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Oil Gusher Will Turn Into A Trickle - Fitzsimons

24 November, 2003

Oil gusher will turn into a trickle, warns Fitzsimons

Government planners are blithely ignoring the fact that the world's oil demand will very soon exceed supply, Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons warned today.

Ms Fitzsimons told an energy workshop in the Growing our Future forum in Masterton today that all the economic planning work being carried out by the Government is falsely premised on oil supplies being available in the future at approximately the same quantity and cost as at present.

"Most international oil industry analysts expect oil production to peak some time in the next 15 years," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Yet the Ministry for Economic Development is still predicting that the price per barrel in 2020 will be less than it is now.

"This head-in-the-sand approach to energy planning is entirely consistent with official New Zealand Government attitudes to the depletion of Maui gas. Even though the Maui field was always expected to run out by 2008 there has never been any strategy to replace it.

"We won't know the date that oil production peaked and started to decline until we have passed it, but this is the date prices will begin a long-term, irreversible rise.

"It may be happening already. Current crude oil prices quoted in the Financial Times for 21 November range from US$28.77 to US$32.89 a barrel. All four prices quoted are already higher than the 'projections' for 2020 published just last month by the MED.

"The sad fact is that the world currently burns four barrels of oil for every new barrel we discover.

Ms Fitzsimons called on Government analysts and planners to acknowledge that there is just not enough oil left at an affordable price to fuel New Zealand's future.

"There are alternatives," said Ms Fitzsimons. "We should promote fuel efficiency for vehicles, fund the development of renewable bio-fuels, shift freight off the road and onto energy efficient rail where possible, plan more efficient cities with shorter commuting distances and stop planning to use oil as a backstop for future electricity generation."


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