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Jeremy Leggett discusses the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security

Chris Vernon, The Oil Drum: Europe
Last week saw the publication of The Oil Crunch, securing the UK’s energy future (discussed on TOD here). This is the first report from a taskforce of leading UK companies and sounds the alarm bell on peak oil. The group formed around 18 months ago through a common concern that peak oil and energy security are not receiving the attention they deserve.

Jeremy Leggett, Chairman of Solarcentury and taskforce member has provided The Oil Drum with an interview with “an anonymous cynical journalist”. He discusses the thinking behind the report, the credit crunch, the global oil industry’s culture towards the future and the report’s recommendations.
Another 40,000 word report on energy. Why should we be bothered to read this one?

Jeremy Leggett: Leading British companies, across a broad spectrum of industry, are warning that a premature peak in global oil production is a grave risk to the world economy just three to five years from now, and maybe earlier. Our fundamentally oil-addicted global economy is geared for rising oil supply for several decades to come, so an unexpected oil crunch would compound the damage being inflicted by the credit crunch. “Toxic” reserves are in danger of becoming for the oil industry what toxic derivatives have become for the financial industry. Having failed to act proactively to head off the credit crunch, we must not make the same mistake with the oil crunch. When the oil price was near $150 earlier this year, panicking politicians flew around the world trying to do something about it. Even with significant reductions in demand, we risk oil prices far higher than $150 after peak oil hits.

Are you sure peak oil is so close? BP, ExxonMobil, and the Department of Business say you are not just wrong, but misguided.

JL: The global oil industry tends to lack of transparency where reserves and future oil prospects are concerned, and there are uncertainties as a consequence. But we believe the analysis we present – of a peak and descent in global oil supplies by 2013 at the latest – is, on the very strong balance of probabilities, correct, and that there is more downside risk than upside. Shell contributed a chapter to our risk assessment. Their opinion, which we had expected might be a summary of the case counter to our collective concerns, is in fact not much more encouraging than our own view. They forecast a flattening of production around 2015, and a plateau beyond, provided that the oil industry is given fairly open access to unconventional and otherwise difficult sources of oil.
(9 November 2008)

Total sees nuclear energy for growth after peak oil

Simon Webb, Reuters
French oil and gas giant Total is targeting nuclear energy to drive growth long after oil and gas output peak, a top executive said on Monday.

“In the future, energy demand will be constrained by tight supply,” Arnaud Chaperon, Total’s senior vice president for electricity and new energies, said in a presentation to a nuclear energy conference in Qatar.

“Oil and gas will still play a big role in the energy balance. But in the electrification of the world economy, nuclear will play a major role, together with the development of solar and other renewables … That is why Total is very interested in developing nuclear and renewables.”

Global oil output was likely to peak toward the end of the next decade, while gas would follow a decade or so later, he said. Total executives had said previously they expected global oil production to level off just short of 100 million barrels per day around 2020, up from current output of about 85 million bpd.
(10 November 2008)

On theoretical, scientific or ideological grounds

John Busby, Sanders Research Associates
Christof Rühl is chief economist of oil major BP and has given an interview to Euractiv an independent multi-lingual website published in Brussels and circulated widely in the EC Commission and Directorates. His main purpose was to de-bunk the peak oil philosophy (if that is what it is!) for which he has “no reason to accept either on theoretical, scientific or ideological grounds”.

However, he ran into a bit of trouble…

BP’s chief economist Christof RuhlHe went to Brussels to present BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2008, but failed to take cognisance of its figures.

His circumvolutory discourse can be read by reference to the links below, but rather than attempt to follow his reasoning as to why there is “Oil a-plenty” it is simpler to plot the actual figures as they appear in the BP Statistical Review.

… Taking into account the lack of substantial new discoveries, which are in their aggregate but a fraction of annual consumption, it is quite likely that the long-awaited peak in oil production has passed!
(10 November 2008)