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Peak oil - Apr 11

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Rep. Bartlett Discusses Peak Oil At Ohio State Teach-in
(video)
Roscoe Bartlett, Ohio State University via Energy Policy TV
Opening Remarks on OSU Teach-In on Energy, Climate Change, Water, Agriculture and Population

Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) delivers pre-recorded remarks on peak oil, limits of oil supply and production and the history of the understanding of those limits.
(10 April 2008)


Oil: old supply, young demand

Nadim Kawach, Emirates Business 24/7 (United Arab Emirates)
The United States, China and India - which account for nearly a third of the global oil demand - must cut their crude consumption to avert a supply crisis triggered by dwindling reserves, according to a Chinese scholar.

Xiaojie Xu, chief professor at the Institute for Geopolitics and Energy Economists at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said efforts by the three countries to ensure their crude oil needs and meet the rapid growth in domestic demand were only temporary solutions on the grounds supply security is weak.

In a study published in a new book obtained by Emirates Business from the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, Xu said the world was heavily reliant on what he described as ageing oilfields at a time when demand was growing fast, especially in China and India.

“In short, supply is too old and demand is too young,” he said in the research, published along with other oil studies in the 600-page book, The Clash of Age...

According to Xu, most of the giant fields in many major producers have passed their peak plateau and that peak may occur earlier even if advanced technologies of enhanced oil recovery are applied. Citing an oil theory by Mathew Simmons, a US investment banker, he said new technologies could even shorten the life of producing fields instead of extending it due to its effect of lowering existing reservoir pressure.

“Concurrently, the demand for oil and gas continues to grow, largely from the emerging economies in the last decade, and is expected to do so in the decades to come… world demand remains young and presents a huge requirement for new oil sources worldwide by new generations,” Xu said.

... “The US should lead by example and guide the shift from the traditional consumption model to a brave new one that includes renewables, conservation and efficiency - one which China and India have to accept as a core ingredient of action for Plan C. The key content of the future lifestyle is nothing more complicated than less use of finite energy sources.”
(9 April 2008)
Jeffrey J. Brown writes:
This study basically endorses Matt Simmons' work, and Matt is referenced in the article. What is interesting is where it the article was published--in the UAE.


Wither peak oil at Rudd's 2020 Summit?

Michael Lardelli, On Line Opinion
... Australia has elected a nerd with verve to be its new leader. Devoutly Christian, Kevin Rudd is portrayed as "Tin-Tin" by one prominent cartoonist but speaks fluent Mandarin. And he set a cracking pace for his newly-elected federal Labor politicians by insisting they visit homeless shelters before showing their faces in parliament.

One early action that has captured the public's imagination is Rudd's call for a two-day summit in April of 1000 leading Australians to, "… bring together some of the best and brightest brains from across the country to tackle the long term challenges confronting Australia's future - challenges which require long-term responses from the nation beyond the usual three year electoral cycle."

For a person (such as yours truly) concerned with the imminent decline of world oil production ("peak oil") and the inability of Australia's political leadership to openly discuss this issue, Rudd's 2020 Summit seemed like a wonderful opportunity. Peak oil impinges on any topic that could possibly be discussed at the summit. Since cheap and abundant energy (mainly from oil) is what allows our globalised economy to tick along, an imminent decline of oil threatens every aspect of Australia's existence - from provision of health care to the availability of computers and our ability to adapt to climate change.

Of course, Australia's current pattern of settlement is impossible to maintain without cheap oil - it is essential for providing barely affordable food to remote aboriginal communities and for the operation of our car-dependent outer suburbs where young families on lower incomes try to afford record-high mortgages while trying to avoid "travel poverty".

When my university's Vice-Chancellor offered to pay airfare and accommodation costs for any employees accepted as delegates to the Summit I seriously considered applying and so I looked more closely at the Summit details. I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see that, despite the Summit's declared intention, "To provide a forum for free and open public debate in which there are no predetermined right or wrong answers" the framing of the topics was such that the assumptions of economic and population growth were not to be challenged.

... The 1,000 delegates to the 2020 Summit have now been announced and the prospects for honest discussion of peak oil issues seem more remote than even a pessimist like myself could have imagined.

... there is not the faintest mention of the inevitable limitations imposed by declining oil production, even in the background paper which will, presumably, structure the debate.

... Is the exclusion of peak oil a reflection of the ignorance of our political leaders or an intentional decision? One thing we can be certain of is that the Australian Labor Party is keenly aware of the issue. Andrew McNamara, who is currently Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation for the Queensland state Labor government and who headed their Oil Vulnerability Taskforce has been enlightening the rest of the Labor party for years now.

When I asked my local federal Labor member whether she was aware of the peak oil issue she told me how Andrew had been keeping her well informed.

... I believe it is time for peak oil activists to stop waiting for the politicians to openly address this issue. The best way to get the Australian Labor Party to talk energy decline is to force them to - let's get out and demonstrate on the steps of state and federal parliaments and demand to know what their plans are to handle the decline of oil! (And this time we will not accept answers like compact fluorescent lightbulbs, subsidised oil exploration or geothermal electricity that we so often receive in form-letter replies to our correspondence with our parliamentary representatives.) Even just a few people with some media contacts could have a surprising effect - let's try it and see!
(10 April 2008)
Michael Lardelli is an Energy Bulletin contributor. He writes:
I wish I had known that it was 10 members (!!) of ASPO that did not get to go when I wrote the article.

Michael is Senior Lecturer in Genetics
Zebrafish Genetics Laboratory
School of Molecular and Biomedical Science
The University of Adelaide, Australia .

UPDATE: Author Lardelli forwards a comment from Peter Newman, a prominent spokesperson on urban design. Newman writes:
I was hoping to go to the Summit and have been talking about peak oil since 1973. But I didn't make it either. I had a former Premier and a current Minister as my referees. I think we now have a good story to be able to tell about how you can rebuild and extend a successful railway in a
modern Australian city, but there is almost no-one going from Perth and certainly no-one who knows about the train. I cant believe that they would be as clever as conspiring to keep us out and that its just a problem of choosing from a large list. But it doesn't mean we don't let everyone know that their choice of attendees is rather biased.


IMF accepts peak oil ?

Valerie Mercer-Blackman and Lyudmyla Hvozdyk, IMF; World Economic Outlook
Big Gav writes:
The latest World Economic Outlook (pdf - p55 and 56) from the IMF has a brief section that sounds like an acceptance of peak oil being reached - at least in terms of conventional oil.

In addition to slow investment responses, there are two other factors that suggest that capacity growth will be more constrained by geology than in the past.

First, although peak production rates in major fields are attained earlier - because extraction methods have become more efficient - "decline rates" are also higher in major fields. The International Energy Agency suggests that almost two-thirds of the additional gross capacity needed over the next eight years will be required just to replace declines in output from existing fields. ...

Second, oil will increasingly come from unconventional sources, because output has declined from peak levels at conventional fields in many countries, and the size of oil fields is getting smaller on average. This does not mean that the world is about to run out of oil, but it suggests that higher oil prices are needed to induce the additional investment required to balance the market over the medium term."

(10 April 2008)
The section highlighted by Big Gav is part of a larger sub-section entitiled "Box 1.5. Why Hasn’t Oil Supply Responded to Higher Prices?" on pages 53-56.


Yankee Ticket Prices and Fossil Fuels
(PDF)
James Hansen, personal website
The reason that I draw your attention to this practice [remodeling Yankee Stadium so that it will have fewer seats] is that fossil fuel moguls are intent on hoodwinking the entire planet with an analogous scheme.

The basic trick is this: fossil fuel reserves are overstated. Government “energy information” departments parrot industry. Partly because of this disinformation, the major efforts needed to develop energies “beyond fossil fuels” have not been made.

The reality of limited supply forces prices higher. Eventually, sales volume will begin to decline, but fossil fuel moguls will make more money than ever. They will continue to assert that there is plenty more to be found, aiming to keep the suckers (that’s us) on the hook. Indeed, they could find somewhat more in the deep ocean, under national parks, in polar regions, offshore, and in other environmentally sensitive areas. They don’t need much to keep the suckers paying higher and higher prices.

Oil “reserves” suddenly doubled when OPEC decided that production quotas would be proportional to official reserves. These higher reserves are, at least in part, phantom. Coal “reserves” are based on estimates made many decades ago. Closer study shows that extractable coal reserves are vastly overstated, which is consistent with present production difficulties and rising prices. The presumed “200 year” supply of coal in the United States is a myth, but it serves industry moguls well.

Conventional fossil fuel supplies are limited, even if we tear up the Earth to extract every last drop of oil and shard of coal. Tearing up the Earth to get at those last drops, even though Exxon/Mobil proudly advertises that they are drilling to the depths of the ocean and going to the most extreme pristine environments, is, for us, as insane as the smoker who trudged four miles through a raging storm to buy a pack of Camels to feed his nicotine addiction.

It would be possible to find more fossil fuels, and extend our addiction and pollution of the environment, should we be so foolish as to take the path of extracting unconventional fossil fuels such as tar shale and tar sands on a large scale. That choice cannot be left to the discretion of industry moguls. The planet does not belong to them. Basic fossil fuel facts (about reserves) must be combine
(10 April 2008)
List of mailings (essays) by Dr. Hansen.

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