A reader writes – the history of energy resources and the economy

Dear Hugh

Thanks for this. My own view is that relatively low oil prices, which set the bench mark for all other primary energy sources, was the reason why the world economy was able to expand so fast. Energy prices work their way through to all other prices including salaries. and these then work back onto energy prices.When oil prices increased, this wrecked the whole economic system.

Low oil prices were the reason why the European economy was able to recover so rapidly after WWII. During this period oil began to replace coal as the mainstay of the European economy.It can be argued that one reason for the formation of the EC, was that its economic forerunner, the European Coal and Steel Community, was set up to protect coal mining from cheap oil. (The ECSC failed in its task, the free market philosophy have led to the shutdown of the mines, and a truncated steel industry is now run from India)

After the Oil Embargo of 1973, economic progress in Europe slowed.In a sense we have never recovered from this…..the most indicative statistics of non-recovery are unemployment rates and the number of people in non-productive activities…..(students in particular!).

What saved Europe after 1973 was access to UK and Norwegian North Sea Oil, and the massive exploitation of natural gas. This era is now over, and Europe, especially the UK faces, a very gloomy future. This why I am against CCS for Europe….it will just add to energy costs. EOR is another matter.I am supportive of this but from what learnt at the JRC it is not
as easy as you think….effectively it is almost tertiary recovery of remaining oil.

As the writer of strange but true says, what is now needed is diversion of remaining energy resources into energy conservation and renwables. This should be now, not in 10 years time.

Best regards


One comment on “A reader writes – the history of energy resources and the economy

  1. Well said Fred,
    The sane solution is to expedite renewable energy deployment, extend grids and develop and construct renewable energy storage.
    Enhanced oil recovery runs into the same problem that carbon capture and storage has. They both imply that stored CO2 will never leak. That is about as logical as inflating a set of vehicle tires and expecting them to remain fully inflated forever.
    Remaining fossil fuel resources should not be wasted, just to meet today’s energy demand, they should be left for future generations to make useful materials.
    Regards, Peter Ravine

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