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Energy crunch seen after 2011

Peak oil, the point at which global petroleum production reaches its maximum, could come as early as 2011, an expert told a conference in Cape Town.

Chris Skrebowski, editor of the British Energy Institute’s magazine Petroleum Review, told the conference that the peak, of around 93 million barrels a day, would come in 2011 or 2012.

But there would be supply shortfalls in winter before then.

Current production was some 86 million barrels a day, of which a quarter were used by America.

Skrebowski told the conference that the world remained reluctant to face up to the looming peak, and the fact that to avoid economic disaster it needed to shed oil demand.

While petrochemicals, and air and sea transport, would continue to be largely reliant on oil, something could be done about the fact that half of every barrel of oil went on land-based surface transport.

The technology already existed for electric vehicles, and the concept could even be extended to heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks by using pantographs, or overhead electric connections, on major roads.

The trucks could use battery power for the last leg of their journey.

The German-based Energy Watch Group said in a report issued last year that world oil production had in fact peaked in 2006 and that output was now declining by several percents a year. (dispatch online)