What would happen if the oil stopped flowing?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by Allnightin, Oct 18, 2007.

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  1. I have recently finished reading "Last Light" by Alex Scarrow. It is set in current times with the main plot being that some coordinated terrorist attacks on various important places in the Middle East and strategic global oil production facilities produce a situation where virtually all Western countries are unable to maintain normal life. Transport systems are rapidly shut down, power supplies only last a day or two and water stops coming out of the taps soon after that. In the panic that ensues there are riots in every city, the Police are nowhere to be seen and UK society has completely fallen apart within a very few days. This is partly because it seems that in UK the only reserve stocks of fuel and food are what is in the distribution depots' and petrol stations' tanks or on the supermarket shelves.

    What I wanted to ask is whether this could actually happen here and does anyone know what sort of plans there are to ensure we can still be fed, watered etc if there is an interruption and for how long is this meant to last?
  2. That bit has already happened.

    The greens would be very happy no doubt until they got sod all on their plates.

    It could happen for real as our Governments have only ever had short term policies instead of thinking ahead.
  3. Allnightin..You have just described to a "T" what happenes in my village every day!!!

    (sorry..couldn't help that...note to self: be more serious.)
  4. Certainly terror attacks could have an impact on significant oil supplies, but it is difficult to see how the whole lot could be stopped world wide. Equally the processing is diversified as well so an awful lot of refineries would have to be completely shut down. On top of that all major nations keep strategic reserves of up to 3 months oil and oil products, so there is some time to execute recovery plans. Even in the UK oil is not the only source of electricity generation either and there is also the cross channel connector to France with it's very high nuclear capability.

    On to of that the government has emegency powers to regulate the availability of energy products so most essential services could be maintained and fod distribution maintained and controlled. Life might be tough for a bit but I suspect order would genarally be controlled even if there were a few 'hot' spots.
  5. Is that 3 month reserve actually in tanks kept seperate for the purpose or is it just that if all the storage tanks at the refineries, distribution depots petrol stations etc are topped up it comes to 3 months? If the latter do we have the resources to protect this dispersed reserve?

    Point about French nuclear power and Interconnector looks like something that wasn't taken into account although that is only 1-2 GW I thought?

    Food distribution yes but would food production be secure and is our food reserve essentially what is on the shelves in the supermarkets and the individual manufacturers warehouses?
  6. Not everything would be shut down so fast, I think we would see a rather sharp form of rationing instead, this would stretch out the reserves long enough for jury rigged replacement processes to be put in place, I would also say that's more of a very bad European situation then a Western one..

    The coordination of the terrorists would have to be very refined, and I can't see that happening with the current climate..for it's warts the security measures have been if not improved at least put in the limelight of concern for the average joe's..

    Also I'm sure there are enough coal reserves to keep some generating plants working..
  7. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Stock up on corned dog and herrings-in.
  8. Chippies would close, Northerners would starve and the chavs missus would lose shed loads of weight.
  9. I suppose we would have to follow the advice of that appalling fellow Tebbit and get on our bikes.
  10. The strategic reserve is of little use if it is not controllable centrally, and protectable. So I think you will find it is not kept in a few jerry cans round the back of your local filling station. The real point is the production and processing and storage of oil and gas products is very diverse making it very difficult to turn t all off in one go, in fact it would be very difficult to turn of 10% in one go. Equally as oil and gas represent some 40% of our total power generation capacity a complete loss of that resource would not result in a total black out. Once when I was in India the area I was in had a major power shortage and power was only available 12 hours a day, life went on, equally I remeber the coal strikes and the associated power cuts, we survived and then coal represented almost 80% of our capacity.

    In general the unlikeliness of any organisation being able to mastermind a 100% shut down of oil and gas and maintain that shut down for long enough to deplete the strategic reserves would indicat that the total shutdown scenario is perhaps a trifle far fetched
  11. As I understand it there are contingency plans in place to ration fuel on the basis of need, in the event of the supply being cut off.

    There would be a fairly serious set of knock-on effects, tho, which would multiply the disruption. Gas and electricity consumption would soar, potentially causing more shortages / disruption to those systems. Getting food to supermarkets would become a very real concern, and if that happens that the sh1t really hits the fan. The interconnector from France can only bring a limited amount of electricity into the UK, nothing like enough to make up for a significant shortfall in UK generation.

    Basically things go very bad very quickly. Agree with Maxi that it's highly unlikely, tho.

    Me? I'm off to the shops: going to by some corned beef and a shotgun...
  12. I think the issue would be compounded if several countries had to dip into strategic reserves, although I'd agree that becomes extremely unlikely given the diversity in the global industry. I think that most vulnerable is our food supply, whilst distribution in country could be achieved using the strategic reserve, if others were to reduce or cease supply then the ability to distribute internally becomes slightly academic.

    Clearly the ability of merch vessels to route round areas of scarce supply would mean that food import wouldn't be cut off entirely, but I'd imagine likely transport time increases and significant cost increases.

    However, I'd suggest there are far more credible opportunities to attack.
  13. quote "I have recently finished reading "Last Light" by Alex Scarrow"

    Its a STORY Jackanory Jackanory.

    Possible but who can tell?
  14. What a good idea! When will this happen? Monday morning after nine I take it, can't see it happening before the shops open - teaches you something about self resilience does't it? What would you do? Cry?
  15. Ford and General Motors etc would miraculously develop a car which could run on hydrogen in super fast time, Shell BP Exon etal would change very quickly to renewable energy recharging stations and the game would continue. Oh a few million would cark it, but we could get 'serious' with the real sponsors of terrorism Saudi Arabia!
  16. well Ive bought me a cow,a pig and a couple of chickens, Im all right Jack. Gods got a sick sense of humour giving all that black gold to the most unstable race on the planet. Just think, before the prophet Mohammed raised his head, Persia was the one of the most technological advanced and powerful nations in the world, now look at 'em. Scrimping weapons grade plutonium to wipe Israel off the planet. Sad isnt it that whole nation's being is to destroy another one. Gotta feel sorry for the normal people who actually live in Iran.
    Qucker oil runs out the better, then we can use our technology for a real purpose, and not lining BPs/Shell et al pockers
  17. Yes it's only a story but ask yourself this:

    After events like the handling of Foot and Mouth and the petrol tax protests of 2000, how sure are you that there are adequate plans in place to deal with a major disruption to the supply of the essentials of life?

    Hence my question - what stockpiles are there of things like food. My suspicion is that it is only what is in the production and distribution system. If everyone decided to stock up on tinned stuff at the same time, how long would it last?

    Weeks or days?
  18. A more pleasant eating 'experience' in Mc Donalds?
  19. He sure has but luckily the Sweaty Socks looked the other way whilst the English were draining their North Sea oil reserves. Oil will not run out anytime soon but it does need to price stabilise at around $120 per barrel. :thumright:

  20. wet_blobby

    wet_blobby War Hero Moderator

    The question shouldn't be what's in the distrubution system but who is incharge of distributing it and how.

    In this "fcuk you" society that's an important question.

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