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Energy and peak oil - May 17

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.


Can we please just declare the end of 'peak oil' and start worrying about something important?

Tim Worstall, Telegraph
Apparently something terrible happens when we get to peak oil. I've never really quite understood the argument myself, but when we've used half of all the oil then civilisation collapses or something. I'm not sure why this should happen: we don't start starving when there's only half a loaf of bread left. But I am assured that something awful does happen.

That oil fields do get pumped out is obviously true – and also that you can have a good guess at when the ones we're currently pumping will run out. The part I don't get is the catastrophe. Some people seem to think that "peak oil" is when we can't actually pump out a higher amount: that if we've got 70 million barrels a day, then that's the most we can ever have, 70 million a day. Which is also called a disaster. ... It's true that if we really do reach some production plateau, then it's likely that the price will rise. But I still don't even see the catastrophe there.
(16 May 2012)



The U.S. Has A Lot Of Shale Oil, So What?

Steve Hynd, The Agonist
Quite a few rightwing commentators are making waves today about a Government Accountability Office statement which says (PDF) that:

The Green RiverFormation—an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming—contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale. USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions. The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered. At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.

There reactions are all along the same lines: this shale-oil reserve could "by itself supply domestic oil consumption for more than 200 years", and "will Obama, in a possible second term, block the development of the resources that can assure America’s economic supremacy for generations?"

Typically simplistic. If only it were that easy.

Few, if any, of those conservative oil-boosters are reading further into the GAO's report. two pages later, it mentions that there are two ways to get the oil out of the shale.

The first involves massive strip-mining to get the rock out, then heating it to 650 degrees plus to release the oil. That method has three major commercial problems: it can never get at the bulk of the reserves, which are buried under thousands of feet of non-oily rock, the cost of the power (and water to make that power) to heat the rock makes the oil it produces very expensive, and there are no roads suitable to get the equipment needed for large-scale mining into the area ...
(13 May 2012)



Chevron VP: Technology can unlock new fields, curb fears of peak oil

Simone Sebastian, FuelFix
Technology advancements in the energy sector can boost oil and gas production, improve safety and curb fears that fossil fuels are rapidly running out, a Chevron official said today.

During the opening session of a Houston energy conference this morning, Jay Pryor, Chevron’s vice president for business development, touted a number of technology advancements that have improved the efficiency and safety of fossil fuel production, including enhanced oil recovery, 3D seismic imaging, horizontal wells, and hydraulic fracturing.

“Because of technology, we are producing in places once just dreamed of,” Pryor said, at the 10th annual KPMG Global Energy Conference. “In lifting those reserves, we’ve raised doubts about the eminence [imminence?] of peak oil.”
(17 May 2012)



The Biggest Threat to High Oil Prices

Jason Simpkins, Wall Street Daily
The biggest threat to oil prices isn’t excess supply, uneven demand or slowing global growth.

It’s the rise of the U.S. dollar – or more precisely, the fall of the euro.

You see, oil and other commodities are priced in U.S. dollars, so as the dollar strengthens, their value declines. Conversely, as the dollar loses value, the prices of commodities increase to reflect that.
(16 May 2012)



Amory Lovins: A 50-year plan for energy
(video)
Amory Lovins, Ted Talk
In this intimate talk filmed at TED's offices, energy theorist Amory Lovins lays out the steps we must take to end the world's dependence on oil (before we run out). Some changes are already happening -- like lighter-weight cars and smarter trucks -- but some require a bigger vision.

In his new book, "Reinventing Fire," Amory Lovins shares ingenious ideas to for the next era of energy.
(May 2012)



U.S. energy independence is no longer just a pipe dream

Tim Mullaney, USA TODAY
... Much of Wall Street and Washington is seized by the hope that the U.S.'s energy future will be as bright as Williamsport's. As Americans heave a sigh of relief at gasoline prices falling back from near $4 a gallon, big new discoveries of domestic oil and natural gas hold the promise of more substantial benefits for the U.S. economy for decades to come — even the possibility of energy independence.

Every president since Richard Nixon has called for the U.S. to wean itself from needing oil from unstable or unsavory countries. The nation's new-found energy riches are likely to bring that ambition closer to reality in the next two decades, according to many forecasters.

It's no pipe dream. The U.S. is already the world's fastest-growing oil and natural gas producer.
(16 May 2012)
See Jeffrey J. Brown's rebuttal at yesterday's Energy Bulletin.

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