Friday, December 01, 2006

When the oil starts to run out....

I posted earlier in the month about expecting to hear a presentation on the subject of Peak Oil i.e. what happens when oil production passes its peak. One expert thinks it could be as soon as 2008, and forecasts major, negative econmic impact. His presentation has been uploaded on to a page on the Chelmsford Lib Dem website.


At 01 December, 2006 12:48, Blogger Tristan said...

I find Peak Oil Theory to be very very suspect.
It ignores advance in technology (extracting difficult to get to oil cheaply or converting shale to oil cheaply for example), and assumes that oil production will slow dramatically. I doubt it will.

We've heard such calls at least 4 times previously, ranging from post-WWI to the 70s.

Its a theory, but I don't think it is likely to occur, a plateau is far more likely, with some ups and downs, but no dramatic shock.

It all stinks of doom-mongering, like the predictions of mass starvation in the 60s.

At 01 December, 2006 15:19, Blogger Edis said...

Tristan, the concept of Peak Oil is not that we run out of oil suddenly but that we run out of cheap oil.

See the argumenth on the 'Oldrum' page for some statements of the actual Peak Oil position which is NOT the same as the old 'Limits To Growth' doom messages of the 1970's.

The link below (from the Oildrum page) has an interesting graphic of world oil production and the Peak argument.

At 04 December, 2006 17:41, Blogger Stephen R said...

The author of the presentation, Frank Davis, has asked me to post the following comment:-

"The main thrust of my presentation is that oil is a finite resource. We currently use between 4 and 6 times as much as we discover in any single year and demand is increasing.

Yes, there will be more discoveries and yes, new technology will allow extraction from more extreme environments and from older fields, but with the majority of producing countries already past peak we must reduce demand for fossil fuels.

The Oil shales or sands are expected to produce the equivalent of 4 million barrels of oil per day at peak production. We currently use over 80 million barrels a day.

The shale has to be mined and the oil removed generally by steaming it from the ore. Both processes use a lot of energy and it's not clear if the net energy, i.e. the amount you receive after using some up in extraction is enough to make the sands economically valuable.

In the 1930's the EROEI (energy recovered vs. energy invested) of oil in Texas was close to 100. Tar sand extraction has an EROEI of 1.5.
True, there have been forecasts of peak oil in the past and they turned out not to be valid. However all finite resources must peak eventually and we should prepare to meet the challenges that peak oil will pose."


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