Photo via Cleantech
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporting country, has just issued a warning against a "premature shift" to renewable energy. In related news, bottled water companies have issued a warning against a "premature shift" to tap water, and tobacco companies have warned against a "premature shift" to quitting smoking. Seriously, though—Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister gave a speech at the Energy Pact Conference saying that oil, natural gas, and coal must remain the energy "workhorses" for many decades to come—and that investing in alternative energy too early could lower levels of investment in fossil fuels and ruin the global energy economy. Hm.And all this despite the fact that the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia, which happen to be the largest in the world, will last only another 80 years if current production rates hold. According to Bloomberg, the Oil Minister said: "The days of easy oil may be over, the days of oil as a primary source for the people of the world are far from over."
Well, if the country with the biggest supply of oil in the world says we have to keep on buying oil, I guess we've got to take their word for it.
Switching too early to "slowly evolving" alternative fuels risks lowering levels of investment in fossil fuels and increasing market speculation on oil prices, [the Oil Minister] said. "The consequences can be deeply counter-productive to global energy security."
Some saying about looking out for number one comes to mind. Of course he's right—to an extent. As much as we'd like, there's not going to be any massive shift to renewable energy that will swiftly sweep the globe. Integrating and developing alternative energy technologies into the global energy economy will be a slow, painful process to be sure. But maintaining a governing attitude that oil dependence is necessary for "many decades to come"—and all but ignoring the fact that global oil has peaked--is hugely counter-productive to effectively pursuing alternative energy solutions.
Unless you happen to own the world's largest supply of oil.