Canberra report highlights global peak oil predicament

by Chris Harries

Don”t feel too bad if you”ve never heard of Report 117, until recently nobody had.

Turns out the report”s conclusion was too much for some to handle, so the federal government decided not to publish it back in 2009. Leaked to a French agency early in Decemer 2011, this is a thoroughly researched run down of the global peak oil predicament and concludes that we”ll start to see a terminal decline happening by around 2016.

The Report”s findings, at a glance
“…when an aggregation is done across the globe, it is predicted that world production of conventional oil is currently just past its highest point (conventional oil is oil pumped from wells on land or in water less than 500 metres deep). A predicted shallow decline in the short run should give way to a steeper decline after 2016.

However, deep water and non-conventional oil production are growing strongly, turning a slight decline into a plateau for total crude oil (non-conventional oil is heavy and viscose or indeed tar-like oil). Given the growth in deep and non-conventional balancing the shallow decline in conventional production, it is predicted that we have entered about 2006 onto a slightly upward slanting plateau in potential oil
production that will last only to about 2016—eight years from now (2008).

For the next eight years it is likely that world crude oil production will plateau in the face of continuing economic growth. After that, the modelling is forecasting what can be termed ‘the 2017 drop-off’. The outlook under a base case scenario is for a long decline in oil production to begin in 2017, which will stretch to the end of the century and beyond. Projected increases in deep water and non-conventional oil, which are ‘rate-constrained’ in ways that conventional oil is not, will not change this pattern.

…The outlook is not really changed much if a scenario of increased Middle East oil production is played out. The result of that scenario is that oil production continues its growth for longer and then falls far more precipitously. Arguably, this could be a worse scenario, as far as the casino online world being able to cope comfortably with the transition.

The possible effect of higher prices in bringing forward production would have a similar effect. Higher prices might also stimulate exploration but are no guarantee of significant further discovery.

Thus at some point beyond 2017 we must begin to cope with the longer-term task of replacing oil as a source of energy. Given the inertias inherent in energy systems and vehicle fleets, the transition will be necessarily challenging to most economies around the world.

Coping with the supply reductions will be compounded by the fact that shrinking oil supply will interact with measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to address climate change. While there are opportunities for joint solutions, there will also be conflicting demands. For example, two of the more obvious sources of alternative motive energy are coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids. Both of these would involve increased emissions.”

“Transport energy futures: long-term oil supply trends and projections” was written on behalf of the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), which comes under the federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. The Minister was Anthony Albanese. You can download the complete report, complete with explanatory tables and charts from HERE.

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