The Oil Depletion Protocol

 
 

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Detailed provisions shall cover the definition of the several categories of oil, exemptions and qualifications, and the scientific procedures for the estimation of Depletion Rate.

 

The signatory countries shall cooperate in providing information on their reserves, allowing full technical audit, such that the Depletion Rate may be accurately determined.

 

The signatory countries shall have the right to appeal their assessed Depletion Rate in the event of changed circumstances

The Oil Depletion Protocol

The "Oil Depletion Protocol" (also know as the "Uppsala Protocol" and the "Rimini Protocol") was first proposed by the world famous petroleum geologist Dr Colin Campbell in 1996. The objective of the protocol is to enable the signatory nations to slowly phase out their dependence upon finite, and rapidly diminishing, Oil. Although it will have global effect only when Nations sign up to its framework, individuals, companies and other organisations can all sign up to support the protocol. Krofire Enterprises Ltd, and Carbon-Cutters.com, signed up to the Protocol in April 2008 and March 2007, respectively.

Why the need?

Oil Depletion has been a matter of commonly accepted scientific fact since M King Hubbert accurately predicted the peak of North American Oil Production for the early 1970's. Since then geologists have differed about the date of the Global Peak but it has broadly been plotted, by most, as around 2005 to 2015. Governmental organisations, some oil companies and middle-eastern producers have since obscured data on Oil reserves and supplied over-optimistic projections of potential supply. However, even the most optimistic estimates of Peak put it no later than 2030. Nobody disagrees on its inevitability. It will happen within most of our lifetimes.

Who cares?

After "Peak Oil" the Oil supply rate can never increase, it will decline. Demand is increasing exponentially as the newly industrialised nations adopt cars, fridges, TV's, roads, infrastructure, computers and so on. Industrialisation increases the dependency upon oil, not only for energy but also for the feedstock used to produce practically everything - from plastics and medicines to fertiliser and clothing. For example, ten calories of fossil fuel energy are used to produce every calorie of our food. Even if no developing countries were evolving fossil-fuel-dependent industry, the rate of economic growth in already-industrialised nations would bring on oil-depletion.

 

At Peak the price of oil, and everything else rises uncontrollably. Since we need increasing oil supplies to maintain our Businesses, Economies, Jobs and way of life then Military intervention will follow with Terrorism following swiftly afterwards. People and Businesses will find that normal operations will become impossible in a world of sky-rocketing prices and fading stability. Recession and Economic collapse will follow. This could happen very quickly after the half-way-point of oil depletion.

 

It is not the end of oil that will be our challenge. Fossil fuels will be around for hundreds of years. The Peak is a 'tipping point' after which the pace of change may be extremely rapid. The speed at which alternatives to oil come on to the market is not going to keep up with the pace of such change. Hence the Oil Depletion Protocol.

What does the Protocol say?

Here we will summarise and paraphrase the Protocol for our Business readership. To read the original please go here.

 

  • History has seen an increasing pace of change. Energy demand has grown rapidly in parallel with World population over the last 200 years since the Industrial Revolution.
  • The rise in energy supply has come mainly for fossil fuels. Such fuels are finite therefore are subject to inevitable depletion.
  • Oil supplies 90% of transport fuel and is essential to trade and agriculture (to feed the expanding population).
  • Oil is not distributed evenly and is concentrated largely under just five middle-eastern countries.
  • We have largely discovered all of this planet's oil reserves. Despite rapid changes in technology and geological knowledge, the discovery of new Oil reserves peaked in the 1960's
  • Since we keep using more and more oil, but discover less and less, then a peak in production is inevitable within the first decade of the 21st Century
  • Oil is a critical resource which affects all aspects of modern life so its depletion will have grave political and geopolitical implications
  • It is necessary to plan an orderly transition to a new reality of a world of reduced energy supply. Action has to be taken early to avoid wasting energy, to stimulate the entry of substitute energies and to prolong the life of the remaining oil reserves.
  • It is only desirable to meet these challenges in a co-operative and equitable manner, such as to address climate change, economic and financial stability, and to avoid conflicts for access.

 

Therefore the Oil Depletion Protocol proposes that Nations should convene to agree an accord with the following objectives:

 

  • to avoid profiteering from shortage, such that oil prices may remain in reasonable relationship with production cost;
  • to allow poor countries to afford their imports;
  • to avoid destabilising financial flows arising from excessive oil prices;
  • to encourage consumers to avoid waste;
  • to stimulate the development of alternative energies.

 

Such an Accord shall have the following outline provisions:

 

  • The world and every nation shall aim to reduce oil consumption by at least the world depletion rate.
  • No country shall produce oil at above its present depletion rate.
  • No country shall import at above the world depletion rate.
The signatory countries shall cooperate in providing information on their reserves, allowing full technical audit, such that the Depletion Rate may be accurately determined. The signatory countries shall have the right to appeal their assessed Depletion Rate in the event of changed circumstances.

Why not let the Market worry about this?

An assessment was undertaken in Feb '05 for the US Department of Energy called "Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management" (by the 'Science Applications International Corporation') . The report dismisses the idea that the market could make good any shortages in oil. Price can only signal immediate scarcity by which time it will be too late to do anything about it. Work must be undertaken years in advance to prepare the way forward when market forces and price will become a factor. However we cannot rest entirely on Market Forces any more than we can rely upon the Market to raise Armies, ban Child Pornography or control the Hole in the Ozone layer. Since it is a matter of financial stability and Economic security, upon which Markets rely, then International cooperation at Governmental level is necessary. The Oil Market has not traditionally been left to market forces and has been controlled by Governments or cartels for most of its history.

 

The answer to this and many more questions can be found at an FAQ here.

 

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