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Peak Oil is dead! Long live Peak Oil!
Noah Smith, Noahpinion
One of my favorite websites, The Oil Drum, is shutting down, and I am mad! Everyone is attributing the shutdown to the death of the "Peak Oil" meme, which in turn is attributed to fracking. The first is probably true; Peak Oil mania is over. But the second is false. Fracking has not killed Peak Oil. It just hasn’t fit the narratives that many of the Peak Oilers spun.
The thesis of Peak Oil is simple: Global oil production will soon peak and begin to decline. But there were two possible stories that the Peak Oilers told about how this would happen:
"Good Peak Oil": In this case, we find something that’s better than oil, and switch to that, just like we once transitioned away from whale oil. In this case, oil prices and production would both fall.
"Bad Peak Oil": In this case, we don’t find something better than oil, and as oil becomes more scarce, the price would go up, while oil production and overall economic activity both contracted.
What we got was neither of these. Or more accurately, we got a little bit of both, coupled with something else that doesn’t fit with either story.
(15 July 2013)
No Peak Oil Really Is Dead
Karl Smith, Forbes
… This is where the science gets “cluttery.” None of this, so far,says anything about the vast kerogen cycle in general or what one might do to tap into it. It is only about these little pockets. Some Peak Oil enthusiast will acknowledge this by saying “only the tiniest fraction of petroleum can be profitably extracted” Not to be too glib here but one’s response has to be “how do you know, have you tried?” Because the answer is no, they haven’t tried. No one until recently tried. Because, why would you. We had not yet exhausted the over 100 year-old insight that a lot of this stuff gets trapped in little pockets. Not only that, but people were getting absurdly rich just by being the first one to find a new pocket. It was like a 100 year long gold rush.
To wit, the core of the Peak Oil hypothesis could be summed up as: sometime in the not so distant future we need to put some effort into finding new oil extraction techniques.
(17 July 2013)
Has Peak Oil Been Vindicated Or Debunked?
Matthew Yglesias, Slate
I will admit that I’ve always found the "Peak Oil" debate to be a little bit confusing, especially because both the words "peak" and "oil" turn out to have some ambiguity to them. But recently a couple of my favorite bloggers were debating the implications of the "unconventional oil" boom for the debate, with Karl Smith proclaiming peak oil dead while Noah Smith says it lives on. My approach would be to try to skip past some of these definitional issues and look at prices.
… We can see the impact of the unconventional oil, which has created this anomalous gap between the WTI price and the Brent price. It’s a big gap. This is nothing to sneer at. Not only is it causing an economic boom in North Dakota and select portions of Texas, but it plausibly explains some of why America’s overall economic performance has been so much better than Europe’s. But even so, America’s oil boom hasn’t pushed U.S. oil prices back down to mid-aughts levels and it certainly hasn’t pushed U.S. oil prices back down to 1990s levels. The good old days of genuinely abundant liquid fuel really do appear to be behind us.
(18 July 2013)
Is Peak Oil Dead or Just Postponed?
Keith Kloor, Discover
Several months ago, I wondered if the media’s fascination with peak oil, which crested in the mid-2000s, had ended. A big concern of many in the energy/sustainability nexus had found expression in popular culture
… Personally, I found much value in the high-level discussions on natural resources and energy that were a staple of The Oil Drum, even if the overall slant was one I disagreed with. So I’m sorry to see the site close down. Others are chortling and seeing its demise as further proof of peak oil’s demise.
But what if the peak oil eulogies are premature?
(18 July 2013)
Peak oil, not climate change worries most Britons: Kemp
John Kemp, Reuters
Most people in Britain want to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but due more to fears of shortages and rising prices than to fears about climate change, according to a poll developed by researchers at Cardiff University and funded by the UK Energy Research Centre.
(18 July 2013)
5 Companies That Brought Down Peak Oil
Matt DiLallo, Motley Fool
Peak Oil is dead — or at least the website dedicated to educating the world on the theory is, as the popular Oil Drum website will cease publishing new content at end of the month. The theory just doesn’t seem to have much relevance these days, when North America is in the midst of a massive energy production boom. While we are a long way from celebrating Energy Independence Day, we’ve at least pushed back the date when Peak Oil will again become a major topic of conversation. With that as context, let’s look at five of the companies that have made Peak Oil no longer relevant.
(14 July 2013)