Peak Oil News: Farewell to the 'oil era' ?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Farewell to the 'oil era' ?

People's Daily Online

The Swedish government has recently announced its resolution to end its dependence on oil by 2020 through the development of renewable energies. This is a brave and great goal. While other countries think it's impossible, the Swedish have determined to say goodbye to oil.

Meanwhile, in his State of the Union Address, US President George W. Bush also said that the US must break its addiction to oil and replace over 75 % of its oil imports from the Middle East by 2025 through technology.

Currently, 60% of global energy supply comes from oil and natural gas. Oil has become a strategic resource. With the sustained growth of world economy, oil supply faces new test. Geo-political situation in oil production regions has become increasingly complicated. Some analysts think the world has entered an ' insecure era in energy'. It's estimated that 64 out of 100 oil production countries have passed their peak production period while the world oil supply will reach its peak between 2010 and 2020, and then begin to decline.

Facing the high oil price and potential oil supply crisis, various governments have treated energy as their strategic issue influencing their national security. There are two choices now: one is to seek more oil supply sources and channels and improve the efficiency of oil utilization; the other is to develop renewable energy such as solar, water and wind energies. On the second choice, some countries have become the vanguards. Taking Sweden as an example, one third of its energy currently comes from renewable energies.

Unfortunately, as the largest fossil fuel consumer and importer, the United States still clings to traditional ideas and for a long time have in some ways controlled the important oil production regions and oil supply channels. Many observers have pointed out that oil has been a key factor in the Iraq war and on the Iranian nuke issue, the US strategic thinking still focuses on oil. It's expected that the oil reserve in Iran is likely the same as that in Saudi Arabia which ranks the first in the world. The US militarized policy on energy has caused a lot of concerns in the world. Inside America, the calls of 'No blood for oil' have been heard. However, habitual dependence on the powerful military force still plays a significant role.

To some oil producers, oil has become a 'curse' rather than a 'blessing'. Except attracting more foreign intervention, there is also a curious phenomenon that economists call the resource curse - so named because, on average, countries with large endowments of natural resources perform worse than countries that are less well endowed. This was due to the social unrests and wars caused by the competition in grabbing resources. Meanwhile, the dependence on resources also caused the shrinking of other industries and the vulnerability of their economy. No wonder some African oil producers sighed that 'oil has made us lazy and corrupted.'

No doubt, on the way to farewell to oil, mankind still has a long way to go. However, the end of 'oil era' may not be unreachable. Every country must seriously face the challenge of energy and develop renewable energies through technical innovation. Then perhaps the end of 'oil era' doesn't necessarily mean the depletion of oil or people's forced farewell to oil, but that oil will stop to be robbed as a strategic resource, or to be abused as a resource that causes the decadence of human society.


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