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Peak Oil Scare Fades as Shale, Deepwater Wells Gush Crude

Joe Carroll, Bloomberg
… the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that more than 2 trillion barrels of untouched crude is still locked in the ground, enough to last more than 70 years at current rates of consumption. Technological advances enable companies to image, drill and shatter subterranean rocks with precision never dreamed of in decades past. Trillions of barrels of petroleum previously thought unreachable or nonexistent have been identified, mapped and in many cases bought and sold during the past half decade, from the boggy wastes of northern Alberta, to the arid mountain valleys of Patagonia, to Africa’s Rift Valley.

“Betting against human ingenuity has been a mistake,” says Lacalle, who today helps oversee $1.3 billion as a portfolio manager at Ecofin Ltd. in London. “The resource base is absolutely enormous, so much so that we will not run out of oil in my lifetime, your lifetime, our children’s lifetimes or our grandchildren’s lifetimes.”

… Oil prices dipped last week, but diplomatic tensions over Iran’s nuclear program have pushed them 7 percent higher than a year ago.

… As Peak Oil debates recede, petroleum will remain an object of both passion and logical debate for reasons that have less to do with production histories and reserve estimates than with geopolitics and geophysics: How does the U.S. rely less on unfriendly oil-producing nations? How much oil can we save as more cars run on both gas and electricity? How can we reconcile fossil fuel combustion with the risks of climate change?
(6 February 2012)
The skeptometer has a high reading with this article – sounds more like talking points than analysis. With all this abundance, why are oil prices still so high in the middle of a recession? -BA

Oil, Food, Water: Is Everything Past Its Peak?

Eric Roston, Bloomberg
… Last week a commentary in the prestigious journal Nature argued, “oil’s tipping point has passed.” It’s the most recent high-profile salvo about whether, or how soon, the petroleum extraction that drives the global economy will reach a plateau and then, inevitably, decline.

“Peak” alarms going off aren’t unique to oil. There’s peak coal: Production could top out around 2025, according to the Energy Watch Group, an international group of legislators and scientists studying long-term trends. Peak food: The U.N.’s Food Price Index reached a new high in February 2011, exacerbating poverty in developing countries and creating potential for civil unrest. “Peak water” entered the popular lexicon in 2010, after two scientists classified threats to human use of rivers and underground aquifers, and to ecological stability. Peak coffee, peak chocolate, peak rare earth metals, peak travel have all followed suit. It’s “peak” season.

Two simple trends are driving these concerns. The world has more people than ever, and more of those people than ever are breaking out of abject poverty and competing in a global market for goods and resources.

… The concept of peak oil, or peak anything, is imperfect. New technologies and new discoveries have proven most estimates of the world’s limitations to be overly pessimistic. Unconventional petroleum products such as tar sands and shale gas products show that even if the extraction of conventional oil in its purest form has peaked, “peak cars” or “peak electricity” aren’t yet on the horizon. But as a framework for anticipating the world’s resource needs, peaks are a good way to survey the horizon.
(6 February 2012)
The viewpoint of the article is not that different from that of the peak oil blogosphere. It admits conventional oil production has probably peaked, for example.

Part of a new Sustainability section in Bloomberg’s offerings. Good for you, Bloomberg!

Fulsome Fossil Fuels And The ‘Peak Oil’ Myth

Bob Lutz, Forbes
Here’s what we all know to be true: petroleum products are being consumed by an increasingly mobile world faster than foreseeable rises in production. As China puts its billion-and-change population on wheels, demand for oil, even with well-intentioned (but hopelessly inadequate) solar and wind farms in the picture, will drive scarcity. Prices will rise astronomically, giving more wealth and political clout to countries hostile to our way of life, and resulting in generalized economic chaos.

… It was armed with this solid, generally shared knowledge that I traveled to Houston to speak at a Deloitte & Touche oil and gas conference. Luckily, I attended the morning session before my noontime talk, and thus had a chance to rewrite my speech, full of the foregoing “knowledge” as it was, as an all-new paradigm had displaced my (un)comfortable “conventional wisdom” regarding the energy world.

Company after company, executive upon oil economist, all described the coming flood of North American oil and gas discovery and production. Whether Texas shale gas or Canadian bitumen, the Bakken field in North Dakota and southern Canada, coupled with advanced new exploration and extraction technology, it was a scenario of abundance.

… So, with “Peak Oil” exposed as yet another Chicken-Little fallacy, those of us who rejected the idea of CO2-caused planetary meltdown and instead embraced reduced dependence on foreign oil as a reason for widespread vehicle electrification are seemingly left with a solution, but no credible problem.

… let’s shed ourselves of the notion that “we’re running out; gotta do something quick,” or, worse, “we only have a short window in which to act before we face climatic Armageddon.”

Electrification of the transportation sector can and will succeed on its own merits.

Bob Lutz: “I’m a car guy, and that’s (mostly) what I write about.”

(6 February 2012)

Peak Oil–No Longer the Right Question

A Shell Oil geologist named M. King Hubbert predicted in 1956 that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. When it did, Hubbert became the geologist equivalent of a rock star and gave the young environmental movement evidence for something it was seeking: a limit to growth.

When is — or was — peak world oil production? It’s just not the right question anymore. Deepwater drilling, tar sands extraction, and the shale gas boom have extended the supply of hydrocarbon fuels. The new question: What’s the smartest way to use them?

The iconic Peak Oil example has inspired parlor-game questions about other resources. Some, like coal, are finite; others, like water, are renewable but have limits to how quickly reserves can be replenished. Can Earth keep up with our demand? Call it Peak Everything.
(6 February 2012)