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What is Peak oil?

Reserves of oil will come to an end one day, but how far away is that?

oil drill

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What is Peak Oil?

Peak Oil gives an indication of how the world's oil stocks are going. It is not about how much oil is left, but how easy it is to get at that oil.

Unsurprisingly, the oil fields that are the easiest (and therefore the cheapest) to drill are used up first, and the rate of oil produced is very high.

Once these easy fields are used up, however, we have to use the oil fields that are more difficult (and therefore more expensive) to drill - and the rate of oil production begins to go down.

Peak oil the point at which maximum production levels have been reached. After the peak has passed, worldwide production levels go into a downward spiral.

When will Peak Oil happen?

Some individual oil fields have already passed their peak production period, and some countries have as well. Australia's main source, Vietnam, has passed its peak oil point.
Current estimates indicate that global peak oil might occur around 2020, but it depends on a number of factors. Chief executive of Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, believes peak oil will hit in 2015.

Obviously the less oil we use now, the longer it will be before Peak Oil hits, which is why moves to renewable energy sources are important in conserving production rate.

So if oil production goes down, what does that mean?

Oil will become harder to get and more expensive. This will have knock-on effects both at the petrol pump and in industry. Many plastics, detergents, fertilisers, and adhesives are made with oil, and alternatives will have to be found to replace it. Imagine how your life would change if you could no longer use plastic! Without effective alternatives, there will be an enormous impact on the world economy.

There is also the question of the nationalisation of oil. Oil-rich countries such as Venezuela are nationalising their oil resources and limiting exports to safeguard against their own future energy needs. This may lead to future conflict between the have and have-not nations as oil shortages begin to occur.

What can we do to future-proof ourselves against Peak Oil?

Use less oil! Recycle your plastics. Don't use petroleum-based products when alternatives are available. Car-pool, walk, or bike when you can. Buy a smaller, more energy efficient car. Campaign for dedicated cycle-ways and support public transport initiatives. Use alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power, and lobby your MP to make sure that these steps are national priorities for the Government.