Peak oil - June 13
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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Hubbert's Peak, The Question of Coal, and Climate Change
Dave Rutledge, California Institute of Technology
Currently there is a vigorous debate about fossil-fuel production, and whether it will be sufficient in the future. At the same time, there is an intense effort to predict the contribution to future climate change that will result from consuming this fuel. There has been surprisingly little effort to connect these two.
Do we have a fossil-fuel supply problem? Do we have a climate-change problem? Do we have both? Which comes first?
We will see that trends for future fossil-fuel production are less than any of the 40 UN scenarios considered in climate-change assessments. The implication is that producer limitations could provide useful constraints in climate modeling.
We will also see that the time constants for fossil-fuel exhaustion are about an order of magnitude smaller than the time constants for sea level and sea-level change.
This means that to lessen the effects of climate change associated with future fossil-fuel use, reducing ultimate production is more important than slowing it down.
Power-Point Slides (2MB) and Excel Spreadsheet (2MB)
Video from Talk at the University of California at San Diego, May 11, 2007 (Lower resolution on You Tube)
(11 May 2007)
Dave Rutledge is Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science at California Institute of Technology.
See original for links to the various media.
Douglas Low at ODAC writes in ODAC's June 13 newsletter:
Dave Rutledge is an American researcher, based at the California Institute of Technology, whose research suggests that global coal reserves may be less than currently thought. The above link is for Dave's research page which contains a PowerPoint presentation, and roughly the same slides are in the video version which you can watch on YouTube. As an example of a country that got its coal reserves wrong, Dave analyses what happened to the UK coal industry. Dave states:
"There is also a spreadsheet file there with the raw data and extra plots that do not fit in a presentation, together with a link to an archive webcast from a talk I gave at the University of California at San Diego on May 11. I was an undergraduate at Cambridge in the early 70's when the coal miners brought down the Heath government. The critical part of this discussion is the British experience with coal, because it is the outstanding example of a country with major coal reserves that has gone through the complete rise and fall. The American examples for Pennsylvania anthracite and Virginia are much smaller amounts of coal."
Dave sent ODAC a more up-to-date copy of his PowerPoint presentation which will be put on the ODAC Bulletin Board tomorrow.
Douglas Low, Oil Depletion Analysis Centre
1/ Oilwatch Monthly - June 2007 (Rembrandt Koppelaar, The Oildrum & ASPO Netherlands, June 2007)
2/ Ghost Towns Appear in Spain as Decade-Long Boom Ends (Update2) (Bloomberg, Wed 06 Jun)
3a/ Hubbert's Peak, The Question of Coal, and Climate Change (Dave Rutledge, California Institute of Technology, May 2007)
3b/ Carbon Capture Makes US Coal Growth Uncertain (Planet Ark, Tue 05 Jun)
4a/ Ethanol Boom Won't Threaten Food Supply - Analysts (Planet Ark, Tue 05 Jun)
4b/ Rising pork prices in China signal pricier times worldwide (International Herald Tribune, Fri 08 Jun)
4c/ Biofuels blunder - Massive Diversion of U.S. Grain to Fuel Cars is Raising World Food Prices, Risking Political Instability (Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute, Wed 13 Jun)
5/ Economic View: Self-interest will do more to cut carbon emissions than all the low-energy light bulbs in the world (The Independent, Sun 03 Jun)
6/ Milk price soars as drought hits dairy industry (The Times, Mon 11 Jun)
7a/ Report: China considers halting coal-to-oil projects due to energy, expense worries (International Herald Tribune, Sun 10 Jun)
7b/ Coal-to-liquids - an alternative oil supply? (IEA Open Energy Technology Bulletin, Tue 22 May)
8/ Turkey poses a new danger in Iraq (International Herald Tribune, Fri 08 Jun)
9/ Drive on Biofuels Risks Oil Price Surge - Feedback (Financial Times / Dr Mamdouh Salameh, Wed 06 Jun)
(13 June 2007)
Petrol problems about peak oil, not snake oil
Kenneth Davidson, The Age
It's time for Canberra and Spring Street to face the facts on transport.
IF YOU think petrol is expensive at $1.34 a litre, how will you feel if it is around $2.60 a litre without any adjustment for inflation by 2015? That is when Melbourne's third public-private partnership toll road connecting the Eastern Freeway with the western suburbs via tunnel is expected to be completed.
It is not a question that seems to have lodged in the collective brain of politicians in Canberra or Spring Street who want to make political capital out of motorists' perceptions that high prices are due to price-gouging by the oil cartel.
The real reason petrol prices are high is because crude oil is $74 a barrel compared to $35 a barrel in 2004. The price of crude is high because world demand is beginning to outstrip supply. World discovery of oil peaked in 1964 and has been declining ever since. The most likely production scenario is for an annual decline in world production of 2 to 3 per cent, so that world oil production will fall to about 1990 levels by 2020. In Australia, oil production peaked in 2001.
According to the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas: "High prices are the market signal that we urgently need transport and city planning that will reduce our oil dependence. Suggesting that high oil prices are temporary misleads the public and allows governments to delay difficult decisions."
The Victorian political and business establishment is in denial. The case against the east-west link in particular, and increased oil dependence in general, is made in the submission by the Institute for Sensible Transport (IST) to Sir Rod Eddington's inquiry into the tunnel link.
Kenneth Davidson is a senior columnist [at The Age]
(14 June 2007)
Four Takes on Global Oil Demand, Supply and Disruption
Mike Millikin, Green Car Congress
Four major oil- and energy- related reports emerged this week: the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Oil Market Report (OMR); BP's Statistical Review of World Energy 2007; the Short-term Energy Outlook (STEO) from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA); and the EIA's 2007 Outlook for Hurricane Impacts on Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil & Natural Gas Production.
BP's annual report is backward-looking; it provides data and analysis of the consumption and production of the prior year
(12 June 2007)
BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2007: World has enough oil for 40 years
Staff, FinFacts (Ireland)
BP says that the world still has enough proven oil reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates, in spite of a slight fall last year.
The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2007 also shows that global energy use has grown much faster and created more carbon dioxide emissions in the past five years than in the second half of the 1990s, despite the big rise in the prices of oil and natural gas.
The discovery of new reserves has kept the four-decades production buffer steady despite increases in production.
Peter Davies, BP's outgoing Chief Economist, rejects the "peak oil" claims that oil production is already at or near its peak.
"We don't believe there is an absolute resource constraint," he said. "When peak oil comes, it is just as likely to come from consumption peaking, perhaps because of climate change policies or for some other reason, as from production peaking." However, the big oil majors including BP are facing increasing challenges in getting access the oil reserves, with almost two-thirds located in the Middle East.
(12 June 2007)
Related speech just delivered by BP's chief executive: Securing the future - An oil company perspective
Energy news from Australia
Big Gav, Peak Energy
Several stories on nuclear, plus the usual energy headlines with an emphasis on Australia. The post ends with caustic cartoon about US oil dependency.
(13 June 2007)