Well, here we are in February and I’ve not posted for months. I’m not sure what’s blocking my ability to write but am hoping it’s a mix of general winter apathy, when I spend more time worrying about how damp our wood pile is rather than the price of oil, and having two part time jobs (neither of which are particularly satisfying!)
The civil unrest in the middle east and north Africa has filled the media recently and one can’t help but wonder where oil might feature. Egypt’s oil production was never huge and peaked in 1996 at 922,000 barrels/day. Meanwhile, Egypt’s oil use has been rising rapidly, at the same time as the amount extracted each year is declining – always a recipe for disaster. Starting about 2010 or 2011, Egypt will change from an oil exporting nation to an oil importing nation, if there are imports available on the world market. Egypt isn’t the only country with declining oil production – world oil production has been more or less flat since 2005 (see fig. 6 here), and the countries that produce the oil are using more and more of it themselves. One of the big problems in this post-peak world is that there is less oil available for export, even as countries like Egypt need more.
But it’s not just Egypt’s oil which matters. Nearly 3 million barrels of oil pass daily through the Suez Canal, making it one of the world’s most important oil routes. I’m sure theories abound as to what vested interests are at work here but there’s little doubt that Egypt’s oil use has been rising rapidly while the amount extracted each year is declining. Such a scenario will cause civil unrest, whether people see this link or not.
The scary thing about living at the peak is the social and economic impacts. Most people care about feeding their families and paying their bills, not where their energy comes from. It would be a good exercise to look at civil unrest around the world and see how it links to the energy crisis – whether direct energy prices or associated costs, such as food. I shall try to do this but you know how crap I am at putting fingers to keyboard so do feel free to reply with your thoughts….