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Letter back from MP Alan Milburn from Alan Johnson (DTI)

 
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grinu



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 612

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 7:32 pm    Post subject: Letter back from MP Alan Milburn from Alan Johnson (DTI) Reply with quote

I sent a letter to my MP (Alan Milburn) about peak oil about two months ago and finally got a response today (from Alan Johnson). I'm going to respond to it shortly, but here it is in case anyone's interested....

"Thank you for your letter of 10 June to Margaret Beckett enclosing one from your constituent, Mr Chris (me) of (my address), about the peak in global oil production. I am replying as the issue falls within my Department's portfolio.

"The Government's assessment of the remaining lifespan of global oil reserves is outlined set out in the Energy White Paper 2003 "Our energy future - creating a low carbon economy" (http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/whitepaper/index.shtml). To quote from paragraph 6.15, 'Globally, conventional oil reserves are sufficient to meet projected demand for around 30 years, although new discoveries will be needed to renew reserves. Together with non-conventional reserves such as oil shales and improvements in technology, there is the potential for oil reserves to last twice as long.' This is consistent with the latest assessment by the IEA in its 2004 World Energy Outlook. The IEA concludes that '...global production of conventional oil will not peak before 2030 if the necessary investments are made.' Although the IEA notes that reserve additions from discoveries of new oil fields have fallen sharply since the 1960's, it notes that this is largely the result of reduced exploration activity in those regions with the largest reserves. For example, only 3% of wildcat wells drilled in the 10yrs to 2002 were in the Middle East, even though the region is thought to hold over a quarter of the world's undiscovered resources of oil and gas. There is likely to be a rebound in exploration and appraisal drilling in the Middle East in the coming decades, which will help boost the level of proven global oil reserves. Moreover, technology improvements will continue to increase recovery rates from existing fields.

However, the Government recognises that global oil (and gas) reserves are finite and that significant investment will be required to turn reserves into production. The UK is therefore working with producers, consumers and the international community to improve the conditions for investment in the international energy sector. On the demand side, the Government is working with developing countries to encourage more effective management of energy demand, through energy efficiency improvements and the development of renewable sources of energy.

Domestically, we remain committed to maximising the economic recovery of the UK's own oil and gas reserves. The PILOT inititative - a joint programme inv9olving the Government and the UK oil and gas industry - is central to this aim. Although we are now over halfway through the UK's total oil and gas reserves, there are still substantial quantities to be produced - potentially between 22 and 28 billion barrels of oil equivalent. This will allow the UK to continue to be a significant oil and gas producer for at least 20 years, and probably longer. Our challenge is to ensure we make the most of the technology and opportunities available to maximise the economic recovery of hydrocarbons from the UKCS. PILOT's role is to facilitate the unlocking of those remaining barrels by promoting a commercial and regulatory environment that continues to stimulate investment, activity and innovation in the basin.

Yours sincerely

pp.

Alan Johnson.

(approved by the minister and signed in his absence)."

There are a few things I'm going to question e.g. how exactly they expect to renew reserves, what they mean by "oil equivalent", whether projected demand is in line with current demand acceleration, what contingency plans are in place for when this 'finite' resource does run out - it is already becoming more scarce etc.

Does anyone else have things to add? Smile
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MacG



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 2863
Location: Scandinavia

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice that you at least got an answer. My standard question is immedeatly triggered:

And then..??

Fossile is fossile. All fossile stuff run out eventually. And then..??
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RevdTess



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 2874
Location: Newquay

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah the old 2003 IEA report trotted out again.

Thing is, the market has changed hugely in 2004 and 2005 due to the sudden increase in the rate of demand growth. For example, if you look at the so-called 'crack spread' for gasoil (aka diesel and heating oil) which is the premium paid for the oil product over and above the cost of the crude, in 2002-2003 it was trundling along at $2-4/bbl. Today it's around $15 and has spiked much higher. The continual government quotes from that 2003 report concerning expected demand growth are surely out of date.

Perhaps when we write to ministers we need to counter the arguments in the 2003 report with later data from equally respected organisations, otherwise the dialogue will never move on.

Incidentally, "barrels of oil equivalent" (boe) to my understanding is a way of describing the amount of energy in a non-oil form. It's not a description of quality or ease of extraction, just an indication that the energy is not all in the same form.
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RevdTess



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 2874
Location: Newquay

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MacG wrote:
Fossile is fossile. All fossile stuff run out eventually. And then..??


Why, the magic technology fairy driven by market forces will invent some new trick to defy the laws of physics!

Why ask such silly questions? Laughing
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MacG



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tess wrote:
MacG wrote:
Fossile is fossile. All fossile stuff run out eventually. And then..??


Why, the magic technology fairy driven by market forces will invent some new trick to defy the laws of physics!

Why ask such silly questions? Laughing


Sorry. Forgot about the tech fairy. I apologise. Wont happen again. Sorry again.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
will allow the UK to continue to be a significant oil and gas producer for at least 20 years, and probably longer


Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing
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johnhemming



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 255

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The word "significant" is non specific.

Incidentally I have got one of the peak oil posters displayed on the Lib DEm Friends of Kashmir Stand and the other I have here in the press area. (It is the media who need to take an interest now).

I could do with someone to sort out Labour and Conservative Parties.
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grinu



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 612

PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recently sent this response:

Quote:
Alan Milburn MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

06 March 2006

Dear Mr Milburn

I wrote to you some time ago with my concerns about what may happen when oil and gas peak. As everybody is aware, these fossil fuels are finite, so their eventual peaking is a certainty. What is in question is the date at which they are likely to peak, and the implications that this may have upon the UK?s economy (e.g. there have recently been a number of news stories covering job losses in the manufacturing sector due to high energy prices).

You kindly forwarded me a response from Mr Alan Johnson (DTI), which referred to the Energy White Paper 2003 ?Our energy future ? creating a low carbon economy?. Please note my concerns regarding the points raised in his letter:

1. Mr Johnson highlighted a paragraph (6.15) that read, ?Globally, conventional oil reserves are sufficient to meet projected demand for around 30years, although new discoveries will be needed to renew reserves.?

Please can you speculate where these new oil discoveries might be made, given that the finding of new oil reserves peaked in the 1960?s, and that the amount of new oil finds drops each year, despite massive investment and massive technological advances. One of my concerns is that we are currently consuming 4-6 barrels of oil for each barrel that is found. This, coupled with the un-foreseen dramatic rises in Asian and Indian demand (which were under-estimated by the Energy White paper and are still rising), is placing incredible strain on the world?s energy infrastructure.

2. The Energy White Paper also states that non-conventional oil may mean oil reserves will last twice as long.

It is true that investment in unconventional reserves e.g. tar-sands / oil-shales is now economically attractive. However, the extraction process (which involves excavating tonnes of earth/rock and heating it so that its tar content is released) uses up massive amounts of natural gas, and is costly and heavily polluting. Even if unconventional oils are utilised on a large scale (unlikely given their drawbacks and costs) the price of oil would need to be significantly higher than today to justify their extraction, let alone their transportation around the world. Even with the use of these non-conventional resources, there is still a major problem given the UK?s reliance on a readily available supply of cheap oil to provide for its agriculture, transport, heating, water treatment, distribution of goods, plastics (which are derived from oil), manufacturing etc.

3. The IEA concludes that ??global production of conventional oil will not peak before 2030 if the necessary investments are made.?

Please can you clarify the type of investments that are required? If oil is not there to find, how can more be found? What investments is the UK making?

4. ?the Government is working with developing countries to encourage more effective management of energy demand, through energy efficiency improvements and the development of renewable sources of energy.?

Please can you highlight any evidence of this approach within the UK? (e.g. it is currently more expensive to use public transport than it is to drive) and also confirm why there is currently such great investment in roads and airports, given the implications of peak oil and climate change and indeed the UK?s Kyoto commitments. Is the Government?s new stance on Kyoto targets related to the issue of peak oil?

In light of the fact that peaking is a certainty, I am disappointed by the Government?s short-term views. The response did not once mention how the UK intends to bridge the jump to renewables, which is likely to take a considerable number of years.

Please can you therefore confirm what steps the Labour government is taking to:
1. Reduce fossil fuel dependency and reduce reliance on declining, volatile energy sources.
2. Prepare for a peak in availability of oil and gas. (e.g. deal with the economic hardships and fuel poverty that can be expected should fuel prices rise to levels that are much more expensive than current prices; support UK farmers who are already struggling and whose farming methods are heavily oil intensive; maintain food distribution, which is heavily reliant on oil.

Please confirm the costs of these steps in the context of the cost of the Iraq war, and the context of possible involvement in war against Iran.

I highly recommend that you carry out some reading regarding the issues of an oil peak. The issue is now increasingly covered in the media, and there are a number of books available. I would particularly recommend that you look at the coverage on www.powerswitch.org.uk.

Other UK political parties are beginning to recognise the significance of peak oil. The BNP are now promoting themselves in the context of peak oil and I sincerely hope they do not gain the support of members of the public for being open about the issues which the current Labour Government appears to be ignoring. The Liberal Democrats have put forward an Early Day Motion, and I would be very grateful if you would show your support for this incredibly important issue by adding you name to it.

EDM 419
SUPPLIES OF CONVENTIONAL CRUDE OIL
27.06.2005
Hemming, John
That this House calls on the Government to recognise the increasing evidence for a global peak in conventional oil production in the near future, noting that this event means that global oil supplies will begin to decline terminally and that in turn an increase in global oil demand will not be met, that unconventional oil and alternative fuels will not be able fully to meet the growing gap between supply and demand and thus that will be the end of cheap and abundant oil with ever more challenging consequences for transport, agriculture, employment, the financial system, peace and security; and calls for the Government to acknowledge that as a peak in production is inevitable it must begin planning now.

I look forward to hearing from you and would be grateful if you could answer each of the questions I have raised.

Yours sincerely


Cc. Mr Alan Johnson (DTI).
Margaret Beckett MP.


And on the matter of Planning Policy Statement 3, which is ridiculously lenient on private house builders in terms of energy efficiency....

Quote:
Yvette Cooper MP, Minister for Housing & Planning
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London
SW1E 5DU

06 March 2006

Response to consultation papers: The Code for Sustainable Homes and Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3).

Dear Ms Cooper,

The Government has said it is committed to tackling climate change. I am therefore dismayed by your recent announcements on the Code for Sustainable Homes and Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing), which would squander the chance to make new communities energy efficient.

The proposed draft for the Code for Sustainable Homes is inadequate, for the following reasons:
? For energy use the Code?s minimum standard is no higher than the latest building regulations ? despite the fact the far higher standards are technically possible.
? Its scope has been reduced from all buildings to only new domestic dwellings.
? It remains voluntary for all private sector housing.

At the same time, the Government is proposing in PPS 3 to build large numbers of homes. It is unlikely that these homes will be built to good environmental standards because PPS3 calls only for voluntary use of the Code.

As they stand, these policies will undermine effective action on climate change. Please ensure that the highest building standards are used and made mandatory for all buildings.

Please take the points raised in this letter as my response to the public consultation.

Copied to Alan Milburn MP for information. Given the current energy climate, energy efficiency is a considerably important issue.

I look forward to your replies.


Yours sincerely


Cc. Mr Alan Milburn MP





[/quote]
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grinu



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 612

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two responses:

1.
Quote:
Thank you for your letter with your comments on Alan Johnson's response about oil and gas.

I have gone back to him with the points you raised, and will let you know as soon as I have a response.


2.
Quote:
Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the EDM 419 on supplies of conventional crude oil. Over the years I have made it my policy never to sign EDMs as I prefer to help my constituents in a more constructive manner.

I will raise all your points with my colleague Malcolm Wicks, and as soon as I receive a response, I will be back in touch.
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grinu



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 612

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Response from Malcolm Wicks...

Quote:
Dear Alan [Milburn]
Thank you for your letter ... on behalf of one of your constituents ... who raises a number of questions surrounding the Government's position on oil and gas exploration and energy policy.

Firstly, Mr ... wants to knowthe Government's position on new oil and gas discoveries. Oil and gas still make a vital contribution to the UK's energy needs and to our economy and Government will continue to support investment in the North Sea, where many opporunities still remain. We want to ensure that we maximise economic recovery of the UK's hydrocarbon resources. Around 36 billion barrels of oil equivalent have been produced in the UK so far, and estimates suggest there is still between 21 and 27 billion more to be recovered.

The key measure for the North Sea's future must be exploration. There is still significant enthusiasm for the North Sea and last year UK exploration and appraisal drilling was up almost 30% on 2004 and was at the highest level for 7 years. This is very encouraging but there is no room for complacency. Government will continue to work closely with the industry to ensure that the North Sea's full potential is realised.

Mr ... also asked about Government's work in developing countries to encourage efficient management of energy demands. The G8 summit at Gleneagles last July agreed a package of practical measures - the Gleneagles Plan of Action - on energy efficiency, clean power generation and research and development networks and financing. The establishment of a Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, involving developing countries with major energy needs was also agreed.

One of the practical recommendations at Gleneagles was the creation of an investment framework for clean energy and sustainable development. Work on the framework began last Septembet and we continue to work with the World Bank and the multilateral development banks to ensure that the framework delivers significant new investment in low carbon energy sources, energy efficiency and adaption to climate change in developing countries. At the World Bank meeting this month, the UK will proposed a $20billion target for leveraging public and private investment into alternative sources of energy, energy efficiency and adaption to cliamte change in developing countries.

The third area raised by Mr ... was the work Government is doing to reduce fossil fuel dependency. This is one element for consideration among a very wide range of issues linked to our current Energy Review. In January the Secretary of State and I began the Review process by launching the consultation document, 'Our Energy Challenge: securing clean, affordable energy for the long term'. The Review has a broad scope, and will consider aspects of both energy supply and demand focusing on medium and long-term policy measures beyond 2010, including transport and energy efficiency.

We are examining the potential role of a wide range of generating technologies, icluding renewables, cleaner coal technologies, gas and civil nuclear power. As the Prime Minister has emphasized, we need to undertake a full assessment of all options for helping the UK deliver out long-term Energy White Paper goals.

Finally, Mr ... asked about the preparation underway for a peak in oil and gas availability, and you sought the Government position on Early Day Motion 419 relating to Supplies of Conventional Crude Oil laid down by John Hemming. Perhaps I can cover these last two points together as they are both linked to peak oil.

The Government's assesment of the remaining lifespan of global oil reserves was outlined in the Energy White Paper 2003, 'Our energy future - creating a low carbon economy'. To quote from paragraph 6.15, "Globally, conventional oil reserves are sufficient to meet projected demand for around 30years, although new discoveries will be needed to renew reservs. Together with non-conventional reserves such as oil shales and improvements in technology, there is potential for oil reserves to last twice as long".

This is consistent with the assessment by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2005 World Energy Outlook. The IEA concludes that, "Global oil reserves today exceed the cumulative projected production between now and 2030, but reserves will need to be "proved up" in order to avoid a peak in production before the end of the projection period. Exploration will undoubtedly be stepped up to ensure this happens".

However, the Government recognises that global oil (and gas) reserves are finite and also that significant investment will be required to turn reserves into production. The UK is therefore working with producers, consumers and the international community to improve the conditions for investment in the international energy sector. On the demand side, the Government is working with developing countries to encourage more effective management of energy demand, through energy efficiency improvements and the development of renewable sources of energy. As I mentioned earlier, domestically, we remain committed to maximising the economic recovery the U's own oil and gas reserves.

Ultimately, market mechanisms will ration the remaining global supplies of oil (and gas) and incentivise a shift to alternative sources of energy. But governments need to take appropriate action in support of this and to promote energy efficiency. The Government is thereforealready putting in place policies that will help ease the UK economy away from power supplied primarily through fossil fuel supply as well as brining about reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

In the domestic sector, it is important that we must be as energy efficient as is practicable and affordable. The Government is tackling household energy efficiency using a number of different approaches including grants, incentives and the provision of information and advice.

Renewable energy will also play an important part in reducing carbon emissions, while also strengthening energy security and improving our industrial competitiveness as we develop cleaner technologies, products and processes.

The Government also published, in July 2002, a Powering Future Vehicles strategy that brings together measures for promoting a shift to low-carbon vehicles and fuels. In the foreword to this strategy, the Prime Minister spelled out his objective that the UK should lead the global shift to the low-carbon economy. Accordingly, we have set targets that within the next decade one in ten new cars sold in the UK will be low carbon vehicles, and that one in five buses will also be low carbon. In the longer-term, we are planning for both hydrogen and biomass fuels to play major roles in a low-carbon transport economy, with benefits also in terms of improved energy diversity and security.

I have enclosed a copy of the Energy Review Consultation Document for Mr ... information.

Malcolm Wicks


Any ideas for a response? There are a lot of holes to pick apart in this one.
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