Oil producers will be 'begging to sell their oil in 10 years' says high flying visiting oil expert

Oil producers will be 'begging to sell their oil in 10 years' says high flying visiting oil expert

By Gareth Vaughan

Oil producers will be "begging" people to buy their oil in 10 years time as new technologies and fuels are developed, says a prominent oil focused economist.

Speaking in Wellington at Greenstone Energy co-owner Infratil's annual investor day, Philip Verleger, Professor of Strategy and International Management at the University of Calgary, said while in Wellington he had been asked by Treasury officials where the price of oil would be in 10 years time.

"I said I thought oil producers would be begging to sell their oil," said Verleger who has previously held positions at the US President's Council of Economic Advisers, the US Treasury, the Institute for International Economics, Yale University, the University of California, and the National Petroleum Council.

"The reason I think this is the case is that technology is so good," Verleger added.

"My expectation is that oil prices, energy prices, will probably be some place in today's dollar (terms) whether it's US or NZ dollars, below $100."

Verleger acknowledged his view wasn't the mainstream view. His New Zealand visit coincides with a worsening crisis in oil producing nation Libya, which has helped push US oil prices to their highest levels since September 2008 at US$106.95 a barrel and the European benchmark Brent Crude to US$118.50. In New Zealand petrol prices have topped NZ$2.15 for a litre of 91-octane.

Verleger said the energy policy pursued by the United States, and the world in general over the last 40 years, had been "disastrous." Better coordination in economic, environmental and oil policies would also be needed to reduce prices. Nonetheless a big reason he held his "begging" view was technological developments.

"For one thing take the Chevy Volt. It's subsidised and everything else, but this is a car that has a gasoline engine that runs a generator and can go substantial distances and doesn't risk running out," said Verleger.

"Essentially it's going to be getting 200 miles to the gallon because of the way it's running on electricity. Okay, it's running on coal fired electricity but that may become natural gas fired electricity."

Porsche, meanwhile, had come out with a car that gets 86 miles to the gallon.

"Technology is moving so quickly. What were facts about the future last year aren't facts about the future next year."

'Peak oil? So what?'

Asked for his views on peak oil, Verleger said: "Yeah, production's going to peak sometime. So what?"

"There's going to be substitutions. That is what innovation is about."

People worried about peak oil were frozen in a history that didn't exist.

"The best thing I can think of is an economist named (Stanley) Jevons who 200 years ago (in 1865) warned England it had a terrible future because it would run out of coal and you had to have coal to grow," said Verleger.

"He was wrong. They found more coal and they found other ways of moving ahead."

'Forty years of folly'

The energy policy pursued in the US, and most of the world, for the past 40 years has been a disaster, Verleger argued. He noted President Richard Nixon had spoken of the challenge of facing higher energy prices 40 years ago and said the focus should go on nuclear power, shale oil and developing offshore oil.

"Natural gas was taken off the table, we were going to run out by 2010," said Verleger. "Now the US has more natural gas reserves than Saudi Arabia has oil. The turnaround is just fantastic."

Furthermore, he predicted China would aggressively pursue the development of shale gas as a source of cheap electricity where they can invest money in their own country and continue export led economic growth.

"They're looking at this as the game changer it is."

Although environmental issues, notably water pollution, might slow down the development of shale gas in the US, this wouldn't be the case in China.

"The Chinese will look at the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and say 'okay, there's a little radium getting in the water. Okay we'll glow a bit in the dark. So what? We're going to go that way'," said Verleger.

Diesel push to blame

Meanwhile, one of the main reasons the world was in a mess over energy now was because many governments had pushed dieselisation. Economic policies and energy conservation policies had been to switch to diesel.

"So the Europeans offer diesel fuel retail prices at about 75% the price of gasoline," said Verleger.

Some 85% of new vehicles in Europe are now diesel powered when European oil refineries have limited ability to make diesel. Essentially this left economic and energy policies pushing demand for a product that supply can't keep pace with.

"So prices go up."

This was why the strife in Libya, even though it only produces about 1.5 million barrels of crude oil per day or 2% of global production, had caused such a price spike. The Libyan oil, used to make diesel in Europe, is sweet and has little sulphur in it. In contrast Saudi Arabian crude has a significant amount of sulphur.

"European refineries take that Libyan crude and make diesel and the environmental authorities have been pushing to remove sulphur from diesel fuel," said Verleger. "They use 10 parts per million. That's hard to make diesel fuel with 10 parts per million, particularly if you start with Arab heavy crude."

He estimated that using Nigerian or Libyan crude oil, making a metric tonne of diesel requires about two barrels with about three kilogrammes of sulphur removed.

"I have to take five barrels of Arab heavy crude to get the same amount of diesel. It's like taking a different cut of meat. And when I'm done with it, how much sulphur do I have to take out? 180 kilos."

The same problem had struck when oil prices went through the roof in 2008 with an increase in diesel demand, a "small scale civil war" cutting production in Nigeria, and the US government taking sweet crude off the market from August 2007 and putting it in its strategic petroleum reserve just when it was really needed.

After pursuing a "disastrous" energy policy for the past 40 years, the world needed much greater coordination between countries and on economic policies, environmental policies and oil policies.

"We got ourselves into this mess, where diesel fuel threatens to drive the international economy back into recession, because there was no coordination in economic policy, no coordination in environmental and oil policy. You can pursue, and should pursue the best possible strategies to reduce emissions in the environment. You should also pursue conservation strategy and you want to make this all work in a period where you get economic growth," said Verleger.

"We haven't done it. Our energy policy in the United States and in the world, for the last 40 years has been a disaster. Essentially what we have is an economic policy and an energy policy pushing demand for a product that we can't make enough of. So prices go up."

What if Steve Jobs was in charge of energy?

He asked the audience to imagine that in 1971 a brilliant group of people like the executives running Apple had taken over oil and energy policies.

"Think of what the world oil market would look like today. You would have your ePad with systems on it with transportation applications. Where the Apple oil industry worked with the transportation industry, worked with the environmental people to produce cleaner fuel and make sure the system worked in a way where prices remained relatively stable and customer demands were met."

The world was now in a situation where it couldn't afford battles back and forth between the oil industry, environmentalists and economic policy makers.

"We need to have a more cooperative view, where you're managing the price risk using strategic stocks, you're managing the demand saying 'we can't make all this diesel fuel and if we do need it we have to go to natural gas'," Verleger said.

"What we're seeing is the clash, again, of environmental regulations, fuel demand decisions and the incapability of the crude supplies which are going to lead us, unfortunately, probably to several years of sub-par economic growth."

* This article was first published in our email for paid subscribers this morning.  See here for more details and to subscribe.


We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Where in this article are the political aspects/ consequences of peak oil taken into consideration ? Just another bla, bla talk without any value !

You may not like what the article says Kunst but I can't see that you can argue that it doesn't say anything about the political aspects/consequences of peak oil.  The Guru explains in some detail what Governments have done, why that wasn't a good idea and what they should be doing to enable human ingenuity to work, and the technologies to come through, so that peak oil doesn't lead to economic meltdown 

You may not like what the article says Kunst but I can't see that you can argue that it doesn't say anything about the political aspects/consequences of peak oil.  The Guru explains in some detail what Governments have done, why that wasn't a good idea and what they should be doing to enable human ingenuity to work, and the technologies to come through, so that peak oil doesn't lead to economic meltdown 

When do we wake up in this country ?

Considering the state of our country - how much time do we have for "Small Talks" ? Why on earth publish such a nonsense ? When are NZmedia challenging gurus/ politicians/ layers/ policymakers to make useful and binding statements ?


Bernard & team are you just gathering publicity or are honestly interested in our country to make progress. Reading current and previous chosen issues, I’m under the impression, we go nowhere. Property issues and “Small Talks” are more important then striving for sustainable production - decent jobs - looking after our NZworkforce - the future of the next generation.

Don't play the game - make the difference.

vic - I think Bernard doesn't take FlyBuys.

vic ----------------- [ personal abuse not acceptable ]

thank you

...at least he found us - so pdk give him two - hmmm !!

Of great concern

The presence of a Chinese frigate off the coast of Libya last week was deeply significant as the world’s major powers position themselves to protect future supplies of fuel, says Praveen Swami.


..and just by the way how much money/ oil is used in upcoming worldwide military operations or even conflicts, manoeuvring equipment from A to B to C ?

Very Interesting

goldenfox - do you take FlyBuys  :-) ?

Haha - no Flybuys in the UK my friend + I'm not a huge fan of giving away my shopping details in exchange for a free subscription to North & South

goldenfox I know I’m very stroppy today – 100%pure NZfrustration – it seems most people are still “As good as Gold” in beautiful New Zealand – but it bloody isn’t – we are in deep trouble.

 We need decisions – urgently and not only about Christchurch, it goes deeper - much deeper !!!

I guess this guy has never heard of a little thing called "political corruption" which forever looks to  empower oil companies regardless of any technology. The Chevy Volt by the way is thucking joke!

Hey Justice, what's the joke about the Volt?  I know someone who's all excited about getting one of the first off the production line!

I am with Justice on this one. Even the Prius is a joke. They are simply too expensive to make because the extra embodied energy is more than they save. By the time they come onto the second hand market they will be due of replacement of the expensive battery pack, batteries that are also not sustainable because of rare metals.

Its huge cost 2 or 3 times a std car and life expectancy 50% of a standard car.....economically I cant see its sense....

Not to mention US build quality....


Yeap, there you go Kate. This Volt is just a gimmick to justify the US taxpayer bailout money. I even believe Kate that one of our own universities has a EV better than this 

He's another 'glass-half-full' nutter.

The problem is that when you get to that point, you can only deplete.

That morph to 'someting else', takes energy you are already using to maintain full-noise BAU.

So it had to be done before peak.

Just another 'stone age didn't end for want of stones' type. The question is: Why was he chosen, and by whom, to tell that nonsense to treasury?

How about asking a physics prof, considering it's a physics question? Jim Mora asked the question of  a Prof on the panel this arvo - asked it twice, which I applaud - but the Prof (what's he a Prof of - geo-politics? History? Geography/) didn't know diddly-squat about oil.

This is physics and exponential math - clever technology ain't going to change the laws of thermodynamics.

Just another economist, really. Cloud-cukoo-land. His alternatives all peak too.


vic -  an intelligent rebuttal would be appreciated - that wasn't one.

Which says a lot..

Vic, contribute something of substance to the debate or go away please.

Verleger is correct , in that the West has wasted 40 years , happily gutsing itself on the world's oil stock , without seriously cracking into the research needed for  sustainable replacement energy sources . ........ Ex-President Jimmy Carter made mention of the need to see an economy beyond the dependence on oil , and got roundly shouted down as an idiot ......... much as Verleger is here , being labelled another " glass-half-full nutter " , because he  has an  optimistic  vision of the future ...........

.......... The day when we can tell the despots in the middle-east and elsewhere  to stick their ruddy oil where the sun don't shine , because we don't need it anymore ...... that day will be the sweetest one of all .

GBH- good to see the power's back on in the Phillipines.

You are right, to an extent - as in; Jimmy Carter was right. The time to do something about it was then, and some of us did done.

The world didn't, though. And now it's out of lead-time. As exponentially-growing things always tend to get.

....Consulting Ken Ring's almanac of Weather / Earthquakes / and Goat-Gizzard Squeezing ...... I was back in Christchurch just in time for the Quake II ....... ( as I was in Sept 2010 , for Quake I ) ........... Now I got to clean up Mumsy's place , and it's no picnic !

No doubt peak oil and finite resources are a reality however ruling out new technologies/ energy sources is neither scientific nor evidence based. If humans had based their imaginations on here and now paradigms only we would not have reached where we are now. I do not believe one can be so balck and white about future . 

Evidence? show us the new tech....

You dont have any science or engineering expertese do you? just blinf faith....I suggest you try a bible in that case.

New tech that can do it and scale.....we are not talking hydrogen, non-event....biofuels....a small % of the amount needed...what we can see going forward is a huge energy hole that technologies on the ground today have to start ramping up to meet....they cant because there arent any.

This isnt just about science, this is also about maths, economics, engineering and management. Management, it has taken the world 50 years to put oil processing infrastructure in place to do the amount we do today ao somehow we have to start building huge plant to replace oil plant.

Science, now you want to find via science an unknown technology that has the energy density of oil, (or at least about 12 to 1 energy return on energy invested) and build plant on the scale of several millions of barrels per day every year for the infinite future...

Consider the first thing, oil and coal are inground resources we exploit....the new tech you dream of to achieve this mythical replacement has to be something like this.....jsut where is it? this mythical raw energy source that we havent noticed in the last 100 years while we have scoured the earth for oil?

Well I will give you a clue on the one possibility, methane deep down in the ocean...however just like BP's fiasco it wil be a huge challenge to get it out sheaply enough to allow our global economy to survive let alone flourish, thats the economics bit.

Black and white....thats simple its going to be tough, pretty tough, fsking tough and bloody impossible...pick one...


Ive actually worked on nuclear subs....built them....so I do know something about the stuff....

The difference betwen my quotes and yours is I have an engineering background going back decades and have studied Peak oil and AGW for 5+ years....you only seem to have the second rate ability to insult.


You could consider even just fission nuclear based methods of energy generation, uranium, thorium, breeder-type reactors, TWR reactors etc. That should keep us going for a while, before you even engage in talk about fusion etc

Chemical based methods of energy generation are prehistoric by comparison.


See above quote to Vic...ie I have some nuclear experience.....the old tech is frankly dead, fast breeders etc....even if there was enough uranium and thats doubtful (reserach comments on the "red book" ) the old nuclear tech is simply to ghastly to dispose of....some of the interesting reports on Sellafield in the UK where afte 60 years of nuclear work now need enormous and nasty clean up....should be eye openers....

The new generations of nuclear plant look very promising, you jsut ship out a sealed bottle, hook it up and it lasts ten years, replace bottle.

Fusion at present simply doesnt work....

The trouble is one of scale, time and transport fuels and not nuclear power....ie we need cheap transport energy sources and it needs to be a drop for petrol and deisel....

If you are genuinely interested there are some great sites that talk about the problems of getting this problem solved....it cant be frankly, its to big and its too late and no one wants to do it...........so based on political lack of will power its probable that we will be into oil crisis 3 or 4 before the panic sets in and we actually have a start.

The good thing is NZ is small enough and un-popualted enough and has considerable hydro that we might be reasonable OK....much of the rest of the world's nationa economies are frankly f***** the danger is we are pulled down with them.



This guy isn't an 'expert' he's a drip, In 10 years we are going to replace a large proportion of the liquid fuel consumption by the magic of technology...yeah right.

And he abuses, Jevons, what Jevons noted was that increasing efficency, increased economic viability and therefore increased consumption, and he was right if they hadn't moved to oil, they would have run out of coal.

What Wallys like this don't appreciate is that all the cheap energy has created structures that require it to continue, that he won't get by looking backwards


Neven - absolutely. 

And if they go for the coal that's still there, they run into the same paradigm.

And the gas.

And the uranuim.

But instead of intelligent rebuttal, you get comments like the above (who said anything about the world going to end? - different yes, end no) and dropped-balls like the Nat Radio Panel this arvo. So close...

Did you see those oildrum threads about Korea and India?




What was the Korea & India thread,? I did read the other day that Japan has a huge SPR and we (NZ) have a sharing agreement with them -- yippee


"With gasoline soon to cost  six pounds a gallon (£1.32 pounds/liter), the British government is already considering  alternative rationing systems to the brute price mechanism at the pumps"

"$147 per barrel prices brought global economic growth to a screeching halt."

Sure....maybe because in ten years we will be to broke to buy much.


Gareth I thought this thread looked like PDK bait, and sure enough he bit:)

One thing that stands out as missing from this guys calculations is the fuel used in shipping, around 50% I what I have read. I don't know of any technologies that have been targeted are making ships more economic to run, and if there was the time required to refit them would be significant.

Lucky I have a good bicycle:) Though not as good as Murry's by the sound of it.

I think there is some R&D into shipping, like kiteship.com or solar assisted ships etc. One immediate improvement that is ready to go is simply commerical ships that are nuclear powered 20+ years of shipping on one refuel.

To start with we are talking thousands of reactors even if there was the uranium....lets say there is.....so tens of thousands of ships with processed uranium in them...spot the hijack.....


Scarfie - whether it was, or wasn't, there's only one valid action, and it ain't to shut up!

We can cut them some slack, though. The training they've had all their lives, hasn't told them a thing about ultimate scarcities, nor about the fact that nothing happens without a versatile energy-source.

At the end of the day, they want this site to 'make money', make that: make more money.

That needs more hits so they can sell more advertising, and more hits on a site with this name, meanst more people thinking of borrowing. Which is the old 'draw-down against the future thing'.

If you're on a treadmill you have to believe in it.

Shipping has actially slowed down recently:


"Maersk spokesman Bo Cerup-Simonsen said: "The cost benefits are clear. When speed is reduced by 20%, fuel consumption is reduced by 40% per nautical mile. Slow steaming is here to stay".

But I'm more concerned with the fact that Treasury are going to listen to this nonsense. It's like flying Nixon into address the KKK.

Yes I have delved into naval architecture also.

For every knot past six the fuel consumption is almost exponential.

Most freighters are doing double or even triple that.

Earthrace did England to Australia on one tank of gas, 1080Hp but 13000 miles on 12500 litres, but only at 7 knots. Got to 9 knots and it was 15 L/Hr. At 22 it was 150 L/Hr.

Interesting point scarfie on shipping. The late Rod Donald did suggest we revert to sending our exports on sailing ships...

you don't actually need to go as far as sail.

Conventional shipping runs on a variety of grades and is cargo/mile efficient.

It'll be around long after those cars aren't servicing those new Auckland sprawls of ticky-tacky.

new Auckland sprawls of ticky-tacky. Now you are baiting me.Lol.

As I understand it part of the oil issue is refining, with Russia in particular. So yes I think HFO is a lot easier to produce than petrol. 

I guess someone weighing up the profit potential of building a refinery would have to balance the potential profit with regard to the quantity of oil remaining, so not a lot more are likely to be built.

Interestingly a mate that works for Sanfords working on converting his boat from diesel to HFO perhaps 4 years ago. Actually quite a simple operation, largely centred around heating the fuel lines. I am not even sure if that need a diesel warm up circuit with the gensets to draw heat from.

I actually think there is the potential to use kites as an althernative to sails in the future.

One thing I think will be fascinating is how long they can keep running all those F18's, not to mention a carrier fleet.


Yes, I've got a vintage crawler tractor we can run on anything - kero, diesel, petrol, alcohol - once she's warmed up, you just switch her over. Even has a two-part tank for just this - built in 1936, I guess you used what you could get.

I have a soft-spot for sail - spent some years afloat under it - but it only really suits the 'trades and the southern ocean, as Erikson found out:


you'll do better than ticky-tacky, but I don't think the majority of developers will.

God I hope someone does something

That about sums up the opposition to Peak oil.

Open bible, pray....


The ultimate irony will be when PDK heads down the garden to dig up some of them luscious organic Jersey Bennys - ...and up through the ground came a'bubblin' crude....next thing ya know PDK's a millionaire........

and that solves the global enegy crisis?

Lets say he's sitting on a second Ghawar 5mbpd output....300billion barrels of it....that see's us stop the oil drop for maybe 4 years....but takes 4to 6 to get on line.....

Just doesnt work...


Well its looking like he will do OK, you I dont think so.


I'd settle for an Ellie-May. y'all.

Although I think she'd be a bit long in the peticoat by now.

This guy is scarey. His attitude alone is dangerous. I have read far better accounts of peak production in oil and the growing demand from a burgeoning consumer world. 1 barrell used to yield 99, now its 5, soon to be 3. Nothing comes close to the energy released by crude. Absolutely nothing!

Don't get me wrong, I can see all the good bits in regard to technology (note the plug for the US made car!), but he is so dismissive of so much evidence to the contrary of what he is saying. Not to mention his arrogant depiction of the abuse of chinese people, for his sake (or ours) at the end of the day.

Sorry, not impressed snd this guy is supposed to be an academic??

"this guy is supposed to be an academic"

The fresh water school of economics has helped take us to the brink of economic collapse...whats one more nutter?


"What speculators will have to worry about is where things are going. If we learned anything from the last recession, it was our oil dependent, transport heavy, global economy doesn’t run very well on $147 per barrel crude.

And other than bailing out bankrupt investment banks and automobile companies at the cost of record public-sector deficits, not much has changed in our economies over the past three years to suggest our next encounter with that these kinds of prices will lead to a different result.

We are moving inexorably closer to another oil price induced recession. And when we get there, oil demand and oil prices will once again collapse.

The only question is will we see $200 per barrel oil first?"

Bets on.....maybe bet on the drop the other side again....past $147? for myself I cant see it unless it happens so fast the world's economy doesnt have time to collapse, say $150 inside the next month....if it takes months ie we get say $10 up a month then July sounds about right again....maybe as this clown said of last time, back down to $20 and not $35.

Yes could not agree more...The Bernanke has not accounted for social acrimony and out of control spec interest. But then he has his own rulz for accounting as well so the whole idea of a true n fair view does not apply to him or his mates geekner and obama. Which makes me think Julia Gillard is just a tad ignorant tobe  heaping so much praise on such a corrupt govt?? Huh?

Steven ! Calm down! You presume you are the only one with science background, quite bigoted and concrete in thinking,unable to concede that you do not know everything. There are things that people could not imagine 50 years ago,it was beyound their imagination. There are countless engineers like you around in the world. FYI, yes I do have science background to the level of Uni and then post graduation qaulifications and experince. What science taught me is to be scepticle and keep the mind open .

Some questions for Phillip Verleger:-

Q1: Nuclear, Oil, Shale Gas, Coal, Wood.... How long did it take to manufacture that energy source and how much is available to be consumed?

Q2: Are we using that energy at a rate greater than it can be replaced at?

 If we are consuming at a greater rate, than replacement rate... it follows, some change in energy consumption habit will be required.

Q3: What is the energy return on energy invested on Manufacturing and running a Chevy Volt, viz'a' viz, Someone Commuting to work via Electric Train, or Cycling, or Horse/Donkey or Walking... oreven finding different work?

Q4: Is the value of the Work done greater or less than the energy consumed to achieve the result of our Labors?

These are the questions we must ask of ourselves and act upon...and quickly!

Team Bernard - reading articles from bloggers like steven, powerdownkiwi, mbruce and the one above (10:09pm) are of more value then your “Bla Bla Guru Verleger”. So why not listen and use the knowledge, expertise - the potential of your blog members when placing an issue ?

In your interviews I can hardly hear questions/ comments coming from members. Are we just wasting our time ?

Kunst - as I mentioned above - I think we have to cut folk like Bernard some slack. For years they haave rubbed shoulders with, and/or reported on, folk who move-and-shake in the fiscal world. While it all went along on the up-and-up, they looked to have the answers, and when the answers are had, there are no questions.

Then the ship hits the iceberg.

He got closer on The Panel today, than he's ever got. But it's a big step - it has implications for mortgages, for wellbeing of kids - and the ability to look really silly amongst his peers. He'll get there, he's not stupid, nor disingenuous.

It's easy for us -     :)

Indeed Kunst, we may well be wasting our time.

I cant decide what depressed me most today - the fact that the nation's monetary policy has been hijacked and no longer takes account of inflationary concerns or the fact that interest.co.nz thought it worthwhile to highlight this drivel.

Finally to just further extend the lifeboat metaphor (a quote from Westexas, at the Oildrum)

''Consider the first 15 minutes after the Titanic hit the iceberg versus the last 15 minutes before the ship sank. In the first 15 minutes, only a handful of people knew that ship would sink, but that did not mean that the ship was not sinking. In the last 15 minutes, it was readily apparent to everyone that the ship was sinking, but by then it was far too late to try to get to a lifeboat".

Andy, your comment and a couple of others sound suspicously to me like 'I don't agree with this guy's views so they shouldn't have published it.' 

I would have thought most people would agree with Verleger's comments that the United States, and the world in general, has pursued a disastrous energy policy for the past 40 years and the view that greater co-operation is needed to improve things.

Some of his other views were new to me and I thought would make for interesting topics of discussion.

Gareth - that's fair comment. Some of us are so far along this road that we just shoot at the target when it springs up.

Yes, they have pursued a disastrous energy policy - but concurrent with the disaster of pursuing exponential growth, based on real things (I have no objection to virtual exponential growth - just don't expect to buy something real with the virtual money, as folk are finding out the hard way).

And true, the only way forward from wherever you are at any given time, is to play the best card in the pack, followed by the next best.

Efficiency is the best card in the energy pack - then you simply need less to do more, regardless of the energy in question.

Which is the track that folk like me have long headed down.

You - if you think good reportage is a valid course, could do this:

read that Clint Smith parliamentary report. Then search for Government rebuttal - there's none. Then ask them the question: "How can you advocate car-serviced suburban sprawl, given this report?" and "Given that even the timescale you indicate, is shorter that the built lifetime of housing (30 years vs 50 - and the reality is 100) what is your plan for the short-fall.

Their approach is just an ideology, much like the Tea Party :


and should be exposed as such.


Cheers PDK. Where is the Clint Smith report you refer to?


It lieth upon the table. but it assumeth the ability to assimilate and thence cogitate.

worthwhile perusing the references.

cheers, PDK

Cheers, PDK. Read the artlicle over the weekend. A good summary of the current situation...

Wow, a blatant troll, not seen one of these ones around here before, hopefully it gets kicked off fast.

Kunst, this wasn't an interview. It was a talk given to a room with perhaps 100 people (Infratil investors and the like) in it.

The suggestion of technical silver bullet(s) has been examined In Searching for a Miracle: ‘Net Energy’ Limits and the Fate of Industrial Society,

Richard Heinberg examines 18 energy sources by their “net energy” and nine other criteria. the report is intended as a non-technical examination of a basic question: Can any combination of known energy sources successfully supply society’s energy needs at least up to the year 2100?

"the report  concludes that all known energy sources are subject to strict limits of one kind or another. Perhaps the most significant limit to future energy supplies is the “net energy” factor—the requirement that energy systems yield more energy than is invested in their construction and operation.

The report explores some of the presently proposed energy transition scenarios, showing why, up to this time, most are overly optimistic, as they do not address all of the relevant limiting factors to the expansion of alternative energy sources. Finally, it shows why energy conservation (using less energy, and also less resource materials) combined with humane, gradual population decline must become primary strategies for achieving sustainability."

read it here ...

As quoted in the report :

"THIS REPORT IS INTENDED as a non-technical
examination of a basic question: Can any combination
of known energy sources successfully supply society’s
energy needs at least up to the year 2100?"

How can you do a  non-technical examination of this subject, at a minimum it requires highly technical knowledge?

Robby - interesting mindset .

It is intelligently disseminated for those who don't care to take the time.

You realise, of course, that those who don't care to take the time have forfeited their right to decry (being less-knowledged). 'Tis just a logic thing.

You could try this:


and take the time to peruse the references.

Then ask the question; with that in their posession, unrefuted, the Govt comes out and states that car-serviced suburban sprawl is the go for the next 30 years - on what factual basis?

You have to be either stupid, or be capable of blind adherence to an ideology, to do that.

Or both.




All I am saying is how can you consider Richard Heinberg and that report to be some sort of credible final evidence as pertains to all future potential energy sources for the human species?

a) He has no technical background whatsoever, he is a writer. Makes his living selling books - he is reliant on the same rampant, sell to the masses consumer model for his living that he claims is not sustainable.

b) Have you checked his travel schedule for the past year? All that jetsetting around doesn't seem to be terribly consistant with the peak-oil theories he espouses.

c) He also seems to be engaged in much preaching to government taskforces, (despite this lack of background). Surely at the very least government could be putting this money and other money squandered on report after report into R&D etc, rather than paying for his lifestyle choices?

d) And he's a 9/11 truther - just for good measure.

I'm not saying we are going to have a car-serviced sprawl for the next 30 years and on into the future, I haven't seen the future, but this furoure over oil seems completely blinded to all other possibilities.

The paradox here seems to be that those adamant about peak-oil and the world running out of viable energy alternatives seem to be frustrated/impateint at the general public for their projecting into the future of current oil consumption and ever-growing consumer demand. At the same time aren 't many peak oilists also making similar projections on into the future about peoples rates of consumtion, and therefore catastrophe.

Robby - um

Given that those who 'win' in any status-quo, never (history tells us) let BAU go, then by default, it will be the outsiders who have it right, in the face of change.

I have no formal qualifications, nor a formal technical background - but I use a drive mechanism which delivers power for 230 deg, rather than the 180 (pedals, crankshafts) that everyone else in the world uses. So - I'm not particularly overawed. Anyone of reasonable intellect can get themselves informed. Any sphere I've entered, I've found boundaries that haven't been pushed.

anyway, try this:


he's 'qualified', if it means something to you.

The argument that Heinberg flies everywhere, is the same shyte that Jim Mora pours on Al Gore's efforts. Don't worry about the messenger, worry about the message - it's what they're delivering. You - and Mora - are looking for ways to dodge the bullet before you've evaluated the bullet. Suggests a pre-ordained wish for a particular outcome.

My observations tell me that a fiscal system based on exponential growth, underwritten by extraction of resources (in turn exponential) can't last, and that it will fall over at point where it's bigger - in all respects - than it's ever been before.

Rates of consumption per head can indeed be reduced, and will be, whether we like it or not. Equillibrium on this planet, long-term?  2 billion of our species, at subsistence level, 1 billion at our present level.  Give or take.

The problem is that the choice we have - to let it happen, or to apply the brakes voluntarily - is not being debated. Those of us who raise the possibility that there may be a problem - are ridiculed, sidelined, or undermined. As you do with Heinberg. Anything but have the debate - have you noticed?

It's not an issue for us, of course - we will have assumed that kind of flak would be flung when we decided whether to enter the arena, and presumably have decided that we can wear it; that the message is important enough.



















further on Heinberg - Robby has it a bit wrong.

Heinberg does skype lectures, rather than fly. I went to a 2-hour one myself, here at Otago Uni, he was in California.

Assumption can be the mother of all misconceptions.

Peak oil has had studies and reports made made by oil companies, geologists, economists since the 1950s.

All piont to dates/years, consistantly between 2000 and 2015..most 2000 to 2010.

The current atomspheric levels of carbon, I believe are about 1/4 of of when the carbon was being taken out of the atmosphere back in pre and dinosour days..not all the carbon in the oil is put into the atmosphere..eg plastics, as to what proportion I do  not know, and as to what proportion we bury at land fills as plastic bags I dont know....I would imagine it to be a substanual proportion of what we have dug up over the last 100 yrs...It would follow that if we use the 1/4 now in the atmosphere plus what is in solid form, it would not be unreasonable to assume we have dug up and used over 1/2 of the world reserves.

It is not just peak oil that is the issue, but the expense of extrating the remaining oil, the exspense of the products that are made from it, and if the majority of the worlds population can afford it.....eg  the cost of harvasting and transporting on top of the price of a potato.

If that potato becomes too expensive, will that or will humanity allow a rectification in our population?

Will atternative sources of energy /technology be here in time plus be able to sustain with the current population plus keep up with population growth in the next 50yrs?

Commonsence from behind a keyboard says  "no"

Which then gives rise to the next question if that is so.  Who in the worlds population will be OK and who will not? Will it be the futures trader  on Wall street or the baby boomer in the outter suburbs who still knows how to grow a potato?



There's a bit of reasearch going on into photosynthesis, DNA, and the ability to convert sunlight, here at Otago Uni. I've heard lectures from a couple of the PhD students involved in the project - v interesting. A valid line of research.

It doesn't address the time-scale or the magnitude of the current problem, but I like it.

Gas?  Here's where it fits in to the scheme of things:


doesn't do enough.

And fusion?  My physics Prof was engaged in fusion research in the '70's, and it was "30 years off". It's still "30 years off".

and it only does electricity, as does the photosynthesis. You have to transmit it, or store it (batteries, hydrogen) and transport it.

Storage is the bit that MIT have cracked and that is the key to it,  watch the video link on the earlier link to see.

It is quite possible that this Libyan drama etc will blow over & the oil price will revert to lower levels.  However, there are obviously going to various headwinds:

  • Peak oil, not too far away
  • Peaking & constricted supply of other energy-related resources, eg rare earths
  • Higher populations in oil-producing regions, wanting to use the (subsidised) oil themselves
  • Chinese & Indians wanting a bigger share of a finite resource
  • Instability, as the youthful & unemployed populations of Middle Eastern countries demand more say in government, over the western-friendly gerontocracies in place at present

In a sane world, the NZ Government would start to plan for this.  OK, its late, but better late than never.  The fact that we run a chronic current account deficit means that any reduction in imports should be sought out.

OK, so let us say the price of oil drops.  The Government should introduce a new tax or levy, to keep the price near current levels.  The $$ could be used for infrastructure development, Chch earthquake relief, whatever. 

Plus the higher price would give people ongoing impetus to change their habits - do I REALLY need that SUV?  Do we need three cars in our household?  How about dusting off that bike sitting in the shed?  Should I be using public transport?  etc etc

That would be in a sane world.  In the real world, I think you will find the government would just look the other way

Cheers to all.


There's more to oil than energy.  Remember it's used to actually make things (eg. plastics) as well as being involved directly in the production of food.  I believe only roughly one third is used for transportation.

So as long as people want/need oil-derived stuff, and want/need food, it looks like there will still be demand for oil.


Let's face it - Infratil isn't going to invite a speaker who is bearish about the future of oil.

I suspect that Shell knew full well what it was doing when it sold off its NZ distribution and retail network.  It is divesting itself of the operations that don't have much of a future, as the turnover of of retail petrol and diesel goes downhill from its peak around now. 

My feeling is that time will show that Shell got out at the right time, and that Infratil bought a lemon.  That's their problem, but the sad thing is that the NZ public via the NZ Super Fund bought into the other half of Greenstone.   


Exxon is dong the same if not all the oil majors....ie getting out of retail....protect the brand image.....Shell for instance is pretty closely linked to abuses.....I for one try and avoid buying Shell petrol....



...and the band played on....life boat anyone? Make sure it floats...

God speed to the Japanese people.

The implications of this event on the global insurance/reinsurance industry are unimaginable.

I'm beginning to think nature is the biggest threat to globalisation's great march.

I find it interesting that  Greenstone Energy co-owner Infratil's feel The need to invite in someone whos so kooky.....maybe they are getting spooked..... realise they have been sold a yellow pages?

Even if the tech was true, what he isnt talking about is the time to make it scale.....how many hundred of millions of cars are there? and how many volts and priuses do they make per annum?  so how many years does it take to get us onto mostly volts and priuses? ignoring that the prius is around $45k+ and the equiv std toyota I looked at today was $21k....i couldnt afford the std toyota let alone a prius and with a life expectancy of about 10 years it will never make sense for me to buy one.....

So the likes of most joe public like me will be on some other form of transport if petrol costs too much.....which means of course the retail business these clowns bought with all the forecourts and francises have a life of maybe a decade and ppl wont be buying them.........some business model....



Despite all the abuse levelled at this guy's opinion...he has turned out to be spot on, with his prophecy beginning to come true less than 5 years later. Note his prediction that oil would end up less than $100/barrel...an incredible statement at the time.

Your access to our unique content is free - always has been. But ad revenues are under pressure so we need your direct support.

Become a supporter

Thanks, I'm already a supporter.