Peak Oil Protocol

In 2013, Peak Oil is not a relevant topic as it was in prior years. This is in large part due both to new ways the fossil fuel industry has developed to obtain once difficult to access resources (ie. fracking) and to global warming taking center stage.  Manifestation of extreme weather events, crossing the 400 ppm barrier, dire warnings from leading global organizations such as the IEA, World Bank, PriceWaterhouseCooper of the shrinking time window for action and the popularization of Unburnable Carbon have all helped to keep climate change in the publics eyes.

Nevertheless, Peak Oil advocates such as Dr. Colin Campbell have developed a protocol to deal with fossil fuels when they run out.

Oil Depletion Protocol ( “Rimini Protocol” or “The Uppsala Protocol.”)

Within our lifetimes, some scientists project that Peak Oil will severely impact our current socio-economic system. Those who will suffer greatest will be those who are living in denial and are not prepared to make major changes in our high energy consuming lifestyle. In this section we look at a variety of proposed technological solutions to see if they really can solve the problem. If it comes down to deep personal sacrifices, it is highly questionable whether anyone living in the developed world is truly ready to reduce their consumption by up to 85%….for that is what is necessary to achieve sustainability.

Dr. Colin Campbell, noted Peak Oil scholar has advocated the global agreement of a Oil Depletion Protocol to prevent shock from Peak Oil:

Oil Depletion Protocol: The Text

As drafted by Dr. Colin J. Campbell*

WHEREAS the passage of history has recorded an increasing pace of change, such that the demand for energy has grown rapidly in parallel with the world population over the past two hundred years since the Industrial Revolution;

WHEREAS the energy supply required by the population has come mainly from coal and petroleum, such resources having been formed but rarely in the geological past and being inevitably subject to depletion;

WHEREAS oil provides ninety percent of transport fuel, is essential to trade, and plays a critical role in the agriculture needed to feed the expanding population;

WHEREAS oil is unevenly distributed on the Planet for well-understood geological reasons, with much being concentrated in five countries bordering the Persian Gulf;

WHEREAS all the major productive provinces of the World have been identified with the help of advanced technology and growing geological knowledge, it being now evident that discovery reached a peak in the 1960s, despite technological progress and a diligent search;

WHEREAS the past peak of discovery inevitably leads to a corresponding peak in production during the first decade of the 21st Century, assuming no radical decline in demand;

WHEREAS the onset of the decline of this critical resource affects all aspects of modern life, such having grave political and geopolitical implications;

WHEREAS it is expedient to plan an orderly transition to the new World environment of reduced energy supply, making early provisions to avoid the waste of energy, stimulate the entry of substitute energies, and extend the life of the remaining oil;

WHEREAS it is desirable to meet the challenges so arising in a co-operative and equitable manner, such to address related climate change concerns, economic and financial stability, and the threats of conflicts for access to critical resources.


A convention of nations shall be called to consider the issue with a view to agreeing an Accord with the following objectives:
• to avoid profiteering from shortage, such that oil prices may remain in reasonable relationship with production cost;
• to allow poor countries to afford their imports;
• to avoid destabilizing financial flows arising from excessive oil prices;
• to encourage consumers to avoid waste;
• to stimulate the development of alternative energies.

Such an Accord shall have the following outline provisions:
• The world and every nation shall aim to reduce oil consumption by at least the world depletion rate.
• No country shall produce oil at above its present depletion rate.
• No country shall import at above the world depletion rate.
• The depletion rate is defined as annual production as a percent of what is left (reserves plus yet-to-find).
• The preceding provisions refer to regular conventional oil—which category excludes heavy oils with cut-off of 17.5 API, deepwater oil with a cut-off of 500 meters, polar oil, gas liquids from gas fields, tar sands, oil shale, oil from coal, biofuels such as ethanol, etc.

Detailed provisions shall cover the definition of the several categories of oil, exemptions and qualifications, and the scientific procedures for the estimation of Depletion Rate.

The signatory countries shall cooperate in providing information on their reserves, allowing full technical audit, such that the Depletion Rate may be accurately determined.

The signatory countries shall have the right to appeal their assessed Depletion Rate in the event of changed circumstances.

*This text, with slight changes in wording, has elsewhere been published as “The Rimini Protocol” and “The Uppsala Protocol.”

Richard Heinberg suggests an exercise to imagine how you would respond if 10%, 20%, 50% then 75% of your Oil supply runs out. Do you have a plan to cope?

  • Modern agriculture is almost completely dependent on Oil for fueling the harvest and transport vehicles, powering the processing plants and creating fertilizers
  • All forms of transportation rely on liquid petroleum products
  • Plastics are all made from oil derivatives


Here are some other points to consider:

  • A low energy lifestyle will be a local lifestyle. What radius can you walk or ride a bike? Is everything you need within that radius?
  • To be practical, school and work may need to be within 1 or 2 km at most
  • If you have children, have you investigated local schools?
  • Can you relocate your current job to do something within a 1 or 2 km radius? Home businesses may boom in the future economy!