Monday, June 18, 2007

When the Black Gold Runs Out!

There was an interesting documentary on CNN several days ago, focusing on the worlds dependency on oil and petroleum energy and the consequences of an energy crisis. In this documentary they unfolded a hypothetical scenario set in year 2009, which leads to an energy crisis all over the world.

It all starts with a big hurricane hitting the American Oil country, Houston Texas. It causes severe damages throughout the city, worse than hurricane Katrina. Among the damaged are the big oil refineries which supply oil to America. This results in a total standstill in domestic oil production in USA, causing a shortage of gas.

Meanwhile Al Qaeda is planning the next big attack and knows that the best time to make the most damage is when America is already down. However they do not attack America directly, but hit the next best target that could virtually cripple the entire oil supply. They hijack a plane and crash it into the biggest oil refinery in Saudi Arabia, the worlds #1 supplier. All hell breaks loose from then onwards. It cripples the worlds oil supply, prices sky rocket and the world is plunged in to an energy war, where countries attack each other to get whatever oil they can.

Even though this is all an imaginary situation, it could be real. The world has too much dependency on fossil fuel energy. There may not be natural disasters, or terrorist may not attack, but oil is not a limitless resource. Oil companies are trying to find new untapped oil reservoirs, but it’s getting harder and harder to find. A day will come when it will run out. The problem is, even though the supply is going down the demand for it is increasing day by day.

There are a lot of people and environmental organizations working to change the situation, but what they can do is limited. This is mainly because world governments are lagging behind in giving their backing to these projects. The business of oil is too lucrative for them to give up.

Among the people who have taken up the cause is Sir Richard Branson. Recently he put up a US$ 25 million reward for a solution towards global warming. In addition to investing in ethanol plants and solar power, he has also started a new Venture called Virgin Fuel, to develop a formula for an ultra clean fuel that can power his airlines and vehicles. Other notable people like former US president Bill Clinton and Vice president Al Gore, Celebrities like Bono are trying to make a change in the world.

One of the best success stories about alternative fuel comes from, not the big powerhouses, but from Brazil. They have developed a successful system for developing ethanol fuel from sugar cane, the same stuff that put tingles in our sweet tooth. About half of the vehicles over there are now running on this sugar cane ethanol. They are known as flex-fuel cars, which can run on pure ethanol or an ethanol and gas combination. The best thing is that it’s cheaper than gas. The major automobile manufacturers are also investing more money for R & D into hybrid vehicles now.

So there are a lot of viable alternative fuels available, what’s needed is the imitative and the leadership from the world’s leaders.

The problem becomes more difficult when it comes to developing countries like SL. We just don’t have the resources to spend on research and development on these matters. Of course if we put an end to all corruption, we’d have enough left over, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. However with the way the oil prices are going up here, we definitely need a new plan if we’re to keep things rolling on, otherwise we’ll probably face an energy crisis before long.

One option I see is to start a partnership with the Brazilians and set up sugar cane ethanol refineries here. This will open up new job opportunities to the people. Another benefit is that it can also help revive the sugar cane industry, which is now in ruins. Along with that we can allow incentives such as tax exemptions for hybrid cars that use ethanol. Maybe even our very own Micro cars can start building hybrids. These in turn can lead to opening up new markets in the South Asian region. All in all, it’s a win-win situation.

1 comment:

Lady divine said...

Sure is a scary situation.. The entire world is totally dependant on oil and it is high time we came up with alternative solutions..

You seem to've given this quite some thought.. With the kind of president and ministers we've got, do you think there's even room for the word "Development"? I highly doubt it...

Sad to say but the world is eventually coming to an end.. Just that we don't know how soon...

Very thoughtful and informative post I'd say!