Friday, January 05, 2007

The oil age may be over for the world's poor

Here in America, nothing really serious has happened yet, and the downward price fluctuations have left a lot of people thinking there really was nothing to worry about. But here's a taste of our future - in the third world the consequences of rising demand and flat production are starting to hit. You can see the whole analysis here,, but to my mind, the most essential element is this:

"With flat production and steady or increasing consumption in those countries that publish detailed reports, something had to give or else we would be seeing considerably higher oil prices. The give came in the underdeveloped world where $20 or $30 oil was affordable for generating electricity, running pumps, and for cooking, but $60 or $70 per barrel oil was not. Again, the returns are not in yet, but anecdotal evidence is accumulating that many parts of Africa, Central America, and Asia are starting to shut down. For these peoples, the oil age, such as it was, is already over."

Remember, peak oil isn't about when the oil runs out - there will be oil in the ground for a long, long time - probably forever. It is about the date at which the rising cost of oil, and the competition of demand begin to impact your life. Some of us will be able to go on for a long time, others, particularly those in industries like trucking, the airline industry and others are already feeling a little pinch. And if you are one of the world's poor, the pinch has become something more.