Energy crunch could last for years
By Nicholas K. Geranios
It may already be too late for the United States to avoid massive economic disruption because of a decline in worldwide oil production, an industry expert said Wednesday.
Roger Bezdek, a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, told the Global Oil Depletion conference that it will take more than a decade to find alternative sources of energy if oil production reaches a peak, which may be imminent.
"No one knows when oil will peak," Bezdek said. "But if we wait until the peak, we will be in deep economic troubles for decades."
The conference was presented by the Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University at Pullman, and painted a gloomy picture of a future in which there is increased competition for diminishing resources.
Bezdek said it will take the nation 10 to 15 years to deal with a decline in oil supply by finding alternative means to move people and goods. That time is needed to find substitute fuels and get higher fuel efficiency.
"It may be too late to avoid economic dislocations," he said.
Matthew Simmons, an investment banker who recently wrote "Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy," said the United States has been in denial about energy issues for decades. The nation has built its economy and lifestyle around an endless supply of cheap oil, and now finds itself with stiff competition for oil from India and China, he said.
The recent hurricanes on the Gulf Coast have knocked a big hole in oil and natural-gas supplies.