Maj. Gen. S. C. N. Jatar, Retd
The major energy security concern
that the new UPA government will face is ensuring secure supply of oil and
gas. As ‘Peak Oil’ is looming large over
the world, there is need to develop alternate sources of energy. The government has already signed a nuclear
The Nuclear Deal
Our planners need to appreciate that nuclear energy cannot wholly replace oil & gas, especially for transportation needs. There is no economically viable fluid substitute on the horizon for crude oil so far.
What is ‘Peak Oil’?
“Peaking will strike the world. No one knows when.”
Hence, both from short and long term points of view, the most important issue for the government is to draw up a plan to combat the effects of ‘Peak Oil’. This should be done by research & development for alternative sources of energy in the short term and more importantly, by preparing for the time when ‘Peak Oil’ strikes in the long term.
‘Peak Oil’, the day when oil production reaches its maximum and begins a decline is fast approaching. Problem Day is the day when demand permanently exceeds supply, resulting in a sharp and lasting rise in prices to suppress that demand, which is likely by 2010.
In 2004, when the UPA first took the reigns, oil prices were about the same as now (US $ 60/bbl). In its second reign, supply position has further eased because of the recession and the world does not presently face acutely the shortage of supply. This has given a feeling of complacency to our planners. Mitigating the effects of ‘Peak Oil’ requires long-term solutions and perhaps there is no better time than now to begin these efforts. Global recession has halted investment in exploration and energy projects, which could result in reaching the record prices of July 2008 once the world recovers from economic crisis. 
Peak oil presents the world with a risk management problem of tremendous complexity and enormity. Prudent risk minimization requires the implementation of mitigation measures roughly 20 years before peaking to avoid a very damaging world liquid fuels shortfall and minimising economic costs. Since it is uncertain when peaking will occur or whether it will be due to geological or investment limitations, the challenge is indeed vexing. Mitigation basically involves changing the life style of the human race because we are truly a ‘hydrocarbon society’. It embraces a wide range of actions such as, replacing all machinery, including for transportation, that presently run on petroleum; improving energy efficiency technologies; developing hybrids (e.g. diesel-hybrids); improving oil recovery; researching in production of unconventional oil, e.g. hydrates, heavy oil, bitumen, oil sands, and tar sands; improving gas-to-oil technology; fuel switching to electricity; and using ‘hydrogen’.
Extending useful life of remaining oil reserves
It is not mere fascination with “peak oil”; another critical aspect to the world economy is to secure access to inexpensive and suitable fuel from any source to power its current fleet of passenger vehicles, load carriers, and aircraft.
Efforts to manufacture additives for blending into petrol and diesel are in full swing to extend the useful life of the world's remaining oil reserves.
Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI)
In order to decide whether
our efforts to use renewable energy sources as additives to oil are viable, it
is useful to understand the concept of EROEI.
The most common additive in
The Indian government is promoting rapid expansion of a biodiesel crop, jatropha: by 2012 some 14 million hectares are to be planted on what it has classified as “wasteland”  but reports are already coming in of farmers being dispossessed of fertile land by companies wanting to grow jatropha.  All of this amounts to nothing less that the re-introduction of the colonial plantation economy, redesigned to function under the rules of the modern neo-liberal, globalised world.
Environmentalists have warned
against biofuels, saying they could produce twice the carbon emissions of the
fossil fuels they replace, environmentalists have claimed.
Friends of the Earth said rules
introduced a year ago requiring a percentage of
Supporters claimed that in
the 1st year of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, the
industry had shown it was possible to produce sustainable fuels in the
Long-term Studies & Action Plan to Combat Looming ‘Peak Oil’
Substitution outside Transportation
Sector: According to studies in
Substitute for Liquid Hydrocarbons:
Transportation uses liquid hydrocarbons to the extent of a high of about 70 %
 Miller, Richard G, “Question regarding
Rowena, “Oil will hit peak after recession”, Telegraph.co.uk,
 Hirsch, Robert L., Senior Energy
Program Advisor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC),
“Peaking of world oil production – recent forecasts”.
 Hirsch, Robert L., Senior Energy Program Advisor, SAIC, “Peaking of world oil production, Impacts, Mitigation & Risk Management”
 “Biofuels could pollute more”, The