Committee Chair, Government Senator Bill Heffernan, said in his tabling speech that Peak Oil was forecast in 20-40 years, if I recall his words correctly. This is in contrast to the many reliable forecasts that global oil production may probably peak in say 3-5 years or thereabouts. Inquiry originator, Senator Milne (Greens) was much better informed. In her summary speech she suggested that we may well be at Peak Oil now.
The report downplays the documented risks, gives high credence to biased US Government information and policies rather than to the warnings from independent petroleum scientists. The International Energy Agency is the OECD oil consuming nations’ counterbalance to the OPEC cartel, so it is far from unbiased. The IEA view is given far more credence and coverage by the Senate Committee than would be proper in an independent assessment of our oil vulnerability. However, the detailed report is more encouraging than one would assume from reading just the executive summary.
ASPO-Australia calls for an Intergovernmental Panel on Oil Depletion to be formed under the existing IPCC structure. It should provide a science-based view of the world oil production data, as free as possible from the political constraints which have influenced the Australian Senate report and also the US Government and IEA oil production estimates.
We also call on Australians to challenge the inertia and complacency of Federal and State Governments on the Peak Oil issue, just as is now happening with Climate Change. We should be preparing, well in advance, for the Petrol Droughts which are likely to come far sooner than Senator Heffernan would have us believe.
(10 Feb 2007)
Thats my headline not Bruce Robinson's; while technically true thanks to this report, there is no compulsion on the Howard government to act on its findings.-LJ
Review of Senate Report
Phil Hart, ASPO-Au
On Wednesday 7th February 2007, the Australian Senate received the Final Report on Australia's future oil supply and alternative transport fuels from the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee (link to index). The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) in Australia welcomes this report and hopes that it will raise the prominence of the issue in all levels of Government policy development. ..
By far the quickest and most cost-effective means of responding to the long term issues of peak oil and climate change is to make gains on the demand side. The Committee made several important, although hardly revolutionary recommendations: increase fuel efficiency of vehicles, investigate congestion charging, support use of rail for long distance freight and review fringe benefits taxation to reduce perverse incentives for car use.
The report's biggest failure was not to make stronger recommendations to encourage 'walking, cycling and public transport in cities'. The best they managed in this regard was to recommend the Commonwealth continue funding for Travelsmart projects.
This highlights a second widespread and fundamental concern with our system of governance: the acrimonious relationship and division of funding responsibilities between State and Federal Governments. The States have the basic responsibility to operate public transport services, but only the Federal Government has the funding capacity for the scale of infrastructure investment now required if, as the committee recommends, we are going to reduce our high level of dependence on oil. ..
We must hope that the style and substance of Australian Governments and international co-operation improves markedly and quickly, for responding to the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change requires new leadership and bold long term thinking. The right strategy will prioritise changing our values and behaviours to rein in extravagant consumption patterns.
The next step would be a Herculean effort to implement efficiency improvements and renewable energy technology. Attempting to satisfy never ending growth in oil and energy consumption, whatever the proposed source, only proves that we have yet to learn anything about living sustainably.
(8 Feb 2007)
Oil future raises burning questions
Nigel Wilson, The Australian
Investment in alternative fuels may be key to self-sufficiency
AT the height of last year's debate on oil prices, which led to governments increasing billion-dollar subsidies on LPG conversions for cars, a senate inquiry was launched into Australia's oil supply and the prospects for alternatives.
The inquiry was prompted by a question posed by the Greens: whether Australia should be concerned about "peak oil", the theory that conventional oil production will reach a peak and then begin an irreversible decline. Some would argue the world has already hit peak oil, but the consensus of peak oil theorists is that the peak will occur within the next 20 years.
Of course, oil industry officials, particularly at ExxonMobil, argue that oil supply is a function of price and that for the foreseeable future there will be supplies adequate to meet demand.
But it is certainly true that oil discoveries in Australia are failing to keep up with demand. ..
The federal Government in its 2004 energy white paper acknowledged that Australia's oil discovery rate was falling and that essentially the country would have to rely on imports. It suggested that this increase in the balance of payments could be offset by high volumes of LNG exports. But what the past two years have shown is that while the price of crude oil has soared, there has not been a similar sustained increase in export LNG prices.
This has been confirmed by the senate's rural and regional affairs committee, which warns in its report on the future oil supply and alternative transport fuels, released last week, that mandatory fuel-efficiency targets may have to be adopted for new cars, and major cities may have to adopt measures to halt vehicle congestion as a way of reducing demand.
The report says that Australia's demand for petroleum is more than 750,000 b/d and projected to rise to more than 800,000 b/d by the end of the decade and to more than 1.2 million b/d by 2029-30.
"Australia's net self-sufficiency in oil is expected to decline significantly as future discoveries are not expected to make up for the growth in demand and the decline in reserves as oil is produced," it states.
The committee argued that upstream developments needed to offset depletion of existing oil fields and to supply the growth in demand would require significant investment.
"All scenarios for future oil production assume increased exploitation of non-conventional oil (heavy oil, tar sands, shale oil) to offset declining conventional oil.
(12 Feb 2007)
Article goes on to review current and prospective oil and gas extraction projects.
High petrol prices a sign of worse to come
Media release, Public Transport Users Association (Australia)
Rising petrol prices over recent years are giving Australians a glimpse of the future, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) warned today. The warning came as a Senate Inquiry into future oil supplies highlighted growing doubts about the ability of global supplies to meet projected demand.
"The transport status quo is a recipe for disaster," said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. "We're burning oil as if there’s no tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes we'll find rampant climate change and major transport problems for car-dependent communities. All levels of government must refocus transport policy towards public transport, walking, cycling and rail freight to mitigate the inevitable decline in conventional oil supplies."
After more than a year of deliberations and receiving nearly 200 submissions, the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee yesterday released its final report on Australia's future oil supply and alternative transport fuels. The report highlighted declining self-sufficiency in oil production in Australia, question marks over the reliability of reserves data in the world's major oil producing countries, and limited potential for alternative fuels to replace oil given the current level of consumption.
"The Inquiry heard about a wide range of alternative fuels, but invariably these either face supply limitations of their own, or would create massive environmental problems like accelerated climate change," said Mr Bowen. "Just like the Sustainable Cities Parliamentary Inquiry before it, this report demonstrates the need for federal, state and local governments to get behind alternatives to motor car use before car-dependent families are left stranded."
In its submission to the Inquiry and in verbal evidence given to the Senate committee, the PTUA outlined a range of measures to help Australia cope with declining oil supplies and the inevitable increase in petrol prices that would follow. "By better integrating transport and landuse planning, the amount of travel could be reduced, and a larger share of this travel undertaken by public transport, walking and cycling," said Mr Bowen. "The major deficiencies currently afflicting our public transport systems also need urgent attention. This means establishing competent public transport agencies where they are currently absent, and expanding coverage, boosting frequencies, integrating services and improving reliability."
Mr Bowen also warned that lowering petrol taxes and expanding road networks would be expensive follies. "Freeways encourage more driving and more urban sprawl, neither of which are appropriate in an age of climate change and declining oil supplies. It's time to end the road fetish and focus on sustainable solutions," concluded Mr Bowen.
(8 Feb 2007)