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6.15.2011

UK ministers ignored 'peak oil' warnings, report shows

Source: The Guardian (UK) June 15, 2011

The government was warned by its own civil servants two years ago that there could be "significant negative economic consequences" to the UK posed by near-term "peak oil" energy shortages.

Ministers were told it was impossible to know exactly when production might fail to meet supply but when it did there could be global consequences, including "civil unrest."

Yet ministers consistently played down the threat with the contemporaneous Wicks Review into energy security (pdf) effectively dismissing peak oil as alarmist and irrelevant.

The report on the risks and impacts of a potential future decline in oil production has just been published – but only after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) was repeatedly threatened under the Freedom of Information Act with forced disclosure.

The information is revealed at a critical time when oil prices have soared to historic highs of around $115 (£71) a barrel hitting motorists through higher petrol costs and helping to drive up household gas bills. The price of oil and gas tend to be linked due under the terms of many wholesale gas contracts.

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