Planning climate and energy policies

Planning climate and energy policies

Conference reports intends to apply a secondary tax variously referred to as a resources tax or an excess profits tax. The not surprising consequence ...

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Conference reports intends to apply a secondary tax variously referred to as a resources tax or an excess profits tax. The not surprising consequence is that companies (especially those with no existing production) are cautious and nervous and will remain so until this important matter is resolved. It seems clear, at this stage in the exploration for hydrocarbons in Australia, that most prospects tend to be 'gas prone'. This is rather unfortunate for Australia's long-term prospects for energy self-sufficiency - i t is precisely in its very limited crude oil reserves that Australia is most vulnerable. Estimates of existing crude reserves vary between 2.5 and 3 billion bbl. From a probability analysis of 70 geological 'plays' in the Australian region, Exxon has shown that there is only a 50% chance of finding more than a further 3.6 billion bbl. These figures should be compared with the 30-40 billion bbl already discovered in the North Sea oil province. On present evidence it seems inevitable that by 1985 the gap between Australian demand and production of petroleum will amount to more than 50% of crude requirements - a gap that will have to be met by imports from the Middle East. There have been some marginal increases in reserves in the Gippsland Basin, but these do not influence the general conclusion that by 1985 Australia will have to find the foreign exchange to pay for half of its crude oil requirements. This inevitability seems to have scarcely penetrated the official mind. The uranium industry, which must be a major source of foreign exchange to pay for the anticipated shortfall, continues to be plagued with delays, uncertainties, and environmental problems. The main hope for ameliorating this gloomy outlook is the offshore Exmouth Plateau - in the coming season the first wildcat wells will be drilled. The geological play is very similar to the existing oil and gas fields on Barrow Island and the Rankin Trend. However, prospects on the submerged plateau are in water depths of 1000m or more. Even if the initial exploration proves successful, subsequent exploitation and development will be at the very frontier of existing and future technology. In any event, production from this source

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is unlikely to be available before 1990 at the earliest. The consensus of gloom for the Australian petroleum industry was, in some sense, overshadowed by the views on the world energy situation expressed in the Keynote Address by F. Rickwood of British Petroleum. He concluded that it will be the Third World countries that will be the chief sufferers when crude oil becomes

increasingly unavailable by around 1990. These countries will face a further drastic deterioration in their already precarious subsistence economies. The conclusion is inescapable - the only immediate solutions to the world's energy problems are coal and nuclear power. John C. Cameron University of New South Wales Kensington, NSW, Australia

Planning climate and energy policies Conference on Climate and energy, sponsored by the American Meteorological Society, Asheville, North Carolina, USA, 8-12 May 19 78.

Development of national and global energy policies depends critically upon knowledge and understanding of climatic regimes. The intimate relationships between climatological parameters and both power production and demand patterns require coherent energy and climate forecasting policies. The feedback effects of energy use into the local and global weather systems may become increasingly important towards the end of this century. Energy policy makers already contemplating fuel usage in 2025 should also consider changes in climatic features. These were the major conclusions of the recent conference on climate and energy at Asheville, North Carolina. It was generally agreed that the most immediate global problem was the effect upon the climate of increasing levels of carbon dioxide. L. Machta (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) described the rapid increases in CO2 levels which have been monitored worldwide, and discussed tentative policies designed to combat either the increase itself or the climatic effects. S. Schneider of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research underlined that little was understood about the impact of the predicted warming trend upon zonal wind and pressure patterns, and considered the problems of modelling any climatic

change with particular reference to the time and space scales over which effects are identifiable. Further, more localized, effects were identified as aerosol increases and the impact of waste heat disposal. S. Hanna (NOAA) described the problems of predicting the movement of industrial plumes, Which often depends upon very accurate knowledge of local meteorological parameters as well as the particular fuel and plant policy. G.A. McKay, of the Atmospheric Environment Service, Toronto, drew attention to the importance of government encouragement for both conservation and utilization of alternative energy technologies. A. Henderson-Sellers (University of Liverpool) described gas demand patterns in the UK and the effect that climatological variations exert on energy usage. Hans Landsberg, from Resources for the Future, summarizing the general consensus of an open panel discussion session, underlined the desperate need for initiating channels of communication between planners in the fields of energy and climatology.

A. Henderson-Sellers University of Liverpool Liverpool, UK

ENERGY POLICY September 1978