Peak oil’s entry into mainstream discourse: now complete

The Independent had an interview with International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol a week ago, in which Birol was unequivocal about peak oil. He said:

The UK Government, along with many other governments, has believed that peak oil will not occur until well into the 21st Century, at least not until after 2030. The International Energy Agency believes peak oil will come perhaps by 2020. But it also believes that we are heading for an even earlier “oil crunch” because demand after 2010 is likely to exceed dwindling supplies.

More on the prospect of a near term oil price crunch here, here and here. In other news, Will Whitehorn and Jeremy Leggett had an op-ed on peak oil in the FT yesterday, querying why the UK government’s recent Wicks review of energy security made next to mention of peak oil.  This passage was a beautifully crafted broadside:

The Wicks review mentions peak oil only once. The relevant passage concludes: “Few authors advocating an imminent peak take account of factors such as the role of prices in stimulating exploration, investment, technological development and changes in consumer behaviour.”

If we imagine a review of financial security in 2006, the equivalent of the cursory dismissal of peak oil in the Wicks review might have read as follows: “Few authors advocating the toxicity of derivatives take into account factors such as the investment banking industry’s sophisticated treatment of risk, and the extent of the due diligence involved in awarding triple-A investment grading.”