“How Australia survived peak oil” – release date 2030

It still surprises me that the impact of oil security and future oil price is not widely discussed in the planning of our towns, our residential developments and the future of our everyday lives.

Australia’s self sufficiency in meeting our demand for oil and other refinery feedstock production sits at around 66% in 2010, dropping steadily to 27% in 2030 according to a Dept of Resources Energy and Tourism report.

Aus Crude

So by 2030 (only 17 years away) we will be over 70% dependent upon overseas oil – more susceptible to global oil prices (which in the same report are indicated as being $113 per barrel by 2030 at current prices) and also more dependent upon global relationships. For a possible future scenario its worth considering the Cuban Oil Crisis and if you have the time watch the movie as to what happens when a country became reliant on oil imports to its detriment. I promise it is inspirational rather than doomsday!

Anyway, back to Australia. At the moment we currently use oil in Australia in the following proportions (in order of highest to lowest use):

Passenger Vehicles (Personal Use) 16%, Air Transport 12%, Road Distribution 12%, Industry 11%, Passenger Vehicles (Commuting) 9%, Mining 7%, Agriculture 5%. Source ABARE Energy in Australia 2010

Why is this important? Well, it is a low level of uncertainty (ie its pretty certain) that we will be in the position by 2030 that we will be over 70% reliant on oil imports but it is a high level of uncertainty (ie not sure if it will happen or not) that we will be in a situation like Cuba where we suddenly loose our 70% oil supply or that we will experience a very high oil cost. And if that scenario does play out what would happen to our everyday lives? Oh and one final kicker, we only have 90 days of oil stores in Australia.

Put yourself in the possible future reality. We import 70% of our oil needs and are in a sudden crisis where our major oil supply has been cut due to geopolitical conflicts, the price of oil has sky rocketed and we have 90 days before our oil stores run out.

How would you prioritise the use of the remaining oil? Food? Commuting? Air Travel? I know which one I would prioritise – food. But what about the percentage of the population that have to commute for work, that are on the fringes of our cities living very close to the line already, how would they get to work? How would we transport the food that is grown 7-12 hours truck ride away from our cities?

What would the movie “How Australia survived peak oil” look like?

Now imagine what an alternative scenario looks like – we are in a sudden crisis where our major oil supply has been cut due to geopolitical conflicts, the price of oil has sky rocketed but we have transitioned to alternative fuels and have reduced our oil demand through efficiencies to 30% of the 2010 levels.

Maybe the best selling movie in 2030 will be “How Australia avoided peak oil”!

2 Comments on ““How Australia survived peak oil” – release date 2030”

  1. I’m not sure anyone can escape peak oil. Unless you mean we will adapt, improvise, and eventually overcome and carry on. This is part of why even the idea of Peak Oil is so psychologically overwhelming. How can I live like I’ve never lived before. Oh, I know, begin now, begin here. Plan as best as I can for the future and take one day at a time.

    Maybe my character will have a part in this movie. No, this is not sarcasm, just an ever burning hope for the future.


    • Thanks for the comment informationforager.

      It is indeed an overwhelming prospect, as is a ‘how do we reduce our carbon emissions’. There are some rays of light in living a 1950s consumption level lifestyle but giving up what we ‘have’ now can be daunting. But do we really have what we think we have, and does it make us happy anyway.


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