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.

Oil demand will fall less in 2009 than previously forecast according to reports by both the IEA and EIA this week. This, along with news of a further reduction in US oil stocks, and a weak dollar saw prices soar above $70/barrel for the first time this year. The price is now close to the $75/barrel which oil producers have been saying is required for investment, at the same time however the increase threatens to dampen the fragile economic recovery.

Last year’s oil data came under the spotlight this week with Wednesday’s release of the BP Annual Statistical Review. In 2008 global proved oil reserves fell by 3bn barrels, global oil consumption fell for the first time since 1992, the year also marked the first time that oil consumption in the developing nations outstripped that of the OECD. CEO Tony Hayward acknowledged a “year of truly unprecedented developments”, before summarising optimistically that reserves were enough for decades to come and that challenges to supply growth are above ground and human rather than geological.

These human and above ground challenges are however exactly the problem. Tony Hayward is correct in saying that large amounts of oil reserves still exist (albeit that new discoveries are drying up), the problem is that the remaining reserves are no longer those which are easy to exploit. For insightful analysis on the report and its release see ODAC Trustee Richard Miller’s Guest Commentary.

In the UK it has been a torrid week for the government with cabinet resignations and disastrous local and European election results for Labour. There was one piece of good news for Gordon Brown this week as the National Institute for Economic and Social Research asserted on Wednesday that the UK economy is actually growing. Brown’s one shot at success now is a quick economic recovery; such a short-term political focus however threatens to stack up problems for the future. As Vince Cable of the UK Liberal Party wrote this week “Long-term thinking is difficult in the current political crisis, when most politicians are obsessed by tomorrow’s headlines,…but our future as a country depends much more on our ability to plan ahead for the next oil shock and the post-oil world.”

IEA raises 2009 oil demand forecast
Oil Climbs Above $72 as China Imports Rise, U.S. Supplies Drop
BP’s Tony Hayward warns of dwindling demand for oil
Guest Commentary: Dr. Richard Miller – ODAC Trustee
Global Oil Reserves Fell in 2008 on Russia, Norway, Says BP
Oil demand falls at fastest rate since 1982, says BP
Price of crude ‘right’ in $60-$90 range
Shell CEO warns next oil spike ‘may already be in the making’
Brazil readies oil reserves law
Iraq unveils foreign oil contract shortlist
Senate Panel OKs Expanded Oil and Gas Leasing in Eastern Gulf

U.S. Foresees a Thinner Cushion of Coal

China makes renewable power play to be world’s first green superpower

Early Signs That Economy Is Growing
BP’s grim warning over growing cost of North Sea oil
Heat capture technology could save UK 10m tonnes of carbon a year, says study
Kitchen bin war: tackling the food waste mountain

Oil – the next shock waiting in the pipeline

Major economies are ‘close to low point’
Should BP and Shell face the future together?