First of all, let me wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's day! This is my first thread on p.ie so please be kind Now, on to the topic of peak oil. This issue is more particularly relevant these days as the prices at the pumps climb higher and higher. If anyone reading is not fully sure what it meant by the term peak oil please see Peak oil - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I have searched the forums for “peak oil” and I'm not sure if there has yet been a thread dedicated to this issue yet. I may be wrong.
Anyhow, it is true that the current unrest in the middle east has put upwardly pressure on oil prices as, after all, more than half of the estimated remaining reserves are in the Middle East. The following graph shows the price trend of a barrel of crude for the period 2000 to 2010.
Crude oil price chart, 2000-2010
As this graph demonstrates (assuming that it is accurate) the price has climbed consistently over the last decade with a huge peak in 2008. Anyway, the general trend is upwards and will presumably continue in this fashion into the future.
To me, it seems that a peak in oil production followed by a gradual decline in global production is a mathematical certainty. So, this leads to when and a what - when is this likely to happen and what are the consequences of this event?
On the when question, may it have already happen and perhaps production is on a plateau? Are we in the post peak phase? This might explain the consistent increase in crude oil prices in the last decade? However, increasing global demand due to the industrialisation of countries such as China and India could could also explain the increasing price of crude. Or general price inflation maybe? Or pure speculation on the oil markets? I just don't know. However, if there is so much of it remaining, then why can't more be extracted from the known remaining reserves so that increasing supply meets increasing demand and the price remains fairly consistent taking inflation into account.
Now, on to the what question, if global oil production has peaked or does peak in the next decade then what are the implications for the world economy and our technology based lifestyles? This is a major issue for developed countries such as Ireland that have a huge dependency on crude oil. The following wiki explains shows the essential role that crude oil plays in the modern world.
Petroleum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Here at home, we have a allowed a very car dependent culture to develop due to bad planning decisions – residential development far from major centers of employment (the Dublin commuter belt for example), one-off housing in rural areas and relatively poor public transportation. All our petroleum is imported. And it doesn't stop at transportation - plastics, pesticides, fertilisers,solvents,pharmaceuticals etc. etc. are all derived from crude oil.
Anyway, I'm just interested in hearing folks' thoughts on this topic. Will it happen soon or has it happened already? And what are the implications of this when and if it does? Thanks for reading.