Oil games

People love crises. Crises give us purpose and grounds us to ensure that we know what to doubt and worry about and serve to remind us to appreciate the norm or what we have become comfortable with. Anything that threatens the norm must first be questioned and if it is not immediately to our self-interest, then we resist.

Oil is a wonderful example of how we love to, if we know it or not, panic about something for very little reason. Let us be realistic, there is simply no way that the oil producers will price something outside of the reach of the bulk of its customers unless there was a lack of supply. Peak oil may or may not be here or around the corner but I doubt this recent rising is a direct result of production pressure.

So, to artificially price your product to the detriment of or out of reach of the customers makes no business sense. Or does it…?

To look at the world through the eyes of the fossil fuel industry right now you would have to think very differently to the bulk of people, their own customers, governments and those with highly publicised commentary. One would have to separate individuals needs, the customers, the policy decisions that effect your product from governments and your own overriding business objectives. In the case of an oil company this would have to mean that you are willing to play with the prices of the product in a game that strikes a balance between these facets but still keeping supply lines flowing and demand ever-growing.

Faced with some huge challenges from the rapid movement of public opinion away from a fossil-fuel world towards “something more sustainable” it would appear that Oil companies would have a lot to loose. Everywhere people are talking green, business is jumping on board and we all want to make ourselves warm and fuzzy by largely tokenistic changes and lip-service. All a positive start but the really tough decisions that we need to take are being deliberately stalled out of a mixture of self-interest and external influence. These tough decisions include reducing fossil fuel dependance to a supplementary part of society rather than the absolute and complete dependance on it for almost everything consumed and moved for most people.

Such is the threat from global warming that carbon taxes (or similar) schemes are being concocted in many countries, some already in place, with varying inclusions and exclusions and some will be very unpopular once enforced. We want them enforced for the sake of our future, but we don’t want to pay for them it seems. As debate rages on in the world about the agony of high petrol prices we are falling victim I fear to a very deliberate and carefully implemented game.

What better way to remind us of our dependance on Oil in particular then to raise the price rapidly right at the critical turning point in public opinions and key government changes around the largest economies of the world. Politicians are forced right now to cower to demands to reduce existing taxes on petrol for the sake of the consumers and exclude petrol from carbon taxes in any current of future schemes.

What a contradictory position we have backed ourselves into. Or perhaps one that has been carefully orchestrated as an interim panic-inspiring measure to effectively kill off the implementation of necessary carbon taxes.

Within six months petrol prices will have dropped off again to levels below what they are now. At this time the panic caused will have dropped taxes on the fuel, warned off policy changes to tax fuel as an emissions source and we will not make the necessary changes in our infrastructure plans or in our minds to wean ourselves off the stuff.

Game set and match to the oil companies. Our children are the losers.

Don’t let it happen.

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