Peak Oil and Coal Seam Gas: we don’t want it but we need it. Or why Martin Ferguson is about the only Oz politician spruiking CSG.

By August 10, 2011 No Comments

AAP reports that Australian Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has told an oil and gas safety conference in Perth that Australia’s emerging CSG  industry needs to work with government to sell the benefits of CSG as a clean energy source to the public, because so many in the community want to “demonise” it.

Q: So why is he bravely talking up CSG, when so many of his colleagues are currently investigating the damage it will do to the environment?

A: He knows what we’re facing – a crippling energy shortage. It’s not on the political agenda, but it should be. And it will be.

CSG: most of us don’t want it, but we need it.

The graphs below tell  the story. They are a selection of those  published in the Peak Oil News and Message Boards on August 5, 2011. In short, the first graph shows the gap between the discovery of the global oil reserves and our production; it portrays the growing shortage. This is reinforced by the next graph which shows the extraordinary increase in consumption by China in a four year period to 2007. 

The trends in Australia are no different.

In summary our coming energy crisis is all about Peak Oil and how we replace petroleum: in 2000 Australia produced all the oil it needed. Just 10 years later we only produce half the oil we need. But our demand is increasing every year and we are dependent more and more on the rest of the world to supply us. Unless we produce more of our oil, by 2030 Australia could be running on empty. 

Where does the oil and the substitute energy sources come from? Shale, wind, solar, wave motion, biofuels, coal seam gas; the evidence points to us needing all of it.

From a public relations point of view, it’s notable that while it should be a major talking point, but it’s not a palatable topic. This is because while so many interest groups want to argue their particular causes, in reality there are no easy answers. So politicians are reluctant to tackle it and for public relations people in this sector it’s a dog’s breakfast. It gets deferred, and the problem grows.

This is a sustainability issue, par excellence. 

Peak Oil: Supply and Demand

Oil Production v. Oil Discoverynull

Oil Production v. Oil Discovery

Oil Demand Changes by Region, 2003-2007null

Oil Demand Changes by Region, 2003-2007

Oil Supply Changes by Region, 2003-2007Oil Supply Changes by Region, 2003-2007

4 thoughts on “Peak Oil and Coal Seam Gas: we don’t want it but we need it. Or why Martin Ferguson is about the only Oz politician spruiking CSG.”

  1. Kenparkinson says:

    Peak Oil as a theory has been thoroughly discredited. The world now has greater reserves of Oil than it has ever had. However if we put that aside for the sake of the Climate Change acolytes, where is the line drawn when it comes to acceptable trade-offs to produce gas?

    The reality is we don’t need gas at all. We simply want it to maintain our standard of living as cheaply as possible. There are plenty of alternatives.

    There is no alternative for Food and Water and there are limited places where these two essentials come from. If one were to think clearly about this, it would be obvious gas exploration should commence in those areas where the opportunity cost between Food/Water is less expensive i.e. the desert. Not in areas of highly productive farmland that produce large amounts of food very cheaply.

    Who is the Wilkinson Group’s patron for these comments?

    • PeterW says:

      Hi Ken, thanks for your comments. I’ll reply to your three paragraphs in time. The words are my own – no patron. Why do you think there would be? Best, Peter W

  2. Clare says:

    It is going to take some very brave and lateral thinking to reconcile the need for maintaining our economy and reducing net carbon emissions. Coal and gas are seen as saviours of our economy. It seems that the government is oblivious to the obvious contradiction. We need some very clever thinking to get our alternatives up and running asap and maintain the economy while phasing out all coal and gas mining.

  3. Hi Peter,

    If we “need’ it so much, why are we selling (or planning to sell through huge new LNG plants) so much of it (the vast majority) offshore? What needs to happen is to stop expanding the unconventional gas industry until safer methods of extraction are developed and tested. Even if this takes 10-20 years.

    The gas will stay exactly where it is until then and can be used domestically after that – as required.

    Selling it offshore is just plain stupid, selling our energy future for fast bucks now instead of keeping it in the bank until actually required. There is no rush.

    Same should happen with coal – we are mining far more than is required domestically and screwing (rural) people in the process. Just slow down!


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