Plant Trees SF Events 2005 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021


ę ASPO USA: Denver World Oil Conference
Straight Talking Ľ
Bad News For UK Energy
On the 27th October the DTI published the following information, thanks to Nick Rouse for bringing it to my attention:

  For the three months June 2005 to August 2005 compared to the same period a year earlier:
  - production of petroleum fell by 16.2%;
  - production of natural gas fell by 17.0%;
  - production of coal and other solid fuels fell by 24.9%;
  - electricity produced from nuclear sources rose by 11.8%;
  - electricity produced from wind and natural flow hydro fell by 4.4%.
  Energy Trends Table 1.1

What I find amazing is why this wasnít news. Why wasnít this the talking point of the day with John Humphrys quizzing Malcolm Wicks in the morning, John Snow presenting some scary graphs at 7pm and Jeremy Paxman giving over Newsnight to the emerging crisis, it certainly deserves the coverage.

The 17% fall in natural gas is the most concerning in my opinion since there isnít the import or storage capacity to make up such a huge difference even if the gas was available on the market. We can probably discount the increase in nuclear as an anomaly since we know the fleet is being decommissioned over the next decade or so, Iíll put it down to there being one or more reactors down for maintenance in 2004 that are operating again now.

I quoted this graph a few weeks ago from the DTI Energy Trends publication, it can now be updated with the latest data.

That doesnít look pretty does it? I had to extend the y-axis to fit August on the graph! The extraction rate for August 2005 was 54.7TWh compared to 73.3TWh, a decrease of 25% year on year.

Most of the attention (well what little attention is on resource depletion at all!) seems to be on oil. Oil depletion and the term peak oil is becoming known, a few dozen books have been written, peak oil is mentioned in the newspapers every week or so but gas hardly gets a mention.

Even amongst the peak oil advocates gas is usually dismissed by saying the global gas peak is a decade or more after the global oil peak. This misses the point though. I think gas depletion will cause acute and more immediate problems in certain parts of the world than global peak oil and long before the global peak gas extraction rate. Yes, by certain parts of the world I mean the UK. America are also likely to have difficulties with gas this winter with the hurricane damage only compounding what was already looking like a very tight situation. 

The difference is that oil can be easily transported, in 1970/71 when American oil production peaked it wasnít (too much) of a problem since the rate of extraction decline was low and more oil could be imported from overseas. A local gas peak is different. Post peak decline rates are likely to be faster than oil and it is incredibly difficult to import from overseas. This is the problem the UK now faces and I donít see how we can overcome it. I doubt we will be able to replace beach gas lost through depletion and even if we do find a willing vendor theyíll be able to name their price whilst offering us little or no security of supply. 

With oil, gas, coal and soon nuclear energy production crashing, the UK must face reality, we must either reduce demand in a controlled fashion in line with reduced energy production, import energy at immense cost (if even available) or face serious disruption. 

This post was written by Chris Vernon

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2005 at 11:10 pm and is filed under Hydrocarbon Depletion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.