Peak oil - Apr 3
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Peak Oil May Worsen the Climate Crisis
Marianne Lavelle, U.S.News & World Report (journalist's blog)
It's hard to know whether we should be more worried that consuming oil is killing the planet or that there's way too little of this killer oil left.
Joe Romm of Climate Progress has an article that is getting a lot of attention in Salon, called "Peak Oil. Consider it Solved" (subscription required). His argument is that if we do what is required to address climate change—greatly increase fuel efficiency, including a switch to plug-in hybrid vehicles, and find alternative, abundant, and affordable low-carbon fuel sources, we will have slipped out of our chokehold of dependency on a finite fuel source.
At Climate Progress, he summarizes his worry-about-climate-first argument: "The bottom line is that if we solve the climate problem, we will solve the peak oil problem. If we don't solve the climate problem, peak oil will be a somewhat painful, but relatively short blip on the history of humanity compared to the extremely painful, multi-century tragedy our children and the next 50 generations after them will face."
But now comes the response from the peak-oil folks. Dave Cohen at Energy Bulletin argues the world is going to be in the grip of fuel shortages before the solutions that Romm talks about come to fruition. "Many climate activists have tunnel vision that prevents them from appreciating the real oil supply problems we have to solve right now," he writes. "Everything is viewed through the lens of climate change. This view is naive—we're about to get plowed under by the oil market fundamentals."
Although I believe we ought to keep our eye on the long-term climate problem, I fear it's quite likely that the short-term panic over fuel prices will lead us in some unhelpful directions on the environment. This USA Today story, although a couple years old, neatly summarizes how high heating oil prices have the potential to create more wood burning pollution. And not too long ago, we took a close look at the unconventional oil business being spurred by high oil prices and its unsavory implications for climate.
Marianne Lavelle, senior writer for U.S.News & World Report, has covered energy since California's rolling blackouts and the simultaneous rise of two former oilmen to the White House.
(2 April 2008)
Seeking a more stable oil market
Saadallah Al Fathi, Gulf News
... In the long run, there are many factors that will determine the evolution of the oil market. The economic growth rates of recent years are expected to moderate to an average of 3.5-4 per cent due to higher energy prices and the recent problems in the financial markets. However, growth rates in developing countries, particularly China and India, could be more than five per cent.
Current prices have not yet caught the attention of long-term researchers. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) assumes the price in 2030 will be in the range of $50 to $60 a barrel. The International Energy Agency (IEA) assumes the price will reach $62 a barrel by 2030, in constant 2006 dollars. Of course, it is possible for prices to moderate as new capacity comes on stream or if the economic prospects worsen, but the projected levels seem to be low.
... The recent doubts about the resource base may be hyped a little, but they created a perception of shortage as there is no doubt that the world is consuming more oil than it is finding. However, if the peak oil theory is correct, the world will approach peak production sooner than some of us would like and a decline will set in thereafter. There is therefore a need for an intense search and development of new resources, including but not limited to, heavy oil and an improvement in recovery from existing fields.
The writer is the former head of the Energy Studies Department, Opec Secretariat, Vienna.
Special to Gulf News
(3 April 2008)
Peak Oil 101
If Peak Oil pundits are right, it spells the end forever of cheap fuel for internal combustion engine cars. Here's the perspective in one simple and quick read.
Q: What’s Peak Oil?
A: Peak Oil is when we reach the maximum rate of oil production and the demand for oil outstrips the capacity to produce it. There will still be oil, but it will be a scarcer, more precious resource.
... Q: What can we do?
A: First of all talk about it, talk about it, and talk about it! Talk to your friends and work colleagues. Ask politicians what they are doing to address this issue. You can’t solve a problem until you know you have one.
Another step that can be taken is to asses our own oil vulnerability and look at steps to reduce it. This can be done by individuals, communities, businesses or governments. ...
(3 April 2008)
Shell CEO: Easy-to-produce oil, gas to peak in next decade
Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer said Tuesday he expected easy-to-produce oil and gas would likely peak in the next 10 years.
Van der Veer said while depletion of maturing conventional resources would certainly play a key role in peak production, lack of access to remaining large reserves, such as in Saudi Arabia, was also a central component in his forecast.
Remaining resources, such as gas trapped in difficult-to-tap reservoirs or oil sands and shales, will require increasingly costly investments per barrel to produce.
(1 April 2008)
Shell executives have been making public pronouncements like this for the last several months. -BA
Russian March oil output falls again, exports recover
Russia failed to grow its oil output for a third month in a row in March and closed the first quarter with a one percent production decline year-on-year, confirming gloomy outlook by analysts for the whole of 2008.
Energy Ministry data showed on Wednesday March oil production edged down to 9.76 million barrels per day from 9.79 million bpd in February, and well below the post Soviet high of 9.93 million bpd reached in October last year.
In absolute figures, March production was over 5 million barrels - the size of five large tankers - down from October.
Since October, oil production in Russia has been balancing between decline and stagnation, prompting many analysts to revise down their oil production forecasts for 2008.
(2 April 2008)
Commenting on a similar article from Bloomberg, contributor Jeffrey J. Brown (westexas) writes:
On a year over year basis, Russian production is down 1.3%, while exports are down 3.9%. Our mathematical model and the UK and Indonesia case histories show that once an exporting region shows declining production, the resulting net export decline rate tends to accelerate with time.
My comment on TOD this morning goes well with the Russian story:
The US current refinery utilization number is several percentage points below what we have seen at the end of March in prior years. I think that what we are seeing is a partial strike by the refiners. They need: (1) lower crude oil prices and/or (2) higher product prices. ... (more at original)