How Australia will run out of oil by 2020 revisited

31 07 2011

Remember this inconvenient chart of Australia’s oil production?  Well, it looks like Shell believes it’s real too….  they are going to close their Clyde refinery in Sydney.  Is this the start of a rout..?  Time will tell, but I’m sure keeping an eye on this one.

Australia’s failing oil production

Shell to stop refining at Clyde

Updated: 20:38, Wednesday July 27, 2011

Shell has confirmed it will stop refining at its Clyde Refinery and will import petroleum products into Sydney because it can’t compete with Asia’s mega refineries.

Shell announced on Wednesday it will convert the Clyde Refinery and Gore Bay Terminal in Sydney into a fuel import facility by mid-2013.

Now of course, the question is why can’t shell compete with Asia’s mega refineries?  Could it be lack of oil?  Or that perhaps as we start scraping the bottom of the barrel the cost of bringing the dregs to the surface is too costly?  it will be interesting to see just what the other oil majors do next..


I have found more proof we are in deep shit at

According to statistics published by the WA government in April 2011, WA’s crude oil resources including contingencies are depleted by around 75% at end 2010 up from 63% at end 2006. The annual depletion rate is therefore around 3% pa. Crude oil production in 2010 has increased from new fields (Van Gogh, Pyrenees) but the reserve/production ratios in some of these new fields are only 4-5 years. Fields which started in 2004-2008 (Mutineer, Enfield, Styborrow, Vincent) have already peaked and are in decline.

Conclusion: Barring new substantial discoveries, WA’s crude oil has entered its last quarter. As extraction rates in new fields are very high (offshore environment) depletion levels will increase by between 3-4% pa on current trends to reach around 85% – 90% by 2015. This will dramatically worsen Australia’s net oil import balance. Given that global crude oil exports have already peaked in 2005 there is a major oil import crisis ahead. Neither banks – who are still financing new tollway projects like the M2 widening in Sydney – nor the general public have been properly informed about these facts.

The AGA saga

19 07 2011



About fifteen years ago, a very dear friend of mine was murdered by his schizophrenic stepson. A truly talented artist, Richard was English. He loved my home-brewed apple cider, and he owned an AGA. To cut to the chase, I bought it from his widow.

I knew absolutely nothing about AGAs. I had had experience with other combustion stoves, but AGAs, I now realise, are different. Like they’re not supposed to be moved in one piece, they should be dismantled and rebuilt on their new site. But it had been moved to where I first set eyes on it, and in retrospect, I really wonder how they got it down the 40 or so steps that were the only access to Richard’s house. Eventually, a more civilised mode of access was built, and I too moved it in one piece. Three times in fact. Apparently, you can “break the back” of an AGA by doing this…. but I was obviously lucky.

AGAs have been around for over 80 years. They are different from other combustion stoves because they are fully insulated, thus keeping the heat in the stove, which doesn’t make them a great room heater. And unlike their lesser cousins, AGAs have all their innards suspended on rather flimsy bolts screwed into the cast iron base which means that if you do break the stove’s back by moving it one piece, well you have a disaster on your hands.

Over a year ago, we ordered a custom-made stainless steel flue for our cooker.  That’s it just at left of the stove photo, looking all forlorn in the hallway. Yes, it took a whole year to get it, but dare I say it was worth waiting for? It’s almost a work of art, such is the quality of the workmanship. But when I attempted to fit it, I discovered to my horror that the bits the flue went into were corroded and broken.

Trust me, bolts and nuts that haven’t seen the light of day or been undone for fifty or sixty years are solidly fused together. Rust makes a very good weld! Applying heat and penetrating oil for more than three weeks only resulted in the removal of two of the four nuts that hold the top down, and eventually, I had to reluctantly resort to a bit of butchery, drilling the suckers out! Having removed the top, I discovered that a part called the manifold was broken, and the sandwich part that fits between it and the flue was in six bits…. depression set in. I had already been told by a local chap I met who owns FIVE of these AGAs that such problems were not only normal, you could not get parts. His dear wife pointed me to a website where one can actually download a manual, and before you knew it, I had a map of the beast’s innards. It helps to know what’s going on in there…

Excavating the diatomaceous earth out of the cooker almost turned into a Time Team effort.  It’s amazing how much of that insulation powder the stove contains.  Plus, I discovered that mice had got into the beast’s innards, dragging shredded bits of hand written notes and whatever else to make nests.  None of the handwritten notes were our handwriting, so obviously the archaeological evidence had been there for quite some time.

Luckily, I have now found a place in the UK where you CAN buy parts. The owner of the business even rang me from Yoxall for 25 minutes, and was extraordinarily helpful, and I am now confident that I will get Richard’s AGA going again for him. What would we do without the internet?

UPDATE:  The parts are on their way…..  YIPPEE!

UPDATE 2: AGA Saga almost over