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Rome didn’t collapse in a day

John Kinhart, Sorry Comics
Sorry Comics on peak oilSorry Comics on peak oil

Sorry Comics are a collection of autobiographical stories from my life. I started this process in 2006 during a tumultuous break-up and I can’t seem to shake the habit. Hopefully, you’ll find them to be humorous, self-effacing, awkward, funny, uncomfortable and humiliating (for both you and me).
(15 September 2011)
Only an excerpt. See the original for the rest of the story of one man’s awakening to peak oil. The previous strip had our hero’s introduction to the concept: As We Know It (Sept 11). -BA


Is Yergin Correct about Oil Supply? (an Opinion the WSJ did not run)

Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
On Monday after the WSJ ran Daniel Yergin’s essay, There Will Be Oil, I submitted this rebuttal. They ask to have the exclusive right to any submission for 10 days. At this point, they have neither printed it nor responded back, so it seems OK for me to post it here instead.

Saturday, September 17, the WSJ ran an essay by Daniel Yergin called, “There Will Be Oil.” In the essay, Yergin argues that the advocates of “peak oil” theory are wrong. He says, “Meeting future demand will require innovation, investment and the development of more challenging resources,” but he doesn’t make this sound like a huge problem. Most of the big challenges would be above ground issues, like politics, mismanagement of resources, and wars.

Should we believe this story? It sounds strangely dissonant, compared to what we have been hearing from other sources. In 2007, the National Petroleum Council (NPC) issued a report called, “Facing Hard Truths about Energy.” In fact, Daniel Yergin was one of the authors of the report. The cover letter to this report said,

“To meet the accumulating risks, all recommendations of the 2007 report require implementation with increased urgency and commitment. As stated in the 2007 report, there is no single, easy solution to the global challenges ahead. Given the massive scale of the global energy system and the long lead-times necessary to make material changes, all actions must be initiated now and sustained over the long term. We need all economic, environmentally-responsible energy sources to assure adequate, reliable supply.”

… Yergin characterizes the nature of peak oil discussion today by a rather inadequate reading of the earliest writings for M. King Hubbert on the subject. For example, if Yergin had read Hubbert’s 1956 paper more closely, he would have discovered that Hubbert talked about the likelihood of reduced decline rates in later years because of improved recovery methods. Furthermore, Hubbert gave his forecast for world oil supply in the context of some other resource—nuclear energy in his 1956 paper—rising to fill with shortfall in energy production. The shape of the world oil extraction curve is likely to be quite different (much steeper after peak), in the absence of this assumption, as I have explained in a post on The Oil Drum (theoildrum.com).

Today’s peak oilers have a range of beliefs. This is to be expected, in any new field. Not all of them can be correct. But it seems to me that the field has a great deal to offer to expand the thinking of economists, whose models to date have assumed that economic growth can continue indefinitely and that technological advances and substitution can fix world oil supply problems. Perhaps the situation is more complex than current models assume. A more refined view of the world situation is possible if the understandings that come from geological knowledge can also be brought to bear on the subject.

Gail Tverberg is a researcher and speaker on issues related to oil supply. Her background is as a casualty actuary. She is an editor of The Oil Drum (theoildrum.com), a speaker at the upcoming annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil in Washington DC, and has her own blog, Our Finite World (ourfiniteworld.com)
(29 September 2011)


Forget about peak oil
(Yergin interview)
Alice Karekezi, Salon
… Daniel Yergin: The peak oil argument is that we are already halfway through the world’s endowment of recoverable oil. The argument that I am making is that the endowment is much larger, and technology keeps enlarging what we can recover. Case study No. 1 is offshore Brazil where you have what is called presalt [oil found under a thick layer of salt lying just beneath the seabed]. It was inaccessible up until a few years ago. It is very large and will likely make Brazil one of the powerhouses of world oil production. Case study No. 2 is North Dakota. The Bakken formation [a rock formation yielding shale, or “tight” oil] was producing, a few years ago, 10,000 barrels a day. Now it is producing about 450,000 barrels a day. That came as a surprise. Five years ago, no one would have thought that North Dakota would be the fourth-largest oil-producing state in the country, but that’s because of advanced technology.

There have been recurrent periods of great fear of running out of oil and it goes back to when oil was first developed as a commercial business in western Pennsylvania in the 19th century. It was always mysterious and people were predicting it would come to an end and we’d have to go back to using whale oil or coal or so forth. But each time there is this anxiety, what happens is new technology, new innovations, new areas open up, and the supply picture suddenly looks much better. So this current peak oil discussion is really the latest manifestation of what has been a recurrent feature since people started using and developing oil. But when you look at the numbers, we see that there is an additional supply coming in. My view is that rather than facing an imminent decline we’ll see production of oil liquids continue to expand for a few more decades and then it’ll come to a plateau. It won’t necessarily fall off sharply.

But this is not to say that everything is fine because, first of all, new resources have to be developed and that requires investment and time. Secondly, it does go back to what I call the aboveground risks, which are the geopolitics: conflicts within countries, what governments want to do. There are many things to worry about but with adequate investment and progress in technology, we can meet the supply needs.
(29 September 2011)


The UK’s North Sea production declines below 1 million barrel per day

EnergyMarketPrice
The UK’s oil output from the North Sea registered a 16 % plunge from April to June, being the largest drop since 1995, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said yesterday.

According to the industry data, the British sector of the North Sea pumped just 984,000 barrels per day of oil in June, down from about over 1 million barrels per day in May and a peak of more than 2.7 million barrels per day in 1999.

The officials from The Department and Climate Change put the declining output as a cause of “maintenance and other production issues”.

The British oil reserves are gradually depleting and cost more and more each year to maintain and operate.

Oil & Gas UK says there are still billions of barrels of hydrocarbons in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), but much of these reserves are in the form of natural gas and are located in very difficult areas to explore.
(30 September 2011)
Re-posted with permission. -BA