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Pulitzer Prize winner suggests world still has plenty of oil

Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers (Buffalo News)
Far from being a nearly exhausted resource, the world’s oil reserves are three times as large as some popular estimates state, and peak global oil production is still about a quarter-century away, according to a new study by Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian Daniel Yergin.

… The Yergin report debunks the so-called Hubbert Peak Oil Theory, first espoused in 1956 by geologist M. King Hubbert.
(15 Nov 2006)
No attempt in this article towards journalistic balance. -AF

Firm: Peak oil theory is bogus

Joe Carroll, Bloomberg News via Philadelphia Inquirer
Global oil production will increase for at least the next 25 years as new drilling and refining techniques make it possible to tap heretofore untouchable reserves, according to the consulting firm Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

The world probably has 3.7 trillion barrels of oil left, more than twice the estimates of geologists and analysts who argue global output is close to a peak, said Peter Jackson, director of oil-industry research for the Cambridge, Mass., firm.

“The peak-oil theory causes confusion and can lead to inappropriate actions and [can] turn attention away from the real issues,” Jackson said in remarks prepared for a conference call yesterday with analysts, investors and reporters. “Oil is too critical to the global economy to allow fear to replace careful analysis about the very real challenges.”
(15 Nov 2006)
This is a bit better, quoting Kjell Aleklett about two thirds in. -AF
…But the headline is pretty bad. Didn’t the editor read the story? (Editors usually write headlines, not the reporters.)

A World Awash in Oil?

Marianne Lavelle, US News & World Report
There was lots of talk about developing alternatives to oil during the recent congressional campaigns.

But what if it turns out to be unnecessary?

That’s the tantalizing proposition offered by a report issued this week by Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which says there may be as much as 3.74 trillion barrels of oil available–more than three times some other widely publicized estimates–and notes that the world hasn’t even reached the point where the supply has peaked.

Why such a huge discrepancy? The answer is that CERA, headed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and oil expert Daniel Yergin, is counting on improvements in technology to bring forth a greater supply from such hard-to-reach oil deposits as those beneath the Canadian tar sands.
(15 Nov 2006)
Lavelle is relatively skeptical of the CERA report, quoting Roscoe Bartlett and Tom Udall. -AF

The article as a whole is good – shows what a little journalistic digging can do. The headline is misleading, unfortunately. -BA

Attempt to discredit theory falls short of making its case

Editorial, Patriot-News (Pennsylvania)
A report from the respected Cambridge Energy Research Associates that seeks to debunk the so-called peak-oil theory has received much attention in energy circles but falls well short of making its case.

The peak-oil theory posits that the worldwide production of conventional oil is nearing the highest level it will ever attain, to be followed by a long decline. This will come as worldwide demand for oil is increasing, thus causing oil prices to rise significantly, with possible shortages occurring.

In addition, peak-oil proponents argue that investments in unconven tional sources of oil, such as Canada’s tar sands, as well as production of biofuels, are not going to be suffi cient to cover the gap in supplies.

… The CERA study uses extremely optimistic projections of conventional oil still to be discovered. It assumes technological leaps will occur to develop unconventional petroleum sources. It does project that a peak will occur, but not for another 25 years or so.

But society cannot wait until a peak occurs to deal with the consequences, not if it wants to transition to other forms of energy without massive economic and social dislocations. Two other fairly recent reports — one done for the Department of Energy and the other for the Army Corps of Engineers — warn that a minimum of 20 years are required to navigate a relatively smooth transition from a petroleum-based economy to one based on other forms of energy.

The peak-oil debate, which has generated a small library of literature, is not nearly so arcane as it might appear. Ultimately, it is about the future of a society that consumes massive amounts of oil as if plenty of oil will always be available.

The peak-oil theory does not claim that we’re about to run out of oil, but rather that we’re about to reach the limit of the world’s ability to produce oil in ever-increasing quantities to meet an ever-expanding appetite for oil.

Even if the optimistic Cambridge study is assumed to be closer to the mark, the challenge to get ready for a world in which oil is no longer cheap is urgent. If the peak-oil theory is closer to the truth, we’ve already wasted too much precious time.
(17 Nov 2006)
UPDATE: Added this item.
Someone in Pennsylvania has been doing their homework. -BA