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Ghawar: Water and oil don’t mix

7 Days
Fears that the massive Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia may have passed its prime have been the stuff of speculation for many years. Ghawar has underpinned Saudi Arabia’s dominance of the oil market ever since it came on stream in 1951. With its ability to pump out some five million barrels per day on average, more than half of Saudi Aramco’s total of 9.1 million barrels per day, the slow death of Ghawar may help to ensure that the low oil prices of the 1980s are but a dream for the average consumer.

Don Coxe, an analyst from the Bank of Montreal, once described Ghawar as having passed “Hubbert’s Peak”, a phrase used in honour of geologist M King Hubbert, who predicted oil field decline in the 1950s. The best indication of this is the steadily increased usage of water injection in the wells. Water injection is normally used on older oilfields to maintain pressure within the well and force out more oil. The problem is, once the water reaches the well head, the field has to be abandoned. Many are now pondering the connection between Saudi production and increasing water usage. As Coxe puts it, “Isn’t water flooding [the] Viagra of ageing wells?”
(17 Oct 2006)

Keep your eye on non-opec production

Tom Standing, ASPO-USA Daily Peak Oil News
In his September 5 Commentary, Matthew Simmons astutely observed that over the last 15 years the International Energy Agency (IEA) has consistently projected surges of non-OPEC oil production during fourth quarters. He also observed that in the last 15 years, actual non-OPEC production has increased less than 0.5 million b/d per year.

IEA is projecting similar surges for 2006 and 2007. On page 13 of their Oil Market Report for September 12, 2006 ( a graphic shows non-OPEC production rising by 1.7 million b/d during September-December 2006 after little or no gain earlier in the year. For 2007, IEA shows additional gains of 1.0 million b/d, all of it during September-December.

The trend of non-OPEC oil production is an important barometer that foreshadows the peak of global oil production.

When non-OPEC oil output goes flat with demand and prices high, OPEC fills the gap and shows the world peak oil is nigh.

We can watch the barometer and check IEA’s non-OPEC projections by tracking worldwide oil production statistics published monthly in the Oil and Gas Journal. July statistics appeared in October. By March 2007 we will have non-OPEC production for December, and thereby know exactly how much non-OPEC production has increased. We will report on non-OPEC production every few months to see how close (or far) IEA projections are from actual production.

For now we can report that non-OPEC production of crude oil has languished in the range of 42.5 to 43.1 million b/d since the fourth quarter of 2004 with no discernable trend, although July 2006 established a new high of 43.395 million b/d. In a few months we will see if the non-OPEC sector can build upon that high point.
(18 Oct 2006)

The Y2K Fallacy

Jason Godesky, Anthropik Netork
… In our Dei ex Machinis series, we’ve been evaluating our possible responses to peak oil, and the various candidates that have been suggested as replacements. To date, all have been found wanting in one way or another. It is not clear that there is any alternative to oil—there is no clear course of action. This differs markedly from the Y2K bug. It was simple to see what needed to be done; we geared up and did it. We’re good at that. World War II and the Manhattan Project are also often used as examples of how much we could accomplish in solving peak oil, but again, these were relatively straightforward challenges—all it took was the application of sufficient energy.
(16 Oct 2006)

Major Problems Of Surviving Peak Oil

Norman Church, CounterCurrents
…It is difficult to think about ‘how things will play out’ when an oil-based global economy loses its cheap energy source. It has never happened before. It will never happen again. I think it quite probable that it will start very slowly, may be so slowly that we may not even see it start.

It will take time for civilization to come apart, and the process will be like rolling down a slope, not like falling off a cliff. We will face a future of shortages, economic crises, disintegrating infrastructure, and collapsing public health, probably stretched out over a period of decades.

The notion of holing up in a cabin in the hills with a stockpile of food and firearms is also not a realistic response. A few years of stored food and an assortment of high-tech paramilitary gear are hopelessly inadequate preparations in the face of this reality.

…The last thing to do is to learn as much about primal living as possible. By primal living I mean learning the skills that will allow you to live in a post oil world the indefinitely.

These are the practical ‘survival’ skills. There are many who find even the word ‘survival’ difficult to understand, but survival is what it will come down to but having said that there will be no guarantee that you be among the survivors.

These skills must include (but are not limited to) building shelter, tracking, hunting, fishing, making tools, making fire, making clothes, preparing and using medicinal plants, finding water, and identifying edible plants. If possible you should get some practical experience with all of these, but at the very least you should read as much as you can so that you at least have a chance.
(18 Oct 2006)
I’m not very enthusiastic about survivalism. For one thing, it seems to me to be an intellectual deadend. It’s hard to say anything that hasn’t been said already . The site just about has a trademark on the hard landing argument. For long arguments on survivalism and hard-landing vs soft-landing, see the archives of

The pluses of the survivalism seem to me that:

  • It gives individuals a sense of control over their own future.
  • Many of the skills and practices are good to acquire no matter what happens.

On the other hand, the intellectual frontiers are elsewhere. The debate has shifted beyond survivalism vs communal lifeboats. The picture that seems to be emerging might be summarized as follows:

  • Energy, especially liquid fuels, will be getting more expensive.

  • This has economic and political ramifications. Resource wars are likely.
  • New sources of energy will be sought out. There will be a tremendous drive to exploit them, regardless of EROEI, risk or environmental damage.
  • The big worry is that coal, of which there is an abundance, will be used more extensively and will generate even more greenhouse gases.
  • The challenge is to develop more sustainable ways of life that don’t
    depend on fossil fuels. Efficiency/conservation, population control and culture change are key.