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Organic Consumers Association

Era of Cheap, Easy Oil is Over, Warns Study

The exact date of "peak oil" - when the amount of oil being pumped out of the ground every day reaches its highest point before beginning an inexorable decline - has been hotly debated for decades. Environmentalists have tended to warn oil could run out at any moment, while oil companies insist there are plently more oil fields yet to be discovered.

The most recent estimation from the International Energy Agency, that advises Governments around the world, said conventional oil would not peak until after 2030.

However an authoriative new study from the Government-funded UK Energy Research Council called this prediction "at best optimistic and at worst implausible". The peer-reviewed research looked at 500 studies from around the world and took into account the difficulty of accessing new oil fields as well as growing demand. It predicted oil will begin running out before 2030 and there is a "significant risk" peak oil will be reached before 2020.

"In our view, forecasts which delay a peak in conventional oil production until after 2030 are at best optimistic and at worst implausible. And given the world's overwhelming dependence on oil and the time required to develop alternatives, 2030 isn't far away," said the report's lead author Steve Sorrell. "The concern is that rising oil prices will encourage the rapid development of carbon-intensive alternatives which will make it difficult or impossible to prevent dangerous climate change."   



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