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Peak oil - May 8

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

The Future for Petroleum - a prescient view from 1964
Anthony Francis Fox, The World of Oil (via UBC website)
...At present there is no reason to expect any interruption in the rate of increase in energy consumption in the world. The total population is increasing and every country is industrialising as fast as its available capital resources permit. Nevertheless, a natural mineral deposit like petroleum must be finite in size and will be exhausted at some time. Can we make any reasonable estimate of when this is likely to be?

...therefore, it seems as though the maximum use of petroluem as a source of energy will rise to a maximum of between 26 and 37 x 10**9 bbl. per year in the years 1990-2000 and thereafter there will be a rapid falling off in oil production until by the year 2100 the amount produced each year will be about equal to what was produced in 1915. This means, of course, that from about 1980 onwards other ways of producing energy must replace petroleum if our civilization is to continue on its present path.
...If we have to look forward to a decrease in the volume of oil produced from world sources after 2000, the motor-car as we know it today will by then have passed its heyday. Fuel for it can be expected to become a good deal more expensivve, unless some alternative can be found and the family outing by motor-car at the week-end may be as much a luxury to our grandchildren as uncrowded roads are to us today.

... let us look for a moment at the possible errors in the assumptions we have made and flaws in the reasoning from them.
...Possible Undiscovered Sources of Petroleum
...New Methods in Exploration
...Secondary Recovery
Submitteer RM writes:

A marvellous article of historical interest to Peak Oilers.. [It appears in the book] The World of Oil, written by an A.F. Fox, Head of the Geological and Geophysical Division of the Kuwait Oil Company.

What caught my eye was the projected peak of crude Oil production (Fig 64). Although Mr. Fox cites Hubbert's many contributions throughout his textbook, he seems unaware of Hubbert's predictions with respect to peaking-so this appears to be an independent assessment. He makes a best guess of a peak of some 26 Gb/y around the year 2000. Not bad!

This was made in the early 1960's, as he states "no forecast can hope to come close to the truth through the mists of 40 years..."

He also discusses the estimate of Ultimate Recoverable Reserves (1500 Gb), enhanced oil recovery, the Athabasca Tar Sands of Alberta, and even mentions the fuel cell!

Who has to conserve how much?

Stuart Staniford, The Oil Drum
In influential posts over at Graphoilogy, Khebab and WesTexas argued that the four largest oil exporters were more than half way through their eventual production, and that since their internal consumption was bound to increase, therefore the amount of oil available for export was certain to plummet. WesTexas has been making increasingly dire warnings about lack of export capacity ever since.

I don't 100% agree with this way of looking at things, though it's a piece of the truth. The part I agree with is that net oil exporters are going to have their economies helped by high oil prices, and that might lead to some increase (or at least reduced decrease) in oil uage relative to everyone else. However, I think just assuming that consumption in exporting countries will increase in line with their historical GDP growth or population growth, and only what is left over after internal consumption gets exported, strikes me as probably a bit simplistic.

I think firstly we can divide oil exporters into two groups. In countries like Norway and Canada, oil is not internally subsidized, and consumers will face the same price incentives as consumers elsewhere. High gasoline prices will have Canadians and Norwegians conserving just like Americans or Germans. In countries like Kuwait or Venezuela, internal oil usage is heavily subsidized. However, even here I expect economics will have some potent effects. The more the differential between the internal price and the external price, the more powerful will be the incentives to find a way to export more and consume less internally. This will lead to political pressure from the national oil companies, and their political patrons, to export more. If that doesn't work, it will lead to corruption and smuggling of oil. The oil will start to leak out of those exporting countries one way or another. I think these economic effects will tend to limit, though not eliminate, the degree to which exporting country consumers will feel able to increase their consumption while the rest of the world is being forced to conserve like crazy.

...absent major oil shocks, the conservation required in the next few years should be relatively modest and manageable percentages. Of course, the risk of major oil shocks seems to get worse by the day, so who really knows?
(5 May 2006)

King Coal (and Mark Jaccard)

(original title: "Fuels in Question")
Ben Parfitt, Georgia Straight
...Surely fossil fuels can be phased out, replaced by environmentally “benign” renewable energy sources like solar, tidal, and wind power... Although these and other sources may be increasingly important in a global energy system lurching toward perhaps a quadrupling of its size this century, it is the stuff of dreams, if not irresponsible, argues Simon Fraser University economist Mark Jaccard, to dismiss fossil fuels from future energy scenarios. Contrary to contemporary warnings of rapidly dwindling fossil-fuel reserves, Jaccard says, there’s lots out there, particularly coal. The big question is: can it play an important role in a growing and diversified global energy system without wreaking further climatic havoc?

...In The End OF Oil, one of many recent books to sound the alarm over a coming energy crunch, author Paul Roberts offers a host of statistics. The more sobering of them forecasts just how much more rapidly our burning of fossil fuels could increase in the years immediately ahead despite all the warnings about what that implies for our rapidly warming planet. China, in particular, is poised for mind-boggling increases in coal use, particularly thermal coal to generate electricity.

...What makes reading Roberts so disquieting, however, is that he sees no easy way out as the world’s population continues mushrooming.

...Mark Jaccard ... takes exception to the suggestion that we can’t make do with the energy sources we are already more than familiar with. “The technologies are there. The energy is there. We don’t need to talk science fiction here,” Jaccard says between signing copies of his new book Sustainable Fossil Fuels: The Unusual Suspect in the Quest for Clean and Enduring Energy, which on April 27 won the prestigious Donner Prize, awarded to the best book on Canadian public policy.

More than one person has done a double take at that title. The words fossil fuels and sustainable in the same sentence, let alone a phrase, seem oxymoronic.

...Jaccard’s take on energy sustainability is that energy sources should endure for long periods of time, although not necessarily forever, and be clean. Moreover, we need to think about how an expanded energy system, including fossil fuels, can help improve human health and well-being.
(5 May 2006)
Long piece on coal and the difficult-to-categorize ideas of Mark Jaccard.

Atlanta after the end of oil
Stephen Sweny and Michael Wall, Creative Loafing (Atlanta alternative newspaper)
Adam, accompanied by his best friend Gabriel, journeys from Marietta to downtown Atlanta because he has to register for the draft and undergo a physical, which is required for every male on their 16th birthday in the year 2012. The only problem is, the world is almost out of oil.
(2 December 2004)

I've got a little list of gas - price villains

Erik Curren, Augusta Free Press
here's a lot of talk these days about who to blame for $3-a-gallon gas. It reminds me of a spirited tune from the world's favorite Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, The Mikado, sung by Koko, the Lord High Executioner:
As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list - I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed - who never would be missed!

So, with apologies to G&S, I've made my own list of the usual suspects for high gas prices:

1. Oil Company Execs (aka Darth Vaders) ...
2. Wall Street High Rollers ...
3. Tree Huggers ...
4. Foreigners, Supply Dept. ...
5. Foreigners, Demand Dept. ...

The Real Villain: Peak Oil

Well, that sure is a nice little list of villains. But here's where comedy becomes tragedy - we could cut off all their heads, and gas prices would still go up. At least, that's if you listen to petroleum geologists, instead of politicians pandering for votes.

...But if America wants to avoid economic ruin, it's time to bring down the curtain on this tired performance. Yes, we should watch for and punish price gouging. But that's just a sideshow. In the main act, we need to focus on the real problem and find real solutions.

Cheap oil is running out. And we need to plan for a post-oil future now, by conserving energy and finding alternatives before our time runs out too. That's the little list we all should write.
(1 May 2006)

Summary of Petro Collapse II conference in DC

1truthteller, Daily Kos
Earlier today about 100 concerned citizens gathered at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC for the second Petrocollapse Conference on surviving in a world with declining fossil fuel resources.

The event was sponsored by Jan Lundberg's organization,, he of the Lundberg Oil Survey Letter family, although not involved with that publication since the late 1980's. Nine speakers and two videos were on the program. They dealt with a variety of topics related to our current energy, environmental, and related political issues.

Dr. John Darnell is energy advisor to Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, MD-6th, the only member of Congress who is talking about peak oil and the realities of our dismal energy future. He compared our current energy situation to the Apollo 13 near-disaster of 1970, when that Moon mission suffered a catastrophic explosion and only made it back to Earth safely through training, cooperation, conservation of remaining energy, and innovative thinking on the fly. He called for a similar emergency crash effort to deal with declining fossil fuel resources and the need to move to a sustainable society, both in the short and long-terms.

Several themes recurred among various speakers. Micheal Kane of "" warned of the big lie of Big Renewables, and the political snake oil sales people pushing them. Mark Robinowitz of "" also warned of malicious politicians guiding the World to a "Last man standing" scenario in a global struggle for the World's remaining oil reserves while defrauding voters at home in electonically rigged elections, while Jan Lundberg said that if our leaders won't tell citizens the truth, then it's up to us to spread the word. Conference moderator Jenna Orkin, whose child was a high school student four blocks from the WTC on 9/11, added that most Congressional staffers are totally in the dark about our energy problems, and that most people in this Country can't comprehend the coming crisis because they have no reference point for anything this dire in their memory or that of anyone they know.

(7 May 2006, hat-tip toLeanan at

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