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Monday, June 27, 2005

Saudi oil going fast

Michael Klare writes about Matthew Simmons' new book: Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. According to Klare, Simmons meticulously looks at the future of Saudi oil production and finds it coming up massively short of the predictions that have been made about it for years. Klare concludes:
it would be the height of folly to assume that the Saudis are capable of doubling their petroleum output in the years ahead, as projected by the Department of Energy. Indeed, it will be a minor miracle if they raise their output by a million or two barrels per day and sustain that level for more than a year or so. Eventually, in the not-too-distant future, Saudi production will begin a sharp decline from which there is no escape. And when that happens, the world will face an energy crisis of unprecedented scale.

The moment that Saudi production goes into permanent decline, the Petroleum Age as we know it will draw to a close. Oil will still be available on international markets, but not in the abundance to which we have become accustomed and not at a price that many of us will be able to afford. Transportation, and everything it effects -- which is to say, virtually the entire world economy -- will be much, much more costly. The cost of food will also rise, as modern agriculture relies to an extraordinary extent on petroleum products for tilling, harvesting, pest protection, processing, and delivery. Many other products made with petroleum -- paints, plastics, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and so forth -- will also prove far more costly. Under these circumstances, a global economic contraction -- with all the individual pain and hardship that would surely produce -- appears nearly inevitable.
That would be the start of Kunstler's Long Emergency, I believe.