Oil prices surge overnight
Reporter: Andrew Geoghegan
TONY EASTLEY: World oil prices surged overnight prompted by forecasts that the northern hemisphere may be in for a harsh winter that would stretch oil supplies.
But this may just be a sign of things to come, with some oil analysts predicting that the global supply of oil may be about to peak as early as next year.
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas is an international organisation of scientists, which is working to determine the timing and effect of the oil peak and subsequent decline in production.
The Association has just been launched in Australia by its international President, Swedish physicist Kjell Aleklett.
Professor Aleklett has been speaking to our reporter Andrew Geoghegan.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Professor Aleklett, you're talking about a permanent shortfall in global oil supply. Just explain to us the concept of peak oil.
KJELL ALEKLETT: That's the time when the production cannot keep up with what demand is. That means that you will get a lower production some year compared to the year before, even if you like to buy more. And that of course means that it will be harder and harder to get the oil, and the price probably will go up.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: So when do you think this is likely to happen?
KJELL ALEKLETT: It will happen some time between now and 2020. And it will probably hit around 2010.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: We've already seen the effect high supply and short demand have on oil prices. What effect will this have?
KJELL ALEKLETT: It depends on how you prepare for this. If you prepare for this the effect might not be so hard, and that's one reason why we in ASPOG like to get people aware about this future.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: So what is your organisation set up to do?
KJELL ALEKLETT: First of all, we like to inform people as much as possible about this future and that it's coming, because when you talk about energy, it's long-term planning. And I can mention, for instance, that the Government in Sweden now has decided to put up a committee that will try to make Sweden less dependent on oil in the year 2020.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Taking a look at Australia, for instance, what effect is this having, particularly when we have such a great dependence on oil?
KJELL ALEKLETT: It is harder, probably, for you to fix this, and if you don't start now, it will be even harder in the future to do it.
ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: So is this simply a matter of finding alternative energy sources?
KJELL ALEKLETT: That's one big thing, the other thing is that you have to find an alternative way to live sometimes also, and try to be more careful when you use fossil fuel and coal and oil in the future.
TONY EASTLEY: Professor Kjell Aleklett speaking there, with Andrew Geoghegan.