Monday, 16 January 2012

Immediate Threat - Oil Shockwave Scenario - overview

The following post (and series of posts) was originally drafted by myself on Aussies Living Simply, however it is spread out over 68 pages and is difficult to read with all the other intervening posts.  Although I recommend reading the entire lot if you are interested in more than my own narrow point of view.
Nobody can deny, regardless of how much of an optimist they are, just how close oil supply and demand are to each other, and how if we haven't already reached peak oil, then it's going to happen very soon.
Major oil fields all around the globe are encountering steep decline rates, and new fields are a lot smaller, will reach their own peak earlier, and decline even faster.
This leaves the world in the nasty situation that if there is some problem regarding oil supply, there really isn't any spare capacity to pump extra oil into the market to take up the slack. There is debate that Saudi Arabia is able to pump more than what they currently are, between 2-4 mbpd, and this is being used to prevent the threat of Iran using their oil as blackmail, turning off their supply and sending the world into an immediate oil crisis at the drop of a hat.
But the Middle East is an amazingly complex political and geological region. The risk, now that supply is peaking and demand is only being constrained by a weakening economy (which ironically is being caused by oil peaking), is that anything that even slightly interrupts oil supply for a short to medium term within the middle east could cause catastrophic economic and social problems.
There are no, and I emphasise this, absolutely no technofixes that can come online fast enough to help us in a sudden crisis.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to determine how vulnerable you are to a sudden oil crisis.
You must take into account that the majority of our diesel fuel (or the oil to refine it) comes from other countries. Australia may be self sufficient for LPG, natural gas, coal, and ultra-light sweet crude, however we do not have the ability to supply ourselves with enough diesel fuel to sustain agriculture and the economy. We have the technology to convert coal into synthetic diesel, however we do not have the conversion plants and refineries built to do it.
So look at your life, your lifestyle, your house and location, your job, and the food you eat, and perform a hypothetical assessment of your vulnerability to an oil crisis. Factors you should include are the distinct possibility of imposed fuel restrictions by the government, social unrest, looting supermarkets, disruption of the health system and reliable supplies of medicines, home invasions, maybe even bread lines.
Personal security, food security, financial/job security and health could be scored separately on a scale from 1 to 10 to help you quantify the issues. 
Remember it is not necessarily the responsibility of the Government or Police to protect us. What percentage of crime do the police actually prevent? The majority of the time they are making arrests AFTER the crime has been committed. That doesn't help the person who has already been stabbed, murdered or raped. It is our responsibility to protect ourselves.

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