Post-peak living: Egypt

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….


About The Cheery Pessimist

Waiting for some sign that we will change our ways before it all comes tumbling down...still, you've got to laugh
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5 Responses to Post-peak living: Egypt

  1. Teen says:

    The chaos reigning in Libya and unrest throughout the middle east raises all sorts of questions and has triggered a fresh spike in the price of oil. Time to focus on wood of to keep the home fires burning and learn how to grow good, local food?

    • mandy meikle says:

      I think growing any food would be a good idea – good or a bit shit! Feeling less cheery by the minute but probably because wood’s damp, house chilly, there’s a pile of dishes & for some crazy reason known not even to me, I’m on Twitter! Focus, Meikle, focus!!!!

  2. Margaret says:

    Oh lordy, where do I start! I’ve got so much swilling around my head as to what is going on in the Arab World and what brought it about. And as usual I don’t have the data (access to a newspaper isn’t exactly peer reviewed…..).

    Here’s my question prompted by your blog:
    If we were a solar-powered, wind-powered species, would the revolutions be happening?

    From my experience, it wasn’t two or three cars of a family type-of society, so I’d guess their carbon foot print is significantly lower than ours.

    Personally, I don’t think this is anything to do with peak oil. It’s about a government serving an elite rich beyond our wildest dreams, typically military-owned corporations running the economy an economy infested by corruption and in order to do so, crushing the majority of the population physically. Homelessness, hunger, grinding poverty (don’t think there is a welfare state) police abuse, torture in the face of immense wealth, lack of democracy.

    Today, microbus driver was shot in the chest three times by a police officer. For passing the police officer (so maybe equivalent of over-taking on the inside?). The people of Egypt are no longer afraid. The flat-bed truck belonging to the police officer was set on fire by an outraged crowd. That’s an angry response, but in a country where people know there is no justice for ordinary people, I’d expect this sooner or later.

    “Earlier today in maadi: police shoots microbus driver. people burn car.”

    • mandy meikle says:

      Hi Margaret – You ask if we were a solar-powered species would the revolutions be happening. Well, that would depend on whether we were a free & fair solar-powered species or one ruled by dictatorships, such as we are now. I posted in haste & did not mean to imply that what’s going on in Egypt is solely due to peak oil. I know you know way more about Egypt than I do. My point was that such scenes can only increase as more and more people are denied access to resources. Social networking is enabling us all to find out what is actually going on. I wonder how long it will be before the Internet is censored? Can’t have these uppity minions upsetting the status quo!

      We in the so-called developed nations are also ruled by dictators – it’s just that their control over us is more subtle (it’s called advertising!). People are supposed to work, earn money and spend – that’s what keeps the economy going with the rich getting richer (well, some of them) and the poor getting poorer (although they may be duped into thinking they are getting less poor).

      It’s inequality that fuels unrest and inequality is set to rise because the system runs on cheap energy. Peak oil is all about the end of cheap energy and as far as I’m aware, no one knows how neoliberal economics will work without cheap energy. Your guess as to how things will pan out is as good as mine. But whatever happens, it ain’t going to be pleasant!

  3. Margaret says:

    I know you didn’t imply it was solely! I was kinda thinking on a keyboard!

    Lot’s of ‘censorship events’ have been spotted in the past month or so. You are right, it’s a matter of time until we get it too, and of course it won’t be the innocent, boyish Cameron, it will be the company and the government has no influence blah, blah, blah, right? It’s mostly blocking of specific facebook pages sort of thing, returning no results for searches for ‘proxy’ etc. We’ll see how long until it takes to happen here…

    A lot of people are freaked. They should realise herpding cats doesn’t work. We’ll all go underground, above ground or whatever just because that’s what humans do, like getting a punk record straight to No1 in the charts. As soon as we are told it is bad so it is banned, we all go out buy it to judge for ourselves and poke a finger at the ‘master’.

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