When Will Oil’s Day End?

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Geopolitics
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I’m not against oil per se, or any other energy source for that matter. However, developments in recent years lead me to question how long Western economies will remain dependent on oil, particularly gasoline to propel automobiles. Gasoline consumption in the US appears to have peaked a few years ago, and continues on its downward trend. Substitution of lower consuming cars is just getting underway: hybrids, plug-in electric vehicles, continuing increases in efficiency of gasoline engines, more diesel engines, etc.

As electricity becomes progressively more important in vehicle propulsion, we can expect demand for electricity to continue rising. That means more centralized electricity production. These plants will continue to be fuelled by (hopefully cleaner) coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and possibly wind and solar sources (though not in any great quantity for the latter).

On the other hand, with the massive growth in Asia, they will take up the slack in oil demand and eventually surpass Western based consumption. Countries such as China and India will continue investing massively in oil production and development of reserves in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Russia will probably also supply their needs. So, we will have a block of economic juggernauts getting their oil from underdeveloped countries with authoritarian regimes. Neither side cares much about human rights, political freedom, or the environment.

© 2011 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted for non-commercial purposes with full and proper attribution.

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