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How to cope in an oil crisis: Imperial researcher provides emergency 'toolbox' for energy ministers

18 May 2005
By Laura Gallagher

An emergency 'toolbox' to help countries cope in an oil crisis is published this month in a new book. Saving Oil in a Hurry, based on a report by Imperial academic Dr Bob Noland, offers a range of methods to reduce oil consumption at short notice, from reducing motorway speed limits to having drivers take time off from driving on alternate days.

Cover of the book

Ways of quickly reducing oil consumption during a fuel crisis are the main focus of the book. Dr Noland, from the Centre for Transport Studies in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, analyses various road transport measures for the best quick fixes if there were a major disruption to the oil supply today.

Helping consumption to fall just a few percent would have 'a significant dampening effect' on world oil prices if supplies were constrained, says Dr Noland, in addition to minimising the impact of any supply disruption.

Over one million barrels of oil would be saved per day, he calculates, if an odd/even licence plate scheme were introduced across all IEA countries, including the UK, Japan, Australia and the United States. Under the scheme only drivers with odd licence plate numbers would be allowed to drive one day and only those with even numbers the next.

Mandating that motorways only allow carpooling would generate a similar level of savings, estimates Dr Noland.

And over five hundred thousand barrels of oil would be saved per day if all public transport were free during the crisis.

If drivers became 'eco-drivers', adopting efficient driving styles and maintaining their vehicles in an eco-friendly way, the same amount of oil would be saved, he calculates.

For these measures to work, governments need to mount intensive public information campaigns, suggests Dr Noland.

He said: "Pre-planning is essential to ensure that measures to reduce the oil consumption of transport succeed in an emergency. Governments must be ready to implement measures on very short notice. It is very important that the public have clear information and are aware of how any plans will work."

Dr Noland wrote the report that formed the book for the International Energy Agency (IEA), and this month Energy ministers from the 26 industrialised countries in the IEA discussed the book's recommendations when they met in Paris. Saving Oil in a Hurry was published on 28 April 2005.


For further information please contact:

Laura Gallagher
Press Officer
Communications Department
Imperial College London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6702
Mobile: +44 (0) 7803 886 248