quinta-feira, 4 de setembro de 2008

Petróleo e sociedade

Apesar de o preço do petróleo ter baixado nos mercados internacionais, mantém-se o problema de base relacionado com a escassez deste recurso num futuro muito próximo. Recentemente, as organizações não governamentais ODAC (Oil Depletion Analysis Center) e PCI (Post Carbon Institute) divulgaram mais um importante relatório acerca do pico de extracção de petróleo e suas implicações na nossa sociedade (ver em http://www.odac-info.org/sites/odac.postcarbon.org/files/Preparing_for_Peak_Oil.pdf).
Uma das primeiras páginas deste extenso relatório contém algumas frases emblemáticas acerca da importância deste problema:

“ Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.”
Jeroen van de Veer, CEO of Shell, 22 January 2008
“ Underpinning the long-term price of oil is the fact that the world is
consuming over 30 billion barrels a year and replacing only a fraction of this with new discoveries.”
James W. Buckee, President and CEO of Talisman Energy Inc., 13 March 2007
“ We’re seeing the beginnings of a bidding war for Middle Eastern oil between east and west.”
Dave O’Reilly, CEO of Chevron, 15 February 2008
“ In the longer run, unless we take serious steps to prepare for the day that we can no longer increase production of conventional oil, we are faced with the possibility of a major economic shock – and the political unrest that would ensue.”
Dr. James Schlesinger, former US Energy Secretary, 16 November 2005
“ We should not cling to crude down to the last drop – we should leave oil before it leaves us. That means new approaches must be found soon....The really important thing is that even though we are not yet running out of oil, we are running out of time.”
Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, International Energy Agency, 2 March 2008
“The easy, cheap oil is over. Peak oil is looming.”
Shokri Ghanem, head of Libya’s National Oil Corporation, 8 June 2008

Este relatório começa por definir muito bem o que entende por "peak oil":

What is peak oil?
People often ask when the world’s oil is going to ‘run out’, but this is the wrong question. ‘Peak oil’ refers to the moment at which global oil production will reach its maximum level, and then go into sustained decline. This is expected to happen at the ‘midpoint of depletion’ – when roughly half the oil that will ever be produced has been consumed, and the other half is still underground. This is a pattern which has already been observed in over sixty of the world’s 98 oil producing countries. British oil production peaked in 1999 and daily output has already fallen by well over half. Britain became a net importer of oil in 2006.
Oil production in a given country tends to go into decline at about the halfway point because of falling pressure in the underground reservoirs, and because oil companies usually discover and exploit the largest oil fields first.
Most evidence suggests that this point is now rapidly approaching for the world as a whole.
Many forecasters expect global oil production to peak between now and 2020,and an increasing number expect peak oil to occur within the next five years.
The International Energy Agency has forecast a global oil supply “crunch” from 2012. Some analysts even believe the peak may already have happened, since global oil production has been essentially flat between early 2005 and mid 2008, despite the soaring oil price. The BP Statistical Energy Review stated oil production fell by 0.2% in 2007.
A report commissioned by the US Department of Energy entitled Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation & Risk Management5 makes clear that there is little chance of mitigating the impact of peak oil unless a crash programme is instigated at least a decade before the event. This will require big changes to infrastructure, some of which must be delivered by governments,both national and local.

Qualquer debate sério sobre a crise energética deve ir além das académicas discussões puramente económicas. É urgente dar mais atenção ao aspecto dos recursos, desde a avaliação das reservas, passando pelas dificuldades de extracção e processamento, até à sua comercialização. Além dos fenómenos da especulação sobre os preços da energia, existe uma realidade do lado da extracção dos recursos totalmente desconhecida pela maioria dos cidadãos.

Sem comentários: