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ODAC Newsletter - Feb 18

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.

Brent crude surged to $104 this week as anti-government protests spread to Libya and Bahrain, prompting a violent reaction from the authorities in both countries. 24 protesters are reported killed in Libya, and in Bahrain 4 have been killed and hundreds injured. Unlike Libya, Bahrain is not a significant oil producer, but there are fears that instability there could spread to its neighbour Saudi Arabia.

Anyone looking for reassurance of business as usual from the usually ebullient big oil companies was in for sobering news this week. Shell's update to its 2008 Energy Scenarios forecast warns that the world faces an energy supply crunch. Meanwhile Exxon, like all the major oil companies, is struggling to replace its oil reserves: it has managed to replace only 95 of every 100 barrels produced over the last decade, and is increasingly forced to replace oil with gas. Meanwhile, as we reported last week, many analysts predict the North American shale gas bubble will soon burst.

In the face of growing evidence of oil supply constraints we were recently asked by one our readers to explain our position on when peak oil will occur. Why, he asked, since the BP Statistical Review shows oil production was lower in 2009 than 2008, did we not accept his view that the peak has already passed? Here's our position:

Just because output was lower in 2009 than 2008 does not necessarily mean the fall was geologically imposed. We think oil production was lower in 2009 than 2008 because of lower demand caused by the recession, itself caused in part by the spike in the oil price to $147/barrel. That in turn appears to have been the result of an effective plateau from around 2005 to 2008. What's more, output has risen strongly in 2010, rising by 2.8 million b/d in 2010 over 2009, and is forecast to rise by a further 1.5 million b/d this year (IEA - see http://omrpublic.iea.org/). In January this year, IEA figures, which are based on an all-liquids definition similar to the BP Stats, showed production at 88.5 mb/d, against 87.8 mb/d in July 2008. So already we are 700,000 b/d above the previous peak. Chris Skrebowski, ODAC trustee and independent forecaster, suggests the crunch will come in 2012/2013 at 92-94 mb/d. More generally we think that forecasting the precise date is now less important than preparing for the event. Whenever it comes, peak oil is far too close for comfort.

View our Reports and Resources page

Oil

Oil Rises in New York as Unrest in Mideast Fuels Supply Concern

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The coming misery that Big Oil discusses behind closed doors

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Exxon Struggles To Find New Oil

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High oil prices 'here to stay' says EU energy commissioner

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Iraq to auction 12 energy fields in 2011: ministry

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Chevron's $17 Billion Ecuador Judgment May Be Unenforceable, Analysts Say

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How much oil does Saudi Arabia actually have?

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North America

Lawmakers blast Obama's energy budget

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Gas

EU could meet carbon targets more cheaply with gas than renewables, say gas firms

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Gas Buyers Seek End of Europe's Two-Tier Pricing: Energy Markets

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Coal

China's coal imports set records in month, year

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Coal's Hidden Costs Top $345 Billion In U.S: Study

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Powerfuel revives UK clean coal hopes

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Nuclear

China enters race to develop nuclear energy from thorium

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Administration to Push for Small 'Modular' Reactors

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Nuclear industry windfall feared

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Renewables

Windfarms to bring communities average £20,000 a year

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Global solar power growth doubled in 2010: study

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Solar companies mull legal challenge to Huhne

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UK

Nobody seems to like the carbon floor price

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Crematorium To Heat Water For Town's Swimmers

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Warning of skills threat to green energy aims

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Geopolitics

Mideast Protests Spread to Libya Amid Bahrain Apologies, Clashes in Yemen

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Bahrain: why it matters to Saudi Arabia

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