Saturday, September 27, 2003

Petroleum Industry Urges Conservation

In the past, anyone who predicted the coming scarcity of resources faced ridicule as a chicken little or--even worse--a Club of Rome fanatic. Well, now it's industry representatives themselves that are telling us the resources are getting scarce.

Last Thursday the National Petroleum Council issued a report saying that; "There has been a fundamental shift in the natural gas supply-demand balance that has resulted in higher prices and volatility in recent years. In the very near-term, reducing demand is the primary means to keep the market in balance because of the lead times required to bring new supply to market."

To cut consumption, the council recommends updating building codes and equipment standards and implementing rules that would encourage power providers to use their most efficient plants.

Without significant advances in energy efficiency, the country's annual demand will rise above 30 trillion cubic feet by 2025, up from about 23 trillion cubic feet today, the council says. But it adds that even with advances in conservation, North America's natural gas resources will be insufficient to meet demand in the long term.

Production from traditional U.S. and Canadian basins has reached a plateau, the report says, noting that volume from North American natural gas fields is declining at an annual rate of more than 25 percent, requiring that many more wells to be drilled every year just to keep supplies steady.

Conservation--once ridiculed by Vice President Cheney--is now our only hope for avoiding serious energy shortages in coming years.

It will also bring tremendous pressure from gas and oil comanpies to open areas for exploration that are now off limits. In the face of shortages it will likely be impossible to block the demand for new drilling. Envirnmentalists need to become aware of the coming shortages and become more proactive by championing non polluting, renewable resources to gas and oil.


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