Media Talk: Peak Oil

Talk Tuesday 3rd February, 2009

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With latest reports predicting that we’ll reach Peak Oil in the next 3-5 years and with oil prices more volatile than ever, will the oil crisis soon take over from the financial crisis as the world’s most pressing concern?

And while the jury is still out on whether or not we really are heading for Peak Oil, it seems that the end of the oil wells could indeed be in sight if the latest industry reports are to be believed. Although the world economic crisis has slowed down global oil consumption and sent prices plummeting to an all-time low, 2008 saw oil prices reach their highest-ever at almost $200 a barrel.

Even with the recent discoveries of oil fields off Brazil and Cuba, it seems that the search for alternative energy is now more pressing than ever. But what is Britain doing to address this and are we investing enough time and resources in looking for viable alternatives?

And if oil prices do shoot up again, and gas-rich Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran become increasingly powerful, what are the implications for the new world order?

Jeremy Leggett is founder and Chairman of Solarcentury, the UK’s largest solar solutions company, and SolarAid, a charity set up with Solarcentury profits. He is author of The Carbon War and Half Gone.

Dr Manouchehr Takin is a Senior Petroleum Upstream Analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies. His activities at the Centre include special studies on the oil and gas scene in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and the North Sea and oil and gas services industry in the Middle East. Before joining the Centre in 1990, Dr Takin spent nine years in Vienna as Senior Research Officer at the OPEC Secretariat analysing global energy and oil markets. Prior to OPEC, he acquired sixteen years of experience in the oil industry and has worked as geologist, geophysicist and reservoir engineer for companies including Amoco International, The Iranian Oil Consortium,  and the Geological Survey of Iran.

Simon Taylor is Director of Global Witness, a London-based NGO. Simon started Global Witness’ oil transparency campaign in 1999, co-launching the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign in 2002, together with George Soros and a number of other NGO’s.  The PWYP launch directly precipitated the UK Government’s own launch of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) later that year. Simon is now focused on the nexus of climate and energy security.

Ed Crooks is the energy editor of the Financial Times. He has worked for the FT for nine years, previously as economics editor and UK news editor. Before that he worked for BBC radio and television news as an economics correspondent. He is a former member of the government’s Sustainable Development Commission.