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Bizarre: Prime Ministerial candidate in Australia thinks there is more oil than previously thought

In the dying days of an election campaign in which peak oil was totally ignored, Prime Ministerial candidate Tony Abbott from the Liberal Party produced himself as a peak oil sceptic during a Town Hall style public forum in Brisbane, Queensland. He thinks that technology and the “right” oil price will always ensure that more oil is found, in the next 20-50 years. In other words: there is more oil than previously thought. What’s worse, a potential future Prime Minister doesn’t see the concept of peak oil as a useful tool for decision making.

Voters, who are largely illiterate on peak oil due to the failure of consecutive governments to educate the public about this important issue, are unlikely to consider this gross incompetence when going to the polls on Saturday. After all, the current Rudd/Gillard government is hardly any better.

Here is the question asked during the Forum:

Hello Mr Abbott and I’m a Commonwealth public servant, hopefully not one to be affected by the loss of 12,000 jobs you just mentioned, but back to my question. I know you’re not a believer human induced climate change, but could I test you on peak oil? Do you acknowledge that the world is facing a future of oil depletion and if so, how would you begin to prepare Australia for the major threat this poses to the way we live our lives?


Ok, well, you know, the interesting thing about oil reserves is that they’re always being expanded. I mean, at any one time, people think we have say 20 or 30 years of oil reserves. 20 or 30 years later, people still think we have 20, 30, 40 or 50 years of oil reserves, as the case may be and the reason for that is because as the technology changes, more reserves become accessible, and as the price changes, reserves that weren’t really accessible become more accessible.


So, look, I know about the concept of peak oil. I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest expert in it, but I’m sceptical as to its value as a tool for policy makers because at the right price, we’ve got a lot more reserves than we currently think. With better technology, we’ve got a lot more reserves than we currently think.


So, are you saying, Tony Abbott, that oil is a limitless resource?


I’m not saying that it’s limitless. But it’s not nearly as finite as we would think if we had looked at the kind of studies that were done a generation ago or even now.

Let’s go through this answer:

(1) “So, look, I know about the concept of peak oil”

Congratulations! What a progress in only 8 months!

New Liberal leader did not know what peak oil is

(2) “….the interesting thing about oil reserves is that they’re always being expanded”

Too interesting for comfort, in fact. Expanded on paper,  perhaps. For example, have OPEC reserves been audited by a 3rd party? Where are those 300 Gb of claimed proved reserves which ex-Saudi Aramco chief Sadad-al-Husseini reclassified as “resources” in an oil and money conference of Energy Intelligence in October 2007 in London?


Those resources – if there – are not cheap and, what’s even more important, slow to produce. They could be so expensive the economy dies before we see one drop of those resources. Even the International Energy Agency, not an organisation known for pessimistic outlooks, knows about those OPEC paper barrels, since 1998, in fact:


The above graph shows how OPEC countries artificially increased reserves – without matching discoveries – in the so-called quota war of the 1980s.

That was revealed under Howard’s watch.  He failed his historic duty of care to prepare Australia for peak oil. No wonder his scholars haven’t learned a thing since then. This problem will soon explode and lead to a deep confidence crisis in oil reserves, not only in OPEC. So what’s the consequence of all this?  That, for example, Iran’s oil exports will shrink in the next 5 years:


Calculations that Iran would need an oil price of $130 to balance their budget are here:

Let’s have a look what annual oil flows (that’s what really matters) these “growing” reserves actually produce:


What we can see is that a lot of  (growing) reserves produce oil flows which are peaking. And look at the impact of modern technology in those tar sands in Canada. That’s not dirt on your monitor, that’s the annual oil flow from there. More details are here:

(3) Abbott: “….but I’m sceptical as to its [peak oil] value as a tool for policy makers”

Whow! With Tony as PM we’ll never ever prepare for peak oil (which started in 2005) and declining oil production which means we have to wait for physical oil shortages to teach him a lesson what peak oil is all about. Unfortunately, we are all sitting in the same boat, otherwise I would have a lot of schadenfreude.

Not that the Rudd/Gillard government would be better by even a single barrel of oil:

Critique ACIL Tasman liquid fuel vulnerability

On 22/5/2008 (after the Q&A show I handed over to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a paper on public transport

Rail crash program for Sydney’s North West: Surface Metro Solutions

containing the above Husseini graph. Only 2 weeks later:

Rudd calls on G8 to pressure OPEC to raise supply

The latest proof of the peak oil denial mode of the Gillard government came on 11/8/2010,  just in time for the election:

Work starts on Hunter Expressway

“The start of major construction work on the new Hunter Expressway is the culmination of the community’s twenty year campaign for better road infrastructure to support the Hunter’s continued growth, not just for the next three years but for the next three decades.”

Growth of the coal dependent Hunter valley in the next 3 decades?

NASA climatologist James Hansen at Sydney Uni: “Australia doesn’t agree now that they got to stop their coal, but they are going to agree. I can guarantee you that within a decade or so because the climate change will become so strongly apparent that’s going to become imperative”

That was my assessment about the embellished traffic projections:

Hunter Expressway: yet another peak oil ignorant project

What a choice between the 2 main parties!

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