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.

OPEC’s meeting in Vienna on Thursday was low on surprises. The group decided against making further cuts in oil production and will instead concentrate on enforcing existing quotas. The oil price, while not at the $75/barrel which Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi sees as fair, is back at a level which will allow members to balance their budgets. Earlier in the week al-Naimi stated that the beginnings of a revival in demand are underway, especially in Asia.

But according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), any global economic recovery is at risk from plunging investment in the energy sector. In a paper prepared for last weekend’s meeting of G8 Ministers in Rome, the agency estimates that the financial crisis has led to a 21% drop in oil & gas investment over the past year. The paper (for the Executive summary see Reports & Resources) also calls on governments to invest far more in clean energy than has been announced in green stimulus packages thus far. The IEA says what is needed “far exceeds the additional investments that are expected to occur”, and appears to be ratcheting up its warnings around both energy security and climate change.

UK Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, was questioned about his views on peak oil, last Friday when he dropped in on the 2009 Transition Network Conference as a “keynote listener”. Miliband’s view is that “climate change makes the debate about peak oil a bit of a second order debate” since we already need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

This view is worryingly simplistic. The worst impacts of peak oil are likely to hit far sooner than the worst impacts of climate change, and will massively complicate the policy response to global warming. Arguably this has already started, manifested in the oil price spike, the recession, the oil price collapse, the slump in renewables investment, the flight to coal and widespread political backsliding. The shift to a low carbon economy that Mr Miliband envisages will take time, particularly at the glacial pace of British energy policy, and now even the IEA seems to be saying that time is running out.

OPEC Keeps Production Unchanged, Sees Demand Recovery
IEA repeats warning of possible new oil price spike
Oil price hits six-month high
The oil price: Bust and boom
Saudi warns of $150 oil within three years
Global energy demand seen up 44 pct by 2030-EIA
Getting desperate

Middle East faces gas shortages
No Kremlin Guarantee of Gas to EU
Russia Faces Uncertain Times Selling Natural Gas to Europe

Concentrated solar power could generate ‘quarter of world’s energy’
Global electricity use forecast to fall

Subsidise nuclear power stations or they won’t be built, energy giant warns ministers
Pressure rises on Miliband’s energy policy

IEA’s dire warning on green stimulus and renewables

Royal Dutch Shell restructuring to affect 24,000 jobs
TNK-BP management crisis rumbles on

Ed Milliband Visits the Transition Network Conference as a ‘Keynote Listener’
Cheap borrowing under threat as S&P sounds alarm over Britain’s ballooning deficit
UK ‘must build more rail lines’
Hoon eyes new transport climate accord