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Canberra Times: World starts to run dry: oilmen

Published: Jul 23, 2007

Humanity is approaching an unprecedented crisis when not enough oil and gas will be produced to keep industrial civilisation running, the world’s top oilmen have warned.

The warning which is being hailed as a ”tipping point” in Europe and North America marks the first time that the industry has accepted that it may soon no longer be able to meet demand for its products.

A report, Facing the Hard Truths about Energy, gives authoritative support to concern about impending shortages, after a similar alert by the International Energy Agency less than two weeks ago.

The 420-page report, the most comprehensive study ever carried out into the industry, has been produced by the National Petroleum Council, a body of 175 authorities that reports to the US Administration. It involves the heads of the world’s big oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum, Shell and BP.

It is also remarkable for the conversion of its chairman, the recently retired chief executive of ExxonMobil, Lee Raymond, who led opposition against action to tackle global warming, and became environmentalists’ most prominent bogeyman.

The report argues for ”an effective global framework” to manage emissions of carbon dioxide ”incorporating all major emitters” and urges the US to cut the pollution that causes climate change. It concludes that ”the global supply of oil and natural gas from the conventional sources … is unlikely to meet … growth in demand over the next 25 years”.

It says that ”many observers think that 80 per cent of existing oil production will need to be replaced by 2030” to keep up present supplies ”in addition to volumes required to meet existing demand”. Though vast amounts of oil and gas remain underground, ”complex challenges” and ”global uncertainties” are likely to put an end to ”the sufficient, reliable and economic energy supplies upon which people depend”. And the crunch could come sooner, with oil production becoming ”a significant challenge as early as 2015”.

This is in line with the International Energy Agency’s prediction that oil supplies could become ”extremely tight” in five years.

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