Coming to a gas pump near you?

It was an incredible revelation last week that the second largest oil field in the world is exhausted and past its peak output. Yet that is what the Kuwait Oil Company revealed about its Burgan field. The peak output of the Burgan oil field will now be around 1.7 million barrels per day, and not the two million barrels per day forecast for the rest of the field’s 30 to 40 years of life, Chairman Farouk Al-Zanki told Bloomberg. He said that engineers had tried to maintain 1.9 million barrels per day but that 1.7 million is the optimum rate. Kuwait will now spend some $3 million a year for the next year to boost output and exports from other fields.

However, it is surely a landmark moment when the world’s second largest oil field begins to run dry. For Burgan has been pumping oil for almost 60 years and accounts for more than half of Kuwait’s proven oil reserves. This is also not what forecasters are currently assuming.

Who knows…this may be what pushes us to have another space race to find truly renewable energy sources. Right now there isn’t much pressure. People are buying big cars, leaving all their lights, etc. And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

Yes, we need a serious slap in the wallet, and that could be in the offing sooner rather than later…

The implications for the global economy are indeed serious. If the world oil supply begins to run dry then the upward pressure on oil prices will be inexorable. For the oil producers this will come as a compensation for declining output, and cushion them against an economic collapse.

However, the oil consumers then face a major energy crisis. Industrialized economies are still far too dependent on oil. And the pricing mechanism of declining oil reserves will press them into further diversification of energy supplies, particularly nuclear, wind and solar power.

Wind and solar? How likely are they to cure the energy crisis? The future is most likely with nuclear energy, but try convincing a public who grew up with Three Mile Island that it’s smarter and cleaner to build more nuclear energy plants.


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