The Independent carries an apologia for the peak oil crowd titled, “A World without Oil” which attempts to bring some legitimacy to the panic at all costs crowd.

Scientists have criticised a major review of the world’s remaining oil reserves, warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit.

BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday, appears to show that the world still has enough “proven” reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates. The assessment, based on officially reported figures, has once again pushed back the estimate of when the world will run dry.

Sounds like good news to me, but of course, it’s too good to be true and we know that because reporter Daniel Howden finds a handy scientist to refute it:

However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives.

Well, maybe I’m reading this wrong, but it seems to me that someone working at a place called the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre might have a wee bit of a conflict of interest here. I don’t imagine that funding at the Centre would be all that robust if we weren’t running out of oil. They would also seem to have an inherent interest in conserving existing oil supplies. After all, if oil is ever actually depleted, there won’t be a need for any anlysis about that possibility.

I’m not sure how serious we should take the Centre’s scientist either:

According to “peak oil” theory our consumption of oil will catch, then outstrip our discovery of new reserves and we will begin to deplete known reserves.

Colin Campbell, the head of the depletion centre, said: “It’s quite a simple theory and one that any beer drinker understands. The glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it’s gone.”

Now that’s some deep analysis. Apparently, “two UK grant making trusts” are actually paying for this. That’s all I could find about their funding and I’ve yet to check out anyone on their list of Trustees and Advisors. I’ve only glanced at their website, but it seems to be full of concern about Peak Oil and Global Warming and Sustainable Development, a veritable herd of Malthusians.

Apparently, these folks haven’t heard of supply and demand curves:

If consumption begins to exceed production by even the smallest amount, the price of oil could soar above $100 a barrel. A global recession would follow.

It seems the end of the last sentence was edited. It should read: “A global recession would follow, which would reduce demand and cause the price to fall, thus perpetuating the never ending struggle between supply and demand.” Or maybe that’s just me.

The article also has the now required paragraph on global warming:

Jeremy Leggert, like Dr Campbell, is a geologist-turned conservationist whose book Half Gone: Oil, Gas, Hot Air and the Global Energy Crisis brought “peak oil” theory to a wider audience. He compares industry and government reluctance to face up to the impending end of oil, to climate change denial.

“It reminds me of the way no one would listen for years to scientists warning about global warming,” he says. “We were predicting things pretty much exactly as they have played out. Then as now we were wondering what it would take to get people to listen.”

It seems a little contradictory to be predicting global warming caused by burning oil at the same time you are predicting a peak in oil production that should drastically reduce the use of oil. I know, I know, it’s not just oil. But oil is where we get the vast majority of our transportation fuel and if it is truly depleting as rapidly as some say, the market will respond. If gasoline prices rise enough, alternatives will be developed.

Dr. Campbell loses his last shred of credibility when he states:

“When I was the boss of an oil company I would never tell the truth. It’s not part of the game.”

But I’m supposed to believe him now?

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