I am grateful to Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party in Ireland, An Comhaontas Glas, for a recent tweet posting about the BP Statistical Review of Crude Oil Production  2014. This is the oil industry talking about how it sees the future unfolding. Against a backdrop of a 2.8 fold increase in oil prices since 2004, the Review explains that the main 20 oil producing countries in 2004 had a 26% of world oil production. That share has now dropped to 16%.

How come this has not resulted in a global oil shortage? The Review tells us that other countries, mainly Russia, Saudi Arabia and the USA have increased production to offset this oil shortage. However the USA uses all the oil it can produce and still imports about half its oil needs on top of that.

So Europe has to hope that Russia and Saudi Arabia co-operate with the EU and continue to sell us oil, albeit on THEIR terms. If we don’t like those terms, the next most plentiful suppliers are Iran, Iraq and Libya, not the most popular holiday destinations for European holiday-makers! Hopefully the peacemakers in these countries will succeed in bringing about peace and goodwill for all concerned in this region.

If we want to take our oil buying business elsewhere, we will probably be dealing with countries where oil production is in decline like Indonesia, Algeria, UK, Norway, Mexico and Venezuela. It is a racing certainty that one day soon, (if not already,) these countries will say they have no spare oil to export.

Ironically the growing threat of runaway climate chaos can only be averted if more countries stop using most of the available oil BEFORE it runs out. This may sound like an economic death wish, but it is really, on reflection, a prescription for a future sustainable economy. Not only sustainable, but more efficient, more community self-reliant and a more competitive economy. No more easily obtained oil also means a society where human work is more valued and more affordable than oil based energy which has done much to replace human work since it economically came on the scene 150 years ago.

A Shell oil company analyst, Rhodri Owens-Jones, speaking in Dublin recently, said that by 2060 solar power will be the biggest global source of primary energy. The question I would like to see analysed is ‘has the world enough metal and other materials to make enough solar panels to replace all the oil we currently burn’? Or have we a plan, in a structured urgent way, to power down energy demand in energy hungry countries, like

Harnessing the sun's energy in Cloughjordan Eco-Village, Co. Tipperary, Ireland's largest prototype solar park to date.

Harnessing the sun’s energy in Cloughjordan Eco-Village, Co. Tipperary, Ireland’s largest prototype solar park to date.

Ireland? The Shell analyst points to 2040 being the date that global oil production goes into terminal decline, or 2030, or sooner, unless we plan our homes, cities and economies to use far less oil.

Interesting facts from the oil industry. Can Governments continue to ignore them? Learning to live, grow food and run a country without burning oil is the ultimate challenge of political leadership.


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