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ASPO Newsletter 89 – May 2008 issue
Dr Colin Campbell, Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas Ireland


1033. China Assessment Revised
1034. ASPO-7 International Conference
1035. Correction: Item 1029
1036. Power Cut
1037. A Call for a return to the Rail System
1038. An oil company tranquiliser
1039. A Matter of Time
1040. Revision of Depletion Model
1041 Saudi Arabia worries about the impact of Renewable Energy
1042. Words of Wisdom from Bolivia
1043. Does Britain face the onset of the Second Great Depression?

… 1040. Revision of Depletion Model

The Depletion Model, used herein, is subject to continual revision as new information, however unreliable, and insight come in. It does not pretend to offer a definitive picture but rather an evolving approximation. Nevertheless, despite the uncertainties of detail, the overall pattern can be presented with some confidence.

This revision (see table and graph on Page 2) is based on an update of the deepwater situation, revising the previous version made in 2005. The model considers the four main deepwater countries (Angola, Brasil, Nigeria and USA) and lumps the remainder together. The previous version came to a total ultimate production of 68 Gb, which has been increased to 85 Gb. The earlier model was based on Hubbert depletion profiles, but this has been abandoned in better recognition that the rate of deepwater production is likely to be constrained by the capacity of floating production facilities delivering more of a plateau than a peak. Deepwater oil is very costly to produce, and investment limits are a constraint.

The new deepwater model has the effect of advancing the date of the overall peak of all liquids from 2010 to 2007, and is actually good news insofar as the lower and sooner the peak, the gentler the subsequent decline. The precise date is of no particular significance since it is not a high isolated peak, being no more than the maximum of a fairly gentle curve. But if correct, it might carry a certain psychological impact to recognise that the Second Half of the Oil Age has begun. Certainly this is consistent with the current world financial crisis, soaring oil and food prices, deepening recession, and consequential riots and political tensions in many countries. New military threats are being made against Iran, as the consumers become increasingly desperate for access to oil supply, much of which lies in the Middle East.

Mr Malthus must be turning in his grave.

… ASPO started as a European network of scientists and others, having an interest in determining the date and impact of the peak and decline of the world’s production of oil and gas, due to resource constraints. Now, associates are active in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA, and Venezuela.
(May 2008)

Irish PO documentary and its reception
George Lee, ASPO-Ireland
The ASPO-Ireland website has a YouTube of a sobering address by George Lee, chief economics correspondence for the Irish network RTÉ. Lee learned about peak oil recently, and shortly afterward took part in an Irish documentary on peak oil: “Future Shock: End of the Oil Age.”

In his talk, he reported on the pushback and ridicule he received for the film both from economists and the general public. He encouraged the ASPO audience to communicate the message beyond the inner circle of peak oil devotees.

The documentary can be seen online: Future Shock: End of the Oil Age (RTÉ Television)
TOD discussion

(One commenter noticed that the Ireland-specific information starts at 40 minutes into the film, and is the most interesting to PO-aware viewers. The content in the earlier part is a standard treatment of peak oil in general.)

(May 2008)

Big Oil Strike in Brazil has Tongues Wagging, but We Continue Towards Peak Oil

Pedro Prieto, Tlaxcala via AlterNet
The world press, especially the Western press and specifically the financial press, has jumped all over the headlines of the discovery of a huge oil field in Brazil’s continental shelf.

It’s a concession within a series of blocks or zones earmarked for exploration, over which very little technical data has been offered and which apparently involve the Brazilian company Petrobrás, the Spanish company Repsol-YPF and the British concern, British Gas. The press in each country involved (an involvement created when the head offices of these enormous multinational firms are in a certain country and have close links with political power in their country of residence) has exulted in the discoveries, as something truly impressive. So much so, that stock markets have experienced significant fluctuations.

Naturally, if verified, it would be the greatest discovery in several decades and would skew, to a certain extent, the observed tendency toward a steady but inexorable decline in the volume of the world’s discovered petroleum, while worldwide consumption continues its relentless increase.

… To put the figures in their proper context, something that the financial press tends to blur at its convenience, the maximum supposed quantity of the discovery in Block BM-S-9, known as Carioca, 2,000 meters under the Atlantic Ocean, would represent one year’s worldwide consumption of petroleum, well above the 30 billion barrels. This is more or less the result when the 85 million barrels produced as a daily average are multiplied over 365 days.

Also, to clarify the importance of the oil discoveries, certain characteristics must be considered that are not always emphasized by the press, but are essential to achieving an accurate valuation. [quality of the reserves, for example]

… Despite the fact that it is the largest oilfield discovery announced in the past 30 years and has engendered such fierce speculation, oil continues to dance with wolves at levels of $100-110 a barrel, accompanied by explanations from the economic media that would make you laugh if they didn’t also make you weep: In February of 2002 a barrel was at $20. And now, as I write, it’s approaching $110, more than five times as much. But in the world of flatland economics, there’s always an explanation to justify any kind of upward jump as something circumstantial (an explosion in a pipeline, a strike in some sector, off-the-cuff declarations from an oil-producing country’s leader, a hurricane near the ocean platforms, a guerrilla attack on some facilities, and so on).

… The comedian Groucho Marx wanted the epitaph on his gravestone to read “Pardon me for not getting up.” By way of farewell, I might add that this is what occurred to me when I saw the news about the supposedly impressive oilfield at Carioca.

Spanish author Pedro A. Prieto is Vice President of the Association for the Study of Energy Resources (AEREN) and co-editor of the Energy Crisis website (

AlterNet Editor’s note: This was translated from the Spanish original by Miss Machetera, proprietor of the Machetera blog.
(7 May 2008)