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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
What will we do if we have no oil?
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Business Times, March 4, 2016
 

During the past month, the media expressed wild concerns about the US Fed interest rate changes, the true capitalization of Deutsche Bank in Germany, the slowdown of the Chinese economy, and the International Monetary Fund’s forecast of lower than usual global growth.

In the background, oil prices continued to fall but the market reacted predictably: there is excess supply so the oil price has been marked down in an orderly manner. A meeting of oil producers in Houston, Texas, at end-February could well produce a solution – needed partly because excess supply will soon fill every storage container, and also the budgets of producer nations are in a mess. They were drawn up when oil was over US$110 per barrel rather than today’s US$33; even rich Saudi Arabia lost US$115 billion last year and is considering selling shares in its state oil company, Saudi Aramco.

Fossil fuels were created about 450 million years ago when the world was a very different place. Masses of fallen trees accumulated in chasms and valleys, and fish and other marine life forms died and accumulated on the sea floor and both areas became covered by sediment.

The continents drifted apart on their huge tectonic plates and the sediments became thicker, exerting large pressure on the dead matter, which changed the deposits to coal (from the trees) and oil and natural gas (from the marine life). Sometimes the sediments created impervious caps, trapping oil and gas in high-pressure pockets which, when drilled into, produced spectacular “gushers”. Some oil and gas became tightly fixed in shales and needed special “fracking” treatment to extract the fuels.

Since the industrial revolution, we have used increasing volumes of all fossil fuels and their prices are strongly correlated, though each cannot be substituted easily for the other in the short term.

Geologists can forecast where fossil fuel deposits might occur, but test bores are needed to predict the volumes of fuel. The fields are classified as proved, probable and possible according to their geological, engineering and economic data: it is an uncertain science. Most of the traditional oil and gas fields have been found and exploited, and increasingly, non-traditional sources are being developed such as the shales of the US or the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.

Thus, proven global oil reserves have increased in recent years due to the exploitation of shale oil fields. Perhaps the best known are the Marcellus shales of the eastern US (which can be traced through northern Europe to Poland as they were from the same marine depositions). Their exploitation has added 4 million barrels a day in less than four years, and so have disrupted the market place. Yet, given fossil fuel’s historic formation, no more fossil fuel will be created – so once we have used it, it’s gone. It is not whimsical to ask what might occur if oil is not available.

The International Energy Agency in Paris has said we have used over half of our known, proven reserves of traditional oil – “peak oil” was passed in 2010. Yet today we are using even more oil as it is so cheap – but even shale oil sources are not inexhaustible. Eventually oil will be left underground as exportation will be so costly, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Proven sources off Brazil or in the Arctic are being left untouched for the moment as they are deemed unprofitable.

In December 2015, the world’s nations agreed in Paris to reduce their national pollution profile and ratify a new “Kyoto II Protocol” by 2020 which would be legally binding over 15 years. All nations ought to be investing in non-polluting sources of electricity, but with the cheapness and abundance of coal, and the glut of oil and indeed natural gas, there is little incentive to invest in research and development of renewable sources.

It is a fraught issue as all global trade is powered by oil – in trucks, ships and airplanes. Interwoven globalisation cannot stop overnight but as oil becomes more costly, we must question if global trade can continue.

It seems to me that an initial solution would be to create an interconnected national, regional and then global smart electricity grid. Through this we could market electrical power – switching power from the deepening night in the East to the dawn in the West; and from the warmer, equatorial regions to the cold, northerly regions. The grid would capture all sources of electrical power – from traditional fossil fuels and from nuclear generation and from the renewable sources of wind and water power, as well as sunlight.

As we move away from polluting fossil fuels, we must capture more renewables and find ways in which electricity may be stored in sensible quantities as the present methods are ineffective and costly.

The creation of a global grid, while quite simple technically, is a huge political task. But market forces will act rapidly to a diminishing availability of oil – initially, prices will rapidly increase but new oil will still be left underground as few can afford to buy it. Then globalization will collapse and we might all starve! Better to discuss and find ways now to avert catastrophe rather than search for ways to boost the coffers of oil producers.

 

The writer is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community. Horasis will host the inaugural Horasis Global Meeting in Liverpool on June 13-14. The Future of Energy is one of the main discussion topics of the event.

 


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