# The R/P Ratio

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

In oil, as in other extractive industries, you have what is called the “R/P ratio”. In the R/P ratio, “R” is reserves of whatever it is you are extracting, and “P” is the production rate, the rate at which you are extracting and using up your reserves.

Figure 1. World annual oil production in billions of barrels (blue line), and years left at that production rate (R/P ratio, red line). Right scale shows the proven oil reserves for each year, in billions of barrels (dotted green line). DATA SOURCE: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011, a most fascinating Excel spreadsheet. PHOTO Spindletop Hill Gusher, 1901

When you divide the amount you have in reserves by the rate at which you are extracting the resource, you get the number of years the reserves will last at that rate of extraction. Accordingly, I include the R/P ratio in Figure 1 as “Years Left”

A couple of things to point out. First, the “Years Left”, the R/P ratio, is currently more than forty years … and has been for about a quarter century. Thirty years ago, we only had 30 years of proven oil reserves left. Estimates then said we would be running out of oil about now.

Twenty-five years ago, we had about forty years left. Ten years ago we had over forty years left. Now we have over forty-five years left. I’m sure you see the pattern here.

Second, this is only what are termed “proven reserves” (Wiki). It does not include “unproven reserves”, much of which is in the form of unconventional oils such as shale oil and oil sands. Even discounting the unproven reserves, while the rate of production has increased, the proven reserves have also increased at about the same rate. So the R/P ratio, the years left at the current rate of production, has stayed over forty years for almost a quarter century..

Now, at some point this party has to slow down, nothing goes on forever … but the data shows we certainly don’t need to hurry to replace oil with solar energy or rainbow energy or wind energy in the next few decades. We have plenty of time for the market to indicate the replacement.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to find a better energy source than oil. In fact, the huge new sources of shale gas will substitute in many areas for things like heating oil, and will burn cleaner in the bargain. And I do think we’ll find new sources of energy, humans are endlessly inventive.

I’m just registering my protest against the meme of “OMG we’re running out of oil we must change energy sources right now tomorrow!!”. It is simply not true. We have plenty of time. We have decades. We don’t have to blow billions of dollars of our money subsidizing solar and wind and biofuels. The world has enough oil to last for a long while, plenty long enough for the market to determine whatever the next energy source might be.

w.

NOTE: Oil figures, particularly reserves, are estimates. Oil companies are notoriously close-mouthed about their finds and the extent of their holdings. The advantage of the BP figures is that they are a single coherent time series. Other data gives somewhat different results. As far as I know the increase in proven reserves despite increasing production is common to all estimates.

## 515 thoughts on “The R/P Ratio”

1. tokyoboy says:

Where on earth is the good ole Peak Oil??

2. PaulR says:

Yes, someday the oil will run out. Someday, not tomorrow or the day after or even in the next twenty years. Peak Oil is just another version Chicken Little doom mongering. Good post.

3. Magnus says:

“we certainly don’t need to hurry to replace oil with solar energy or rainbow energy or wind energy in the next few decades.”
mmmmmmmmmmmm… raaainbow energy.

4. The present arguments are tempered by urgency, if “tempered” is indeed a correct term. If we have the time, we should take it, and be very deliberate about finding a solution. But humans being the way they are, there will be some barbaric goings-on as oil dwindles, as those who resisted change cling to the remaining supplies. Ugly-sounding, but look at it. We already have the tip of the iceberg with the implications from Durban. Instead of taking steps to change at a deliberate rate and adapt to any changes (regardless of cause), instead the impetus is to cripple the world’s economy through the urging of unelected groups. That’ll teach ’em! Alarmism has become the engine of change, except that the choice of action is equally emotional….read useless.
Maybe this sounds callous, but I’m glad I’m getting older, because I won’t get to see what happens a few decades from now. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on flattening the R/P curve, while some very smart people try and find an alternative that doesn’t destroy us all.

5. DaveS says:

Willis, Thanks for this industry level summary. Please note that the numerator (Reserves) is a consequence of exploration investment decisions, and does not tell us much at all about reserves in a geological sense. Holding reserves beyond 30-40 years makes as much sense as an automotive company keeping a 30-40 year stock of engines in a warehouse. DaveS

6. Keith Battye says:

I understand that the privately owned oil companies do not report all of their proved resources for tax reasons. I also understand that the nationally owned oil companies do the same for political reasons.
It is obvious that oil will be with us for many a long year to come.
Willis, I enjoy your stuff. Neat, clear and simple.

7. AndyG55 says:

tokyoboy says:
Where on earth is the good ole Peak Oil??
if you look at the red line, you can see it has peaked in 2009. 😉

8. Richard111 says:

By jingo! Just how did this poor little planet support all those critters in the distant past to leave us this wonderfull world wide fossil legacy? /sarc

9. Leon Brozyna says:

We’ll never run out of oil.
At some point in the distant future, it will become just too expensive a commodity to waste by burning it (gasoline in automobiles or heating oil for home heating). At which point, from out of left field will appear some upstart energy company that’ll solve the problem for the car companies and knock the socks off the oil companies.
Of course, if the “we know what’s best for you” politicians get into the act, we’re doomed.

10. Good article.
2 points of comment.
Modern technology will always find more reserves than old technology.
Oil is not a “fossil” fuel. It is being “created” continually by reactions in the Earths’ interior.
Posts on this site have mentioned this a few times. Apparently the Russians are investigating this seriously.
There are no fossils associated with Oil.Oil comes from the bottom to the up. Old oil fields are reported as filling up after many years of being abandoned
Worth following up.

11. Ken Hall says:

As a layman with no particular expertise in oil production, nor in how they actually work out what the proven reserves are, but I do know that for decades there have been alarmist predictions of things running out and humanity facing catastrophe because of it. From the predictions of food running out when the world’s population exceeded 5 billion, to this, they have all been wrong. We are beginning to see the same false alarmism being proven wrong in regards to climate change.

Willis,
I would like to point out there are 6000 products made from oil as a base product. Second, with new technics combined with new technology being utilized in the oil sands even as I write our reserves are stretching out further and further every ten years it seems. Once we thought we could not get to the deep oil sands – and of course at that time we were surface mining. Since then much has changed. Of course you are also correct when not mentioning the US and Canadian Arctic reserves nor the offshore reserves off both the US and Canadian west at least. However in the Arctic we have no real idea where all the oil and gas is or in what quantities, however, we do know oil and gas is there and have some idea where it is in a few places. Nor that of Russia and other world offshore oil in multiple locations. And you are more than dead on when you mention oil reserves have been stretching out when compared with past estimates – once again due to new technics and new technology.
BUT for the most part we (as an oil company) never, EVER say outright exactly what our reserves are at any given time (trade secrets). Should the US ever get its shale and offshore on the go then North America will be sitting very nicely for 200+ years or more.
BTW, try living up here in Canada with windmills and solar – or leftists magic gerbil wheels all the way up into the Arctic with six months of darkness. I’ll tell you this much – you’re gonna need a whole lot more clothes than the eco-leftists had in Durban.

13. Robber says:

Oil is a diminishing resource – 40 years is little time to wean ourselves off oil, and find alternatives. This is a bigger longer term problem than climate change, but agree that the best answer is to let the market find solutions, not have governments trying to pick winners through crazy subsidies. Coal on the other hand I believe has several hundred years of reserves provided we are allowed by the UN to burn it. Or as in Australia under Gillard required to live within a “clean energy future” – rationing anyone?

14. Another Ian says:

Richard111 says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:31 am
By jingo! Just how did this poor little planet support all those critters in the distant past to leave us this wonderfull world wide fossil legacy? /sarc
Rhyming slang there by any chance?
Are you supporting abiotic oil then?

15. Christopher Hanley says:

Forgive me for sounding a melancholy note.
Forty years is not a long time.
What alternatives at the necessary scale are even feasible for future heavy road transport and fast air travel?

16. Don K says:

Willis, I wouldn’t put much faith in “proven reserve” numbers. OPEC sets production quotas partially on reserves. And — surprise — reserve figures for OPEC countries continually increase. Other countries probably have reasons for mis-stating their reserves (Some may be understated).
A question one might ask themselves. If there is all that oil in the world, why are oil prices so high? Market manipulation is certainly one possibility. But I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the world is producing about as much oil as it can and the reserve numbers are largely fiction. My guess is someplace in between.
On the bright side, Natural Gas Liquids — oil that turns up in natural gas wells (sort of) — seem generally not to be counted in oil reserves and sometimes not in oil production. In the US, a significant percentage of our “domestic oil production” is NGLs, and the number will probably increase.
Note also, that the years left probably doesn’t tell us a lot. It is pretty clear that the 85% of the world that does not live in OECD countries is going to suck up oil on a grand scale in future years — if it can be produced, and if they can afford it.

17. Richard S Courtney says:

Willis:
Thanks for your graph. It provides a clear, pictorial presaentation of the facts.
The simple truth I always state (and have made on WUWT) to refute the ‘peak oil’ scare is as follows.
Oil reserves were about 40 years throughout the twentieth century and will be about 40 years throughout the twentyfirst century. This is because oil companies have a planning horizon of about 40 years. So, the oil companies pay people to look for more souces when oil reserves fall below 40 years, And they don’t pay people to look for more sources when they have 40 years supply because they don’t pay people to look for what they don’t need.
Richard

18. Geckko says:

Willis,
Thanks for that antidote to the Peak Oil shills. A few additional points to addd, which you nod to with you reference to this being “proven” reserves only. We need to be cogniscant of the following:
– Additional finds that will occur at current prices
– Additional additional finds that would occur if prices increased (i.e. supply did become more of a problem)
– Additional extraction and recovery that will occur over time with technological progress
– Additional extraction and recovery that would occur if prices increased
– The fungibility of fossil fuels (you gotta luv ’em), which means that, for example, that fracking gas makes these numbers even bigger in real terms (i.e. the MASSIVE amounts of gas new technology is bringing NOW can substitute for oil in many areas)

19. markx says:

@Ken Hall December 14, 2011 at 12:50 am
Very true.
And climate alarmism has the advantage of putting the blame on a very conveniently measurable, taxable and tradable scapegoat, CO2.

20. John says:

This doesn’t show demand and if the amount produced will meet demand or how that will affect prices. Also the reserves here are economically viable reserves. I.e. as price goes up reserves go up as it become viable to exploits fields that we know about. New discoveries is actually less than production and not shown on this graph.
The estimates for remaining oil are massive non-conventional reserves are estimated at some 10 times more than the conventional oil produced so far. If you’ll be able to afford it and if they produce it fast enough is another matter entirely

21. P Wilson says:

wow. There is a correlation between projected oil reserves and projected climate change. The deadline is always 40 years away from any moment, past or present. Difference is, we shall have to do something about oil, and what happens when it gets rare.

22. jorgekafkazar says:

But what about the precautionary principle? Shouldn’t we be developing the world’s first lunar collector? Of course we should! Solar power doesn’t work at night, but we could protect the world against falling energy reserves by employing lunar green cheese energy collectors at night. Here at the State Pen Energy Research Institute’s Travestron Project, we’ve had unprecedented success* in producing a robust collimated beam of lunar energy on our rooftop at night, using VW hubcaps as parabolic reflectors. A grant of a few billion more dollars is needed to reduce this to commercial practice. Send us your green! [PayPal only; no checks, money orders, euros, or Zimbabwean currency.]
* Except for an incident when Michael, one of our most dedicated researchers, walked into the beam and was afflicted with lunacy, wandered off, and hasn’t been seen since.

23. Richard says:

Thanks for the post, Willis. I appreciate the effort that must go in to discovering all the data behind your posts.
There’s one other factor (that I know of) that controls Years Left, and that’s the technology used on the consumption side. It gets more efficient and Years Left increases. e.g. when fuel injection replaced carburetors in motor cars and mpg figures increased significantly. I don’t think that technology has stalled.

24. Thanks Willis that is the clearest and simplest exposition I’ve seen. Very helpful, bookmarked.
Now it would be good to consder, who benefits (fiscally) from promoting scare?
However I do agree with you and probably most other commentor here, that even so this is not necessarily an endless supply, that we should be actively seeking alternatives. And (IMHO) I think it is very important to consider “sustainability” – but with decent science behind it, as well as awareness of human reactions to crunch situations. And I think it’s important to search for how best to manage human reactions – starting with one’s own – in which, awareness of truth at many levels is of prime importance.

25. Les Francis says:

Paul C. Oil geologists know roughly where to look for the oil. It doesn’t appear at lower levels in the earths crust dated pre the Carboniferous Period. There are some deposits at levels dating to the age of the dinosaurs.
There is no sense exploring earths layers that are deeper than the Carboniferous period – there’s no oil to be found.
One point to make.
All the easy oil is gone. i.e. the oil reserves at low depths of the earths crust.which is relatively inexpensive to exploit. We are into the era of higher cost oil. – deeper land and deep offshore wells. Next will be more expensive shale oil.
Eventually as someone as already pointed out, oil will no longer be available for private transportation.

26. PaulC says: December 14, 2011 at 12:41 am

Oil is not a “fossil” fuel. It is being “created” continually by reactions in the Earths’ interior.

Indeed, there is some powerful evidence of this, plus powerful evidence of suppression of evidence (familiar anyone?). However, that evidence also says that such wells are not gushers and have to be pumped pretty slowly. The Russians are, I understand, already doing this using several super-deep wells.
But tread carefully here, be extra careful with facts and politeness. This topic is a bit sensitive at WUWT, or has been in the past. Fringe topics are always sensitive issues liable to be bagged by the William Connolleys or whatever, or leaned upon by interested parties.

27. ianl8888 says:

@Willis E
This touches on one of my professional interests
It is true that both private and Govt organisations (eg. OPEC, Russia) routinely restrict (censor) hard data on oil Resources and Reserves (gold and other minerals as well). This is done for “national security” reasons. It is almost impossible to access accurate, reliable geological/engineering data on these … hence your 40 year “magic pudding” (R)
The future rate of extraction (P) depends on the future rate of consumption. We would need to predict with accuracy the future consumption of China and India over the next 50 years to be in the hunt for a reliable estimate of P. Not much hope of accuracy here, I believe
Whenever Peak Oil advocates rear their wishful thinking (Peak Oil is almost always used to scare people), I list out these two factual questions and inquire whether they have reliable answers. Then the only reply is dead silence

28. John Marshall says:

It also does not include resources that are not yet legal to extract. When these are legally extractable they become a reserve. Most of Alaska falls into this and Alaska has large coal fields, oil and gas which the rules prohibit us from extracting. There are also clathrate deposits in all oceans and under the permafrosts of the planet. All we need is the political will to do this, and a bit more technology perhaps.

29. a jones says:

What the graph shows beautifully is the cyclical nature of the oil business which is common to many extraction industries.
When supply is short prices are high and profits good leading to investment which in turn results in a glut and falling prices and profits and a dearth in investment.
This is clearly seen; the high prices of the 70’s spurred development so by the late 80’s oil was cheap, development slowed up, until the steadily rising price towards the turn of the century sparked a new round of exploration.
Only political meddling is buttressing the oil price at the moment, expect to see it fall quite sharply over this decade.
Kindest Regards.

30. The trend line is clear: the R/P ratio increases at 0.5% per year.

31. Correction: the R/P ratio increases at 0.5 years per year. Or, if it’s exponential, 1% per year.
>:)

32. Oh good, Les Francis. Now please tell us why there are heaps of hydrocarbons on Titan.

33. Dave says:

My understanding as some one has already posted above is that OPEC countries are notorious for overstating their reserves.
The biggest question to ask about the chart is if oil reserves are not a problem, how come they have not responded to significant increases in consumption from China.
Those increases from china which have not been matched by worldwide oil production have been largely responsible for the ever increasing price of oil (disregarding the 2008 spike)

34. TimTheToolMan says:

There is only one line on that graph of any worth when considering peak oil and its the blue line. Its the only one which has any sort of reliability of measurement too.
Proven reserves being “large” supports those like Willis who think peak oil is so far off its not a problem.
Proven reserves being “small or unknown” supports those who believe the oil companies are rigging the figures to set their production quotas within OPEC rules.
The blue line, however, is globally visible production and reflects actual reality and if it never gets higher than it is, means we’re already peaking.

35. David Gould says:

Willis,
Peak oil has never been about peak oil reserves. It has been about peak oil [i]production[/i]. And your graph shows production flatlining since around 2004, which is an indication that peak oil might be upon us.

36. Fredrick Lightfoot says:

Sigh, Wooden derricks and 100,000 barrels a day at 1,000 feet, the good old days, But !
For political, geographical, and access problems there is still about 40% of the world land mass that has not been explored/seismic surveyed, Note LAND MASS. 75% of the worlds oceans remain unexplored, and as for the graph above, the owner of the biggest reserves of oil in the world would most probably be the U.S. Military and that is just areas marked on maps not barrels Sigh.

37. Lucy Skywalker says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:47 am
Indeed, there is some powerful evidence of this, plus powerful evidence of suppression of evidence (familiar anyone?). However, that evidence also says that such wells are not gushers and have to be pumped pretty slowly. The Russians are, I understand, already doing this using several super-deep wells.
But tread carefully here, be extra careful with facts and politeness. This topic is a bit sensitive at WUWT, or has been in the past. Fringe topics are always sensitive issues liable to be bagged by the William Connolleys or whatever, or leaned upon by interested parties.
I am really surprised that topics like this are taboo on WUWT. Oil supplies are close to the most important issue facing this planet.
It sounds like Global Warming all over again

38. cedarhill says:

Not to worry. The good news is if we ever run out of the stuff in the ground, the folks at Los Alamos have shown that we can simply use nuke power to manufacture hydrocarbons literally out of the thin air and water. Carbon from CO2 (think dry ice); hydrogen from water. Ever since Germany of WWII vintage except they had to use coal.
Nuke material we know about would be good for a billion years or so. And the Greens would just love recycling CO2 and taking dirty water and making clouds out of it. Even my tomatoes would love it.

39. markus says:

Energy by power source 2008[18] TWh
Oil 48 204 33.5%
Coal 38 497 26.8%
Gas 30 134 20.9%
Nuclear 8 283 5.8%
Hydro 3 208 2.2%
Other RE* 15 284 10.6%
Others 241 0.2%
Total 143 851 100%
Source: IEA *`=solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels
—————————————————————————————————————————
Definition of ‘Barrel Of Oil Equivalent (BOE)’
A term used to summarize the amount of energy that is equivalent to the amount of energy found in a barrel of crude oil. There are 42 gallons (approximately 159 liters) in one barrel of oil, which will contain approximately 5.8 million British Thermal Units (MBtus) or 1,700 kilowatt hours (kWh).
—————————————————————————————————————————
2010 use 30 billions barrels increasing from 23 billion barrels 2000 estimated 2060 production being 30 billion x 31.42% compounded x 5 = 117 billion barrels or 201 423 TWh
—————————————————————————————————————————
In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules (474×1018 J=132,000 TWh). This is equivalent to an average energy consumption rate of 15 terawatts (1.504×1013 W).[1] The potential for renewable energy is: solar energy 1600 EJ (444,000 TWh), wind power 600 EJ (167,000 TWh), geothermal energy 500 EJ (139,000 TWh), biomass 250 EJ (70,000 TWh), hydropower 50 EJ (14,000 TWh) and ocean energy 1 EJ (280 TWh).[6]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption
————————————————————————————————————————–
If renewables are producing 25% of what they are capable of by 2060 then no wucking furries.

40. Alan the Brit says:

Ecxcellent post again Willis, clear, logical, rational! I like:-)
PaulC says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:41 am
I also understand this to be the case. Indeed when you Wiki search for oil it merely states more or less that it is generally accepted to be a fossil fule, but provides no evidence to support such an assumption/statement. The Russians, under Jo Stalin, started to reseach the origins of oil to permit them to make newer discoveries of supplies. They believed that oil was in fact mineral based as it contained many minerals found in meteorites. I’ll try & track down the sources of this information as I only came across it by accident, & didn’t download it at the time. If it is the case, it has huge implications for supplies in the future!

41. ferdinand says:

As you infer in the article – no commodity has ever run out. Alternatives or substitutes always take over. That is why the “running out of oil” theory is an alarm sent to scare climate realists.

42. meemoe_uk says:

thanks Willis, this underpins the key idea from which peakoil doomers keep themselves in suspended hysteria. Oil companys only ever bother prooving about 20-30 years worth of future oil reserves. The peakoil gang misinterpret this as ‘ only 20-30 years worth of oil left ! ‘ , which combined with their bell curve mean that ‘peak oil is now ! ‘ – always.
I was a peakoi doomer for a couple of years 2006 – 2008. I noticed the day of reckoning keep slipping forward, which spurred a critical review of my belief.

43. Jeff says:

And of course, herein lies much of the problem…everytime the R/P slope is down, the peak-oil people start crowing about how we are running out of oil. This sends entrepreneurial people out, spending money and devoting their careers to find the replacement, and paying others to devote their careers to finding the replacement, only to have the line moved farther and farther into the future. How on earth do they A. justify their careers, and B. get their money back? Hmmmmm…

44. David Archibald says:

When does the world produce its last barrel of naturally occurring, free-flowing oil? In about 2160. What happens in the meantime? The production rate goes down to meet that zero flow rate in one hundred and fifty years. What will the decline rate be over the next few decades? It will average about one million barrels/day/year. What will happen to the oil price? It will go up until substitutes come in.

45. ImranCan says:

Willis
You have it wrong about what ‘proven’ reserves are. It is a term that defines a statistical view of the reserves which have a band of uncertainty with them. For example if there is a probability distribution curve defining the range of outcomes the ‘proven reserves’ would be say the P85 number (85th percentile). The expectation number (mean) is often quoted as ‘probable’ while the P15 number is sometimes quoted as ‘possible’
Also, its not a case of proven vs. unproven. You also have to understand the various definition of the resources. In order for something to classify as ‘reserves’ it has to be developed iof have a solid development plan in place. Sometimes (for larger volumes) it is even required to have the funding agreed and committed. If this is not done then the resources are not called ‘reserves’ but other names like ‘resources’ of ‘scope for recovery’ etc. You also start to get into the discussion about discovered vs. undiscovered etc.

46. Tom says:

Oil is being continually created, but at rates much slower than we are using it. It makes sense to consider it a finite resource. The Russian and Swedish deep drilling was done 25-30 years ago and found nothing. IIRC the Swedish well found traces of oil but it was never established to be anything but contamination from the drilling process itself.
“Proven Reserves” is not a geologial or engineering number, it is a financial number calculated by very specific SEC rules. It counts only oil proven by existing wells and assumes current prices and technology. It is obviously a very conservative estimate. It is useful because all companies publicly traded in the US have to calculate it the same way, so comparing Exxon’s reserves to Chevron’s reserves is at least an apples to apples comparison, even if it is a lowball estimate. It is of no value in estimating long-term future production.

47. Paul80 says:

Although restricted Alaskan coal fields were mentioned by John Marshall, the production of petrol/gasolene (or other liquid fuels) from coal is barely in the picture as yet – crude oil is still cheap enough not to need it.

48. Don says:

Good line Brian

49. Earl Smith says:

Don K said:
December 14, 2011 at 1:01 am
A question one might ask themselves. If there is all that oil in the world, why are oil prices so high? Market manipulation is certainly one possibility.
One of the interesting comments by Ron Paul is about the price of gas.
Back in the early ’60s you could buy a gallon of gas (neglecting taxes) for one thin silver dime.
Today you can still buy the gallon (neglecting taxes) for that same dime. (a silver dime not the Johnson dimes we now use)
The problem is not that prices have risen, rather it is that the government has been robbing us by means of inflation. A 1916 nickel had more purchasing power than todays dollar. The Fed has been busy printing dollars.
Part of the reason OPEC was formed was to get oil prices back in parity with what the were before the rapid devaluations associated with the costs of the VietNam War.

50. Jimmy Haigh says:

PaulC says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:41 am
[snip . . you need to be a bit more specific or you may be considered a troll. . kbmod]

51. Reference says:

A little bit of history.
When the UK government decided to permit onshore exploration for oil, Canadian oil explorers looked at the published geological maps of Britain, then applied for and were awarded licences over the Silurian rocks of southern Wales.
Why? Because they were used to finding oil in the Silurian rocks of Canada.
Compositional variability of crude oils and source kerogen in the Silurian carbonate–evaporite sequences of the eastern Michigan Basin, Ontario, Canada.
http://bcpg.geoscienceworld.org/content/48/4/307.abstract#fn-1
Worldwide, the chance of finding oil does not stop at the Carboniferous.

52. richard verney says:

A good article.
I have not read all the comments so apologise for any repetition of points made. My views are:
1. As you say, oil will not be running out any time soon. It is almost certainly the case that in 30 years time we will still have 40 years worth of proven reserves.
2. Proven oil reserves are under-declared for many reasons both political and financial. Therefore the 40 years worth of proven reserves is an under-estimation.
3. Estimates of unproven reserves are substantial and based upon past experience, we shall be finding new sources of reserves for the next 50 or so years. Indeed, the arctic openning up may yield much in the way of new reserves.
3. It is largely a question of economies of extraction. However, Oil will be a viable resource even at 200 or 300 dollars a barrel. Don’t forget that the price you pay at the pumps is mainly tax. If the tax was reduced (and it is levied purely for political reasons and could easily be reduced) a high barrel price would not limit consumer demand.
4. As the price goes up, the viability of extraction from more difficult fields goes up thereby increasing viable reserves, But also in this scenario, it becomes viable to extract oil from coal and coal reserves are far more substantial.
5. At some stage, but this is long in the future, the use of Oil will have to be directed to manufacturing plastics and the like.
By the time oil reserves become a problem, other energy sources will be available and those will not be wind and almost certainly not solar. We should just press on with business as usual. Technology in the end will solve any problem that we might experience some 50 or 100 years in the future.

53. Bill Illis says:

The new process of “fracking” has just doubled all the numbers (particularly for natural gas) and extended the depths that fossil fuels can be recovered from. Everyone is now trying out this technique everywhere and it is making a big difference.
Contrary to a comment above, fracking has opened up the deep oil and gas shales which can come from before the Ordovician period. The Bakken oil shale in North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan is now putting up huge production numbers (and it is from the late Devonian 360 Mya).
This is important because over the last 480 Mya, all the continents will have witnessed warm wet, shallow ocean, periods where oil and gas could have formed and been buried. It is unknown how many more deep fossil fuel fields will be found.
Look at North America’s gas shale deposits (which should be accessible now).
http://www.estatevaults.com/bol/_oil_shale_basins.jpg

54. Ed_B says:

Willis, you are way way off base. Your graph does not take into consideration that the production rate has a long tail, mostly trending flat right now, and the issue is “what price will a bbl be as Chinese demand squeezes supply into negative numbers each summer and fall as northern hemisphere demand peaks”
I think strategic petroleum reeserve releases will be the norm to try and keep a lid on prices.
Otherwise, I look to \$125 a bbl for sure, maybe \$150 a bbl within 2 years.
Yes we will have oil, but some people will not be able to afford it.
The future of the USA is Detroit, ie urban slums, unless the current President is replaced by a President willing to move the USA to natural gas transportstion.
Otherwise, the \$150 oil will strangle the economy.
Your chart does not show that.

55. William McClenney says:

You might be interested to know……….
Twenty years ago, as the first of the original 5 Environmental Auditors, Contaminated Land, appointed in Victoria Australia with state signatory power over site investigations and cleanups, I performed the first such audit for a site where the Japanese government had conducted research at a pilot plant known as BCLV (Brown Coal Liquefaction of Victoria). Brown coal being somewhere on the spectrum between peat and lignite, of which vast reserves exist within Victoria and Siberia, to name just two locales. It was here that the Japanese, as a result of the oil shock of 1974, conducted one research project as a part of their Sunshine Program, directed towards assuring a stable supply of hydrocarbon fuels other than OPEC. The pilot plant was built for a 50 ton/day throughput. At the eventual 5,000 t/d output of a full design the Japanese estimated that in Victoria alone there would be a 500 year supply for Japanese and Australian needs.
Food for thought……….

56. Lance of BC says:

We will never run out of oil it’s abiogenic and formed at the earths mantel and is being constantly produced. What we have been extracting is what you might call the “low hanging fruit”, deposits that for geological reasons have been easy access. These we are depleting with over extraction, like over use of an aquifers, there’s only so many gallons before demand is higher the supply. But technically we will never run out.
With today’s deep sea drilling we are just scratching the surface and with future technologies we will be able to get at that source better. I’m sure that won’t be running low on oil for hundreds of year, depleting our low hanging fruit yes, running out no.
That said, drilling that deep does come with real environmental risks and we should be working on other alternative energy sources(beside the reason of commodity and political interference), like making nuclear safer and cheaper. There’s also room for solar technology and can be a great alternative when applied in the right circumstances, but for large application the technology is not there yet. Even using nuclear or solar or any source(besides hybrid) for electric powered personal transportation is still pretty unpractable and way to expensive for most to use, someday maybe.
There’s also a thousand other uses for oil beside burning it in your car or heating your home, and most have made our lives easier, healthier and saved our environment from burning up every thing for fuel, so I see no reason to stop using it now!
Sorry about the abiogenic rant, I know some ardently disagree with it, but hey! 🙂

57. Jean Demesure says:

What’s not widely known is “proven reserves” estimates depend also on… regulations which can make known reserves inexploitable!
In nearly all countries, you own the land, the State owns what is beneath. If more countries had the same properties rights as the USA where landowners also own the underground, there would be much more drilling and proven reserves would be much higher.
Since this legalistic scarcity source is there to stay, it’s a certainty the age of oil will end well before the end underground oil.

58. Victor Barney says:

[snip. No religious rants, please. ~dbs, mod.]

59. DG;
News flash: production matches consumption. When more is wanted, more will be produced.
As a result of frac gas and oil, the long term trend for prices is down.
Deal.

60. PAUL SCHILIZZI says:

Don’t forget that
STONE AGE DID NOT END BECAUSE WE RAN OUT OF STONES

61. John Tofflemire says:

I remember well as a child in the mid-1960’s reading an encyclopedia printed in 1928 that boldly stated that the world would run out of oil within 20 years or so. This was stated as if it was an indisputable fact. I remembered thinking at the time that the forecast had clearly been grievously incorrect. Nearly 50 years later such predictions continue to be made and so-called intelligent people profess their belief in such predictions and their belief in the need for government to “solve” the impending “disaster”. And Malthus and his devoted followers have been predicting the imminent demise of homo sapiens since the 18th century due to overpopulation. In each case we are always told that “this time is different”, that the end is neigh. To the contrary, the end is not neigh.

62. Wyguy says:

AndyG55 says:
tokyoboy says:
Where on earth is the good ole Peak Oil??
if you look at the red line, you can see it has peaked in 2009. 😉
Wow! I see 4 peaks, must be the macular degineration.

63. Vince Causey says:

Interesting article. It is true that proven reserves always seem to be about 40 years into the future. However, Although I reject the peak oil argument, I still have a nagging doubt.
Oil prices seem to be going up, and I suppose it would be useful to see a graph of oil prices over the same period in inflation adjusted dollars. Worryingly, even though the world is in an economic slump. oil prices are stuck around \$100. This is very high. I suspect that oil prices will become a major factor limiting global glowth in the future. If oil shoots up to \$150 as soon as there is any sign that the world is moving into economic growth, that could well choke off the same growth. Very worrying.

64. Luther Wu says:

David Gould says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:45 am
Willis,
Peak oil has never been about peak oil reserves. It has been about peak oil [i]production[/i]. And your graph shows production flatlining since around 2004, which is an indication that peak oil might be upon us.

_________________________________
The entire fossil fuels market is heavily manipulated in order to keep prices inflated. With the western world in dire financial straits and demand curtailed, is it any wonder that production numbers are down?
________________________________
PaulC says:
…Old oil fields are reported as filling up after many years of being abandoned.
________________________________
Old oil fields went to water flood and other techniques as overall production declined. As many have discovered, easing off on the water flood combined with modern extraction methods allows the oil (which was already there), to flow back into the production zone from which it was forced with the water flood.
The Saudis have been engaged in water flooding for some time now.
On another note, the Germans powered their WWII schemes with synthetic fuels made from coal. Is anyone bemoaning a shortage of coal?

65. Jakehig says:

Let’s not forget the impact of improvements in recovery. The “reserves” are based on what is technically recoverable. I believe we are at +/- 30% today. That means that over twice as much oil as has ever been produced is still where it was found. We know it is there, we just have to get it out. Naturally a lot of effort is going into improving recoveries…the impact of getting just another 5 or 10% will be huge.
As has been said, the eventual decline will be slow; it is not like the end of a drink. That will encourage the switch to alternatives, both for fuel and feedstock: gas, gas liquids, gas/liquids from coal, etc..

66. Garacka says:

The abiotic oil theory is quite intriguing. My memory is that it came out in the 1940’s from someone in or tied to the oil industry, and it has largely been scoffed at and research has not been institutionally pursued.
What would widespread knowledge that oil is replenished, even if at a very small rate do to oil companies ability to get the hghest price.
What would it do to the piece of the propaganda campaign of the CAGW scaremongers where they say; “But we we’re running out of oil anyway, so we’ve got to tap the rainbow.”

67. Steve F says:

Paul C, Lucy, etc.
A few years ago when I worked for Weatherford we would do some work for a Chevron (I think it was Chevron) well located in Lysite, WY. At the time the well was over 25,000 ft deep. They are still drilling.

68. Willis
Beware the pretty R/P line fed to investors. Take a closer look at World Oil Production.
Growth: Oil production rose about 43% in the 20 years between 1985 and 2005 from 21 to 30 billion bbl/year while population grew 33% from 4.85 to 6.45 billion.
BUT
Plateau: There has been NO GROWTH in the 6 years from 2005 to 2011 (within a 6% band), while global population grew 8.5% to 7.0 billion.
Skyrocketing prices:
Since 1998, spot prices rose about 10X from \$9.8/bbl to \$98/bbl (besides spiking to \$147/bbl).
This precipitated the housing crisis, the 2008 economic crisis,and the 2010 EU crisis. In Historical Oil Shocks” 2011, James Hamilton shows:

All but one of the 11 postwar recessions were associated with an increase in
the price of oil,
the single exception being the recession of 1960. Likewise, all but one of
the 12 oil price episodes listed in Table 1 were accompanied by U.S. recessions, the
single exception being the 2003 oil price increase associated with the Venezuelan unrest
and second Persian Gulf War.

Prices DON’T t rise from an abundance of supply!
Prices are very INELASTIC: OPEC’s 5% cut in supply caused oil prices to increase 400%.
Backdating reserves: When reserves are backdated to original discovery, consumption has exceeded discovery every year since 1980 and that gap is growing.
The Reserve/Production is deceptive because of SEC reporting rules etc. When a field is first discovered, after a few wells geologists can make a good guess at the total field size. However, they only count as “reserves” the resource immediately around each well actually drilled. Thus the appearance of steadily growing “Reserves” as more wells are drilled into that same oil field discovery.
Jean Laherrere formerly with TOTAL provides the most prolific detailed graphs.
Declining Reserves/Production: Look at the bigger picture. Laherrere (2007) Fig 8 shows global Reserves/Production DECLINED 75% from about 120 during 1910-1950 down to 30 by 2010.
See Laherrere’s critique of the National Petroleum Council Draft.
Supply/Demand Models
See Steve Mohr’s Geologic Resources Supply – Demand Model (GeRS-DeMo). He provides his Excel GeRS-DeMo model free for anyone to explore the actual production depletion trends.
Declining “Available Net Exports.”
If we are swimming in oil, why did the Available Net Exports (after China & India) peak in 2005 and decline 13% since then? <a src=”http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i475/westexas/Slide08.jpg” alt=”Available Net Exports”
See westexas at TheOilDrum.com http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i475/westexas/Slide08.jpg
Current Available Net Exports are already 15 million bbl/day (5.5 billion bbl/year) BELOW Yergin’s 2005 projection. At this rate, the US and other oil importing nations will have NO oil exports available in 20 years after China & India import their rising demand.
Oil importing nations urgently need to reduce transport fuel demand and increase alternative fuels.

69. Frank K. says:

Thanks again Willis for yet another great article.
I think our reserves can be stretched even further if all of the (government-funded) climate alarmists and green activists would STOP being hypocrites and CEASE USING ANY FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY OR PETROLEUM PRODUCTS. TODAY! RIGHT NOW! That means YOU Mr. and Ms. Troll (and you know who you are). Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

70. Steve M. from TN says:

David Gould says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:45 am
Willis,
Peak oil has never been about peak oil reserves. It has been about peak oil [i]production[/i]. And your graph shows production flatlining since around 2004, which is an indication that peak oil might be upon us.
Production flatlined from 88-95 as well, but it wasn’t “peak oil.” Increase in cost could have reduced demand, causing oil companies to reduce supply. But that’s just a guess.

71. Pops says:

One thing to watch out for – I believe it came up in the context of CG 2.0 – is the political strategy of sequestering coal, oil, and natural gas resources in “national preserves” of one type or another. The motivation seems to be that when a government is unable to meet its financial obligations to e.g. The Fed or the World Bank, those preserves will be confiscated by the creditor organization, which, just by “coincidence”, will have large energy reserves that can then be exploited for power and profit. I wonder if this might be the motivation for the sanctity (among lefties) of ANWR, or the surprise (as in no public input) creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by Clinton.

72. Willis
See the detailed quantitative graphs and tables by economist James Hamilton in:
Oil Prices, Exhaustible Resources, and Economic Growth. December 9, 2011 (65 pp)

This paper explores details behind the phenomenal increase in global crude oil production over the last century and a half and the implications if that trend should be reversed. I document that a key feature of the growth in production has been exploitation of new geographic areas rather than application of better technology to existing sources, and suggest that the end of that era could come soon. The economic dislocations that historically followed temporary oil supply disruptions are reviewed, and the possible implications of that experience for what the transition era could look like are explored.

73. Andy Wehrle says:

Don K says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:01 am
“A question one might ask themselves. If there is all that oil in the world, why are oil prices so high? Market manipulation is certainly one possibility. But I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the world is producing about as much oil as it can and the reserve numbers are largely fiction. ”
Don,
Oil market prices are high, not because there is a paucity of oil, but because there is a paucity of oil refinery capacity. We simply can’t process all the crude pumped in a timely fashion.
So the root cause of scarcity and high prices is the lack of refinery capacity, not crude oil reserves.
There is a long rant about over regulation that follows my last statement – but that’s just beating a dead horse.
Andy

74. Stephen Harris says:

While there is a lot of oil remaining, the rate of extraction has been essentially flat since 2005. The world is using substantially more oil than is being found. According to industry experts and the IEA an oil crunch is coming in about 2015.
Peak oil should not be thought of as running out of oil. Rather it is running out of oil that can be profitably extracted. And that day is rapidly approaching.
Oil supply cannot keep up with demand. Even in our depressed economy oil is expensive. If the economy picks up to any appreciable degree the cost of oil will spike choking off a recovery.
For good information please go to The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre at: http://www.odac-info.org/welcome

75. See “westexas'” (Jeff Brown’s) Available Net Exports (after China & India)
Jeff Brown responded to Yergin’s There Will Be Oil

An additional metric is Available Net Exports (ANE), which we define as GNE less Chindia’s (China + India’s) combined net oil imports. ANE have fallen at an average volumetric rate of about one mbpd per year from 2005 to 2010, from about 40 mbpd in 2005 to about 35 mbpd in 2010 (BP + Minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids).
At the current rate of increase in the ratio of Chindia’s net imports to GNE, Chindia would consume 100% of GNE in about 20 years. . . .
In a November, 2004 interview in Forbes, Mr. Yergin asserted that oil prices would be back to a long term price ceiling of \$38 by late 2005–because of a steady increase in global crude oil production. It turned out that Mr. Yergin’s predicted price ceiling has so far been the price floor. The lowest monthly spot crude oil price that the EIA shows for post-November, 2004 is \$39.

76. TomL says:

Somebody said “Worldwide, the chance of finding oil does not stop at the Carboniferous.”
I certainly hope not. The Woodford shale, which is the source of most of the oil and gas in West Texas and Oklahoma, is Devonian. Oil reservoirs can be any age as long as there is geologic structure that allows the oil to migrate from the source to the reservoir. A lot of West Texas and Oklahoma oil is sourced from the Devonian Woodford and produced from older Ordovician and Silurian reservoirs, as well as younger Carboniferous and Permian reservoirs.
Abiogenic oil makes CAGW look like well established science. It doesn’t just require making a lot of assumptions about things we don’t know, it requires ignoring everything we do know about stable isotope geochemistry, organic geochemistry of source rocks, thermal history of oil and gas, and actual distribution of carbon in the earth’s mantle.

77. bill says:

A problem in discussing oil reserves is shared by the world of climate science: the statistics are dodgy. Historically they have been a mess; oil companies have interests at different times in under-reporting or over-reporting as stock price or tax issues weigh on them; sovereign states lie for various reasons; communist sovereign states always lie, and always have lied. The BP record Willis uses may be internally consistent, but it is still a construct built on half-truths, ignorance, wishful thinking and downright dishonesty. Very much like Climate Science, in fact.

78. Willis, generally your articles are quite good, but this one missed the mark, by a lot. Yes, oil will last 40 years, likely 100 years or more. But at what flow rate?
The two important measures of oil production is flow rate and ERoEI. Peak oil is, and has always been, about flow rates. The oil shock of the 1970s was caused by a mere 5% loss in production due to depletion starting in the US. It doesn’t take much of a drop in production for the demand to force prices higher, which then triggers a recession. Oil production world wide peaked in 2005 and has been on a plateau since. World oil production in 40 years will not be anywhere near what the world needs today, let alone in 40 years.
ERoEI is vital. It’s the laws of thermodynamics and cannot be sidestepped with technology. In 1960 ERoEI was 100:1. Today it is only 25:1. The Alberta Oil Sands is only 6:1 excluding downstream energy costs. Society needs at least 4:1. Once we have reached 1:1 the world has run out of oil energy, regardless of what’s in the ground.

79. Garacka says:
December 14, 2011 at 5:21 am
The abiotic oil theory is quite intriguing. My memory is that it came out in the 1940′s from someone in or tied to the oil industry, and it has largely been scoffed at and research has not been institutionally pursued.
———
Oil molecules have a close resemblance to animal lips. Abiotic oil was debunked long ago.
http://static.scribd.com/docs/j79lhbgbjbqrb.pdf

80. OldOne says:

Yes, the abiogenic theory of oil is interesting. I do see some parallels to the climate change controversy. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising since it also goes against the “consensus” view.
Here are a couple more links to explore:
http://bit.ly/tmosA3
http://bit.ly/votK01

81. Bill Illis says:
December 14, 2011 at 4:32 am
The new process of “fracking” has just doubled all the numbers (particularly for natural gas) and extended the depths that fossil fuels can be recovered from. Everyone is now trying out this technique everywhere and it is making a big difference.
Contrary to a comment above, fracking has opened up the deep oil and gas shales which can come from before the Ordovician period. The Bakken oil shale in North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan is now putting up huge production numbers (and it is from the late Devonian 360 Mya).
——-
Bakken’s production is only 450,000 b/day. Though rising, it won’t last. Yes it is a huge deposit, but because of the geology total production from Bakken won’t surpass 1% of what’s in the ground there.

82. Alberta Slim says:

Les Francis says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:35 am
Paul C. Oil geologists know roughly where to look for the oil. It doesn’t appear at lower levels in the earths crust dated pre the Carboniferous Period. There are some deposits at levels dating to the age of the dinosaurs.
There is no sense exploring earths layers that are deeper than the Carboniferous period – there’s no oil to be found…………………………………………..
Les, your opinion on Peak Oil, sounds like an Alarmist and CO2.
PaulC says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:41 am ………
Fredrick Lightfoot says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:53 am …..
Mike Borgelt says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:58 am …….
and don’t forget Lucy Skywalker….
Aboitic oil has not been debunked yet, or shouldn’t be.
http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/energy-intelligence/2011/09/14/abiotic-oil-a-theory-worth-exploring

83. meemoe_uk says:
December 14, 2011 at 3:11 am
thanks Willis, this underpins the key idea from which peakoil doomers keep themselves in suspended hysteria. Oil companys only ever bother prooving about 20-30 years worth of future oil reserves. The peakoil gang misinterpret this as ‘ only 20-30 years worth of oil left ! ‘ , which combined with their bell curve mean that ‘peak oil is now ! ‘ – always.
I was a peakoi doomer for a couple of years 2006 – 2008. I noticed the day of reckoning keep slipping forward, which spurred a critical review of my belief.
——
Production from any given field increases to a maximum extraction rate. Once that is reached production does not fall off to zero the next day. It follows a bell curve. Peak oil is not the point of no more oil, it’s the point of that peak in production. This is where we are now. We have peaked in world wide production.

84. Pamela Gray says:

The reserve figure is used to determine barrel price and profit margin, not to determine actual reserves. R&D within each company needs money to find new and improved ways to use fossil based products and it can’t come out of stock dividends. So the reserve margin is used to justify an inflated price so that money is available for research without pissing off stock holders who remain spoiled on some kind of double digit return for their investment.

85. Don K says:

Garacka says:
December 14, 2011 at 5:21 am
The abiotic oil theory is quite intriguing. My memory is that it came out in the 1940′s from someone in or tied to the oil industry, and it has largely been scoffed at and research has not been institutionally pursued.
==========
Thomas Gold — an Austrian astrophysicist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gold A decade or so ago, I used to lurk on a forum inhabited by, among others, petroleum geologists. After the continental drift fiasco where Geologists rejected an important theory proposed by a non-geologist (Alfred Wegner) that turned out to be pretty much correct, geologists are a little more polite and humble than, say, climate scientists. But although they treat Gold’s theory politely, none of them believe that any of the oil/coal currently being produced is abiotic. Because of the high temps within the Earth, it seems likely that any “deep hydrocarbons” would be present as gas, not oil. And there is no evidence that I am aware of that any natural gas deposits currently known are abiotic.

86. Can tar sand and shale be added to a similar chart?
It’s a great summary piece, thank Willis for posting it.

87. ianl8888 says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:49 am
@Willis E
This touches on one of my professional interests
It is true that both private and Govt organisations (eg. OPEC, Russia) routinely restrict (censor) hard data on oil Resources and Reserves (gold and other minerals as well). This is done for “national security” reasons. It is almost impossible to access accurate, reliable geological/engineering data on these … hence your 40 year “magic pudding” (R)
———–
This is true for a number of regions, like Saudi Arabia who over the past 20 years or production continue to claim they have the exact same reserves. Impossible of course. The teltail sign of production potential is current production rates and what fields are in tertiary recovery (like Ghawar is). Fact is the worlds largest fields are all in terminal decline in production. North Sea, Cantarell (peaked a 3.2mb/day now at 400,000 b/day), even off the east coast of Canada, which peaked quickly and is in terminal decline (currently half of what it produced at peak).
———–
The future rate of extraction (P) depends on the future rate of consumption. We would need to predict with accuracy the future consumption of China and India over the next 50 years to be in the hunt for a reliable estimate of P. Not much hope of accuracy here, I believe
—————
China surpased the US in auto production last year. 13 million cars in one year, and they have only dented the potential market. If anything China has the potential to outstrip the US in consumption within 10 to 15 years. The IEA estimates that the world will need some 120bb/day by 2020. They also state that we would need to find 7 Ghawars each year until then for that to happen.
————
Whenever Peak Oil advocates rear their wishful thinking (Peak Oil is almost always used to scare people), I list out these two factual questions and inquire whether they have reliable answers. Then the only reply is dead silence
———–
Not from me.

88. Now, at some point this party has to slow down, nothing goes on forever

True….
But the thing about expert projections are that they are always wrong…
And the 40 years left party could just keep on rocking until the end of time.

The abiogenic hypothesis argues that petroleum was formed from deep carbon deposits, perhaps dating to the formation of the Earth. Supporters of the abiogenic hypothesis suggest that a great deal more petroleum exists on Earth than commonly thought, and that petroleum may originate from carbon-bearing fluids that migrate upward from the mantle. The presence of methane on Saturn’s moon Titan and in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune is cited[1] as evidence of the formation of hydrocarbons without biology.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiotic_petroleum

89. MarkW says:

Robber says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:57 am
—-
You didn’t read the article, did you?
The point is that the 40 years of reserve number has held constant for at least the last 40 years.
It is incorrect to assume that just because, at this moment, there is an estimated 40 years of proven reserves, that we will run out of oil in 40 years.
All the oil that has been found but not proven is not included in that number.
All the oil that has not been found is also not included in that number.

90. PaulC says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:41 am
Good article.
2 points of comment.
Modern technology will always find more reserves than old technology.
Oil is not a “fossil” fuel. It is being “created” continually by reactions in the Earths’ interior.
Posts on this site have mentioned this a few times. Apparently the Russians are investigating this seriously.
There are no fossils associated with Oil.Oil comes from the bottom to the up. Old oil fields are reported as filling up after many years of being abandoned
Worth following up.
————-
Please point us to one oil field that has definite abiotic origin.
Every single oil field has been traced back to the biogenic source rocks.
If abiotic oil were true, there would be oil deposits in precambrian rocks. There are none.
Read the book Oil 101 for details of how oil is formed.
BTW, EVERY Russian oil field has a biogenic source.

91. Ken Harvey says:

In the highly unlikely event that we start running out of oil in forty years’ time, we then have another resource of such magnitude that it has rarely been touched except in close proximity to an iron ore deposit and a rail system. That resource is called coal. There are massive deposits that have been known of for many decades. There are no technical problems whatever. All that is necessary to make these deposits exploitable (or just the few that would be necessary) is demand, capital and railway lines. The end is not nigh and won’t be forty years hence.

92. MarkW says:

David Gould says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:45 am
Willis,
And your graph shows production flatlining since around 2004,

It could also be an indication that the world wide economy has been pretty much flat since 2004.
Production never exceeds demand. You are confusing a lack of growth in demand for a lack of growth in production.

93. MarkW says:

Recent price increases in oil can have been caused by the collapse in the value of the dollar.

94. MarkW says:

Is anyone bemoaning a shortage of coal?

Don’t give them any ideas.

95. John West says:

PAUL SCHILIZZI says:
Don’t forget that
STONE AGE DID NOT END BECAUSE WE RAN OUT OF STONES

but, but, but, the bronze age…no not that one either, … the iron age … no …
/sarc
Good point!

96. John Tofflemire says:
December 14, 2011 at 5:11 am
I remember well as a child in the mid-1960′s reading an encyclopedia printed in 1928 that boldly stated that the world would run out of oil within 20 years or so. This was stated as if it was an indisputable fact. I remembered thinking at the time that the forecast had clearly been grievously incorrect. Nearly 50 years later such predictions continue to be made and so-called intelligent people profess their belief in such predictions and their belief in the need for government to “solve” the impending “disaster”. And Malthus and his devoted followers have been predicting the imminent demise of homo sapiens since the 18th century due to overpopulation. In each case we are always told that “this time is different”, that the end is neigh. To the contrary, the end is not neigh.

Nay, indeed, it’s not nigh. So you can neigh (horse-laugh) at the neos.

97. Don K says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:31 am
If abiotic oil were true, there would be oil deposits in precambrian rocks. There are none.
===================
Let me make it clear that I am not a believer in “deep oil”. I think there is a small chance that there is a very little abiotic oil and, perhaps slightly more likely, a small amount of abiotic gas. I’d be really surprised if either amounts to much economically.
That said, algae have been around a long time and there are hydrocarbon traces in some precambrian rocks — e.g. in Australia’s MacArthur basin. So far as I know, the (biotic)
oil in rocks up to 1.7 Billion years old is not present in commercially exploitable quantities and is of interest only to a few scientists. But it is present. I believe the reason there is not more of it is that there are very few preCambrian rocks around that have not been bent, folded, spindled, cooked and extensively mutilated.

98. To all the abiotic oil deniers: I assume you await with bated breath the first geologic explorations of Titan, to unearth (untitan?) the fossils of the alien ferns and multi-colored algae etc. that decomposed into its lakes of hydrocarbons!
Until then, ….

99. Curiousgeorge says:

Production and sale of oil, like natural diamonds, is rationed by those who own the resource in order to fetch the highest profit the market will bear. Same as with anything else.

100. MarkG says:

I remember when I was a kid in the 70s that oil was going to run out before the year 2000 so we must do something to switch to alternate energy supplies before then.
The odd thing about ‘Peak Oil’ is that so many of the ‘Peak Oil’-ers I’ve met are also firm believers in AGW, which makes no sense if oil is about to run out. I can only presume they’ve never met a scare story they don’t like.

101. Doug says:

Nice post Willis. As usual, there is some good info in the comments, as well as some people who are compelled to post on something about which they have little knowledge.
Oil is biotic in origin. Anyone who looks at enough geochemical data will agree, even the current Russians. Oil does occur below the Carboniferous. Most of my oil income is from the Ordovician.
The parallels to peak oil and climate change are not in that consensus is wrong on origin, they are in the fact that peak oil is built upon faulty mathematics. The esteemed Hubbert’s curve is now off by 10 fold for US gas, and well on the way to similar error bars in oil.

102. ferd berple says:

Christopher Hanley says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:59 am
Forgive me for sounding a melancholy note. Forty years is not a long time.
In forty years – 2050 – world oil supplies will be projected to last 40 years – until 2090.
Why? Because once reserves reach a certain size it doesn’t pay to do any more exploration. What possible use is it to an oil company to have a million years of reserves? It only hurts the market price of oil.
As reserves drop, the price of oil goes up, and exploration expands increasing reserves.

103. ChrisH says:

Slightly off topic but the UK Daily Mail Newspaper is currently running a poll on “Should be build more wind turbines to cut carbon emissions?”
To vote go to:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/polls/poll.html?pollId=1029654
The wind industry seems to have been able to load the voting so let’s redress the balance.

104. Mark says:

While we all understand the need for alternative sources for transportation, let’s understand that the products that come from a barrel of oil stay standard. Specifically, a barrel of oil usually yields 44-45% gasoline products. There isn’t much to do with this ‘product’ other than use it for transportation. Don’t forget….when Titusville, PA hit, they were refining the oil for lamp oil. The ‘gasoline’ BY-product was dumped into the rivers and streams because there was not a use for it until the automobile was developed. So where there is oil there will always be transportation fuel.

105. I would be very curious to know that if the full continents of South America, Africa & Asia (including offshore) were really explored, how much more oil/gas/shale resources would they find to add to the ‘proven reserves’? I’m sure there are a whole bunch of places they have not looked.
Also, would oil/gas be available in the mid-ocean (off the continental shelf regions) as well?
Jeff

106. Dave Springer says:

@Willis
“Now, at some point this party has to slow down, nothing goes on forever … but the data shows we certainly don’t need to hurry to replace oil with solar energy or rainbow energy or wind energy in the next few decades. We have plenty of time for the market to indicate the replacement.”
Typically naive. I have cars and motorcycles older than the number of years of petroleum left to power them. Life is short. Several decades goes by quickly. It’s not like we’re talking 400 years we’re talking 40 years.
You don’t seem to have any appreciation for how large the infrastructure is for things powered by gasoline, diesel, and avgas. That infrastructure took decades to build and deploy. It will take as long to replace it with something else. We’re talking trillions upon trillions of dollars in infrastructure.
Consider the end-to-end supply chain for avgas and the air cargo/passenger transportation fleet. Not only is the money bound up in that alone huge and growing there is nothing that can replace it. There are no alternatives. Imagine civilization without air transport. Imagine a million useless airports and 100 million employees in the air transport industry without jobs and all the ancillary jobs like at Boeing and their contractors without jobs.
Nor do you have any appreciation for what happens to the price of commodities that are nearing exhaustion. Do you think gasoline is going to top out at USD \$5/gal until the last drop? The globe is mired in the worst recession in 75 years and there’s not a doubt in my mind that the root cause was oil price which in 1998 began rising from \$20/bbl to eventually well over \$100/bbl where it remains today. Just about every recession since WWII was preceded by a dramatic rise in oil price. I’m not sure how many decades it will take to adjust to \$100/bbl oil but it isn’t looking good after the first ten years of prices over \$30/bbl. And there’s no end in sight. No light at the end of the tunnel. That light you see in the distance is another train rushing headlong at us.
Nor do you seem to appreciate the fact that demand is growing and consumption is increasing so that 40-year supply is only 40-years at current rate of consumption.
Nor do you seem to appreciate that we had an oil shock some 30 odd years ago. That was a wakeup call. How much have we got done in those 30 years towards a vital, reliable alternative energy supply and infracstructure for it? I’ll give you three chances to say there’s been no significant progress. We’re even more dependent today on oil than we were in 1979 and worse we’re dependent on foreign oil bought from countries that hate western democracy. Isn’t that a fine mess?
So basically, Willis, you are a classic example of fiddling while Rome burns.

107. kbray in california says:

[[[ MarkW says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:43 am
Recent price increases in oil can have been caused by the collapse in the value of the dollar.]]]
The Dollar is still strong in my neighborhood…
I can still buy a hamburger for 99 cents, it’s been that way for years and years.
The price of oil is manipulated.
A Chevron Exec. said so.

108. mondo says:

Willis,
A very interesting question to ask the oil majors (BP for example) is “the concept of ‘Reserves’ is an economic concept, meaning that portion of ‘Resources’ that can be economically extracted at a particular oil price. What oil price has been used to calculate the Reserves that you publish.”
For some reason, the oil companies are very reluctant to disclose that number. Some years ago, when I asked BP at their annual public presentation on oil reserves, they declined to answer. A retired oil industry executive was able to tell me that he knew that they had used a price of US25 per bbl, when the actual price was trading in the US\$70 range.
Of course, if you use a price of, say, US\$100 to calculate economic reserves, many of the alternative sources such as tar sands, oil shale, coal to oil conversion etc become economic, thus dramatically increasing available ‘Reserves’.
On another point, it has seemed to me that all the US has to do to ensure domestic oil supply security is to offer a guaranteed price of, say, \$75 per bbl, for a period of, say, 20 years, to emerging projects. Companies other than the oil majors can find it difficult to source funding to develop projects involving alternative sources due to capital intensive nature of such projects, and bad experiences in the past when such projects coming on stream caused an oversupply resulting in prices as low as US\$10 per bbl, Low prices resulted in financial carnage. This can easily be sidestepped by providing a guaranteed price for 20 years. I would have thought that such an approach would be sensible and politically acceptable. The mechanisms can be worked out.

109. Dave Springer says:

MarkW says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:43 am
“Recent price increases in oil can have been caused by the collapse in the value of the dollar.”
This is true to only a small degree. Oil was \$20/bbl in 1998. Ten years later it topped \$100/bbl and still flirts with that price point today. The value of the dollar didn’t collapse to \$0.20 in those ten years. Not even close. Try again.

110. ferd berple says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:31 am
If abiotic oil were true, there would be oil deposits in precambrian rocks. There are none.
This doesn’t prove oil is abiotic or biotic, only that solid rock does not hold oil or gas.
Oil and gas move upwards through rocks until they reach the surface, unless trapped by a structure underground. This happens because oil and gas are less dense than both rock and water. To accumulate, oil and gas need a porous structure with a impermeable cap. Sedimentary rocks provide this structure. Precambrian rocks do not, because they are solid rock. Thus, oil and gas are not found in precambrian rocks, because it is physically impossible.
So for example, Alberta has oil because it was at one time an ocean, and the sediments that were laid down formed reservoirs to trap the oil and gas released from deeper within the earth. The source of that oil and gas is open to question. It is hydrocarbon. Most of the carbon on earth is trapped in rocks at the bottom of the ocean. These rocks along with water are carried deep within the earth by subduction, where they are cooked under heat and pressure. It is possible that the carbon in the rocks and hydrogen in the water combine to form hydrocarbons. while the oxygen in water combines with the rocks to form oxides.
Most people assume that most of the water on earth is held by the oceans – sort of like giant swimming pools. This is not true. The oceans are simply where the water table in the earth’s crust and mantle is higher than the level of the land. We don’t know how much water is actually held by the earth and how deep it extends within the earth. The deeper you go within the earth, the higher the pressure, the higher the boiling point of water. Can super heated, super pressurized water combine with carbon bearing rocks to form hydrocarbons and oxides?

111. Lance of BC says:

Just to add fuel to the fire(hehe) on abiogenic oil, here`s Vladimir G. Kutcherov paper
Abstract
There is widespread evidence that petroleum originates from biological processes1, 2, 3. Whether hydrocarbons can also be produced from abiogenic precursor molecules under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions characteristic of the upper mantle remains an open question. It has been proposed that hydrocarbons generated in the upper mantle could be transported through deep faults to shallower regions in the Earth’s crust, and contribute to petroleum reserves4, 5. Here we use in situ Raman spectroscopy in laser-heated diamond anvil cells to monitor the chemical reactivity of methane and ethane under upper-mantle conditions. We show that when methane is exposed to pressures higher than 2 GPa, and to temperatures in the range of 1,000–1,500 K, it partially reacts to form saturated hydrocarbons containing 2–4 carbons (ethane, propane and butane) and molecular hydrogen and graphite. Conversely, exposure of ethane to similar conditions results in the production of methane, suggesting that the synthesis of saturated hydrocarbons is reversible. Our results support the suggestion that hydrocarbons heavier than methane can be produced by abiogenic processes in the upper mantle.
Full paper to be found at the bottom on link
http://peakoil.com/forums/nature-geoscience-study-abiogenic-oil-and-gas-forever-t55857-30.html#p958045

112. harrywr2 says:

As Willis alluded to –
‘Peak Anything’ is a matter of economics.
We used to generate our electricity, heat most of our homes and drive around in 6 MPG cars all using oil.
We don’t generate much electricity from oil anymore, most homes are heated with natural gas and only the rich can afford to drive a car that only gets 6 MPG.
US Oil consumption today is pretty close to what it was in the late 1970’s, considering we have 80 million more people I would say demand is ‘flat’
http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/analysis_publications/oil_market_basics/dem_image_us_cons_sector.htm

113. DirkH says:

Dave Springer says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:38 am
“You don’t seem to have any appreciation for how large the infrastructure is for things powered by gasoline, diesel, and avgas. That infrastructure took decades to build and deploy. It will take as long to replace it with something else. We’re talking trillions upon trillions of dollars in infrastructure. ”
You mention “Diesel, gasoline and avgas”. You should have included CNG and LPG. Refitting a gasoline car to LPG costs 2500 EUR. A bit more for refitting CNG. Germany has 6000+ gas stations that also offer LPG, and 900+ that also offer CNG.
What was the problem, again?

114. Dave Springer says:

Mike Borgelt says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:58 am
“Oh good, Les Francis. Now please tell us why there are heaps of hydrocarbons on Titan.”
For the same reason there is a huge fusing ball of hydrogen at the center of the solar system. It’s primordial. For better or worse the inner planets and moons got stripped of most of their free light elements by the heat of the sun and strength of the solar wind and, as a consequence, they are rocky/metallic things.
Did you really not know that?

115. alerodriguez69 says:

The text is very addequate. Anyway, I think you should say that the scale for the World Oil Production is nor the left or the right one… or better, please give the scale for the production. Otherwise, the plot is misleading.

Re: Dave Springer on December 14, 2011 at 7:38 am:
Okay, Springer has unloaded the ‘Willis, you’re so ignorant and stupid, you don’t know how ignorant and stupid you are’ rant that I was expecting and waiting for, this time without the added ‘drug-addled war-dodging hippie’ flavorings. Since it’s highly unlikely anything will be said in the comments that will warrant the altering of Willis’ basic yet reasoned post, guess I can stop reading now.
😉

117. malagaview says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:28 am
Now, at some point this party has to slow down, nothing goes on forever
True….
But the thing about expert projections are that they are always wrong…
And the 40 years left party could just keep on rocking until the end of time.
——
Not one oil field can be shown to be of abiotic. EVERY oil field has a biological source rock.

118. JKrob says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:37 am
I would be very curious to know that if the full continents of South America, Africa & Asia (including offshore) were really explored, how much more oil/gas/shale resources would they find to add to the ‘proven reserves’? I’m sure there are a whole bunch of places they have not looked.
Also, would oil/gas be available in the mid-ocean (off the continental shelf regions) as well?
Jeff
———-
Except for the Arctic, the entire planet has been searched. The big easy fields have all be found and exploited.
There wont be oil beyond the continental shelfs, wrong geology. Oil deposits are mostly from shallow marine ecosystems. Explained in the book Oil 101.

119. OldOne says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:31 am
“Please point us to one oil field that has definite abiotic origin.
Every single oil field has been traced back to the biogenic source rocks.
If abiotic oil were true, there would be oil deposits in precambrian rocks. There are none.”

I found this:
The Drilling & Development of the Oil & Gas Fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk Basin
V. A. Krayushkin, T. I. Tchebanenko, V. P. Klochko, Ye. S. Dvoryanin
Institute of Geological Sciences
O. Gonchara Street 55-B, 01054 Kiev, Ukraine
J. F. Kenney
Russian Academy of Sciences – Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth, Moscow, Russia
Gas Resources Corporation, 11811 North Parkway, Houston, TX 77060, U.S.A.
“The specific formations and depths from which petroleum has been discovered and is now being produced are as follow: …
2.) Production from the Precambrian crystalline basement: In addition to these reservoirs in the sedimentary rock, above, the exploration drilling has discovered five reservoirs in the Precambrian crystalline basement rock complex …
laboratory analyses are described here briefly. …
3.) Bacteriological analysis of the oil and the examination for so-called “biological marker” molecules: The oil produced from the reservoirs in the crystalline basement rock of the Dnieper-Donets Basin has been examined particularly closely for the presence of either porphyrin molecules or “biological marker” molecules, the presence of which used to be misconstrued as “evidence” of a supposed biological origin for petroleum. None of the oil contains any such molecules, even at the ppm level.”
“These results, taken either individually or together, confirm the scientific conclusions that the oil and natural gas found both in the Precambrian crystalline basement and the sedimentary cover of the Northern Monoclinal Flank of the Dnieper-Donets Basin are of deep, and abiotic, origin.”
Source: http://www.gasresources.net/DDBflds2.htm

120. Brian H says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:11 am
To all the abiotic oil deniers: I assume you await with bated breath the first geologic explorations of Titan, to unearth (untitan?) the fossils of the alien ferns and multi-colored algae etc. that decomposed into its lakes of hydrocarbons!
Until then, ….
——-
There is no oil on Titan.

121. Tom Jones says:

The issue missing from the chart is the cost of oil. For a sufficient price, the supply of oil is infinite. You can always synthesize it from solar energy and raw inputs. Guess who gets priced out of the market? It isn’t the advanced economies. The emerging economies get to sit on their hands while we figure it out, or do something less friendly with them. There are going to be a lot of fireworks long before we use the last drop of oil, or the last pound of phosphate, or the last of any natural resource.

122. Tim Ball says:

Peak oil is a political construct for the time. Those opposed to use of fossil fuels argue we should stop now because we are going to run out soon anyway. Producers can use it to say the costs are increasing so they charge more. It confirms the adage that politics makes strange bedfellows.
The entire issue will disappear because it developed out of the false premise that CO2 was causing planet destroying runaway global warming. The science created to support the politics is now exposed mostly by the failed predictions (projections) and only politics is left as COP 17 in Durban showed.
Climate as a vehicle for a political agenda is failing so the attention is turning back to more emotional and classic vehicles. First is the original Malthusian claim of population outgrowing resources with the recent claim that world population topping 7 billion is seen as a peak beyond which the natural world will collapse. Second is water, an even more emotional vehicle and one at the centre of the Club of Rome list and the focus of UN dynamics in the 1970s. Proof that this issue will be a political vehicle is because they are starting to talk about “peak water”. http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2011/09/07/is-the-u-s-reaching-peak-water/
As with oil, the business world and the extreme environmentalists will ride the same vehicle.

123. Doug says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:17 am
Nice post Willis. As usual, there is some good info in the comments, as well as some people who are compelled to post on something about which they have little knowledge.
Oil is biotic in origin. Anyone who looks at enough geochemical data will agree, even the current Russians. Oil does occur below the Carboniferous. Most of my oil income is from the Ordovician.
The parallels to peak oil and climate change are not in that consensus is wrong on origin, they are in the fact that peak oil is built upon faulty mathematics. The esteemed Hubbert’s curve is now off by 10 fold for US gas, and well on the way to similar error bars in oil.
———-
Then you misunderstand a Hubbert curve. It’s not about what’s in the ground, it’s about flow rates. He was bang on with the US. Shale gas and oil will be short lived, have low flow rates, and have low ERoEI. Production from those locations won’t offset depletion from aging fields.

124. Steve Keohane says:

Now I understand what the O-man is doing. Reduce production to zero and we have infinite reserves! Brilliant. /sarc
Thanks Willis.
Dave Springer says:December 14, 2011 at 7:38 am
@Willis[…]So basically, Willis, you are a classic example of fiddling while Rome burns.

Lighten up Dave! It’s not like we’re not going to find any more oil, or make no breakthroughs on technology to use other energy sources.

125. ferd berple says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:49 am
jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:31 am
If abiotic oil were true, there would be oil deposits in precambrian rocks. There are none.
This doesn’t prove oil is abiotic or biotic, only that solid rock does not hold oil or gas.
Oil and gas move upwards through rocks until they reach the surface, unless trapped by a structure underground. This happens because oil and gas are less dense than both rock and water. To accumulate, oil and gas need a porous structure with a impermeable cap. Sedimentary rocks provide this structure. Precambrian rocks do not, because they are solid rock. Thus, oil and gas are not found in precambrian rocks, because it is physically impossible.
So for example, Alberta has oil because it was at one time an ocean, and the sediments that were laid down formed reservoirs to trap the oil and gas released from deeper within the earth. The source of that oil and gas is open to question. It is hydrocarbon. Most of the carbon on earth is trapped in rocks at the bottom of the ocean. These rocks along with water are carried deep within the earth by subduction, where they are cooked under heat and pressure. It is possible that the carbon in the rocks and hydrogen in the water combine to form hydrocarbons. while the oxygen in water combines with the rocks to form oxides.
Most people assume that most of the water on earth is held by the oceans – sort of like giant swimming pools. This is not true. The oceans are simply where the water table in the earth’s crust and mantle is higher than the level of the land. We don’t know how much water is actually held by the earth and how deep it extends within the earth. The deeper you go within the earth, the higher the pressure, the higher the boiling point of water. Can super heated, super pressurized water combine with carbon bearing rocks to form hydrocarbons and oxides?
————
The abioitic process cannot produce bitumen. Read up on the Oil Window. It’s too hot down there for large hydrocarbon chains. Every oil field in Alberta has a biological source rock, deturmined by chemical markers. Not one field shows an abiotic origin.
BTW, much of the precambrian Metasedementary Belt Boundary Zone of the Grenville Province in Ontario, once marine, spaning over to Norway, has any oil in it.

126. Jeremy says:

Peak Oil is total BS.
We will never run out.
So far, we have been merely tapping large pools of oil that are trapped in permeable layers. This stuff has oozed out or source rocks (large shales) over tens of thousands of years.
As Oil has now reached \$100+ we can now look to actual source rocks themselves and extract oil from those layers too. There are thousands more source rock layers than there are strati-graphically or structural trapped oil pools. We can also look to converting coal to liquid fuels also (by most estimates there is at least 600 years worth of coal left).
Extremely or ridiculously cheap oil is starting to become scarce that is all. This is a combination of rising demand and the extreme government restrictions (high taxes & royalties, regulations and extremely limited access to reserves) placed on Oil companies by every country. Remember that your morning cup of coffee costs far more than the equivalent in gasoline and that most of what is built into the price you pay for gasoline is government take (various forms of taxation).

127. SP Wells says:

Seems to me there is a larger question than how much oil we have left. What about the damage being done to our environment by using fossil fuels and living in a plastic state of mind. PCBs are even in breast milk now. While I do not agree with fear mongering, I do think we need to stop being in denial about what we are doing. We are not working towards sustainability, but rather, how much time to we have left to keep doing things in the same old way. We need innovators–movers and shakers in the energy field. We have 8 billion people on the planet to house, feed and provide water to. Sustainability is not just about the United States, although it seems impossible to glimpse our own narcissism.

128. Doug says:

Oldone: Read this article too. Perhaps there is another opinion on the basin, Sounds like some Russian authors.
Palaeozoic source rocks in the Dniepr–Donets Basin, Ukraine
Reinhard F. Sachsenhofer1,*,
Viacheslav A. Shymanovskyy2,
Achim Bechtel1,
Reinhard Gratzer1,
Brian Horsfield3 and
Doris Reischenbacher1
+ Author Affiliations
1 Department of Applied Geosciences and Geophysics, University of Leoben, Peter-Tunner-Str. 5, A-8700 Leoben, Austria
2Shell Ukraine E&P, Rylskogo Lane 6, UA-01025 Kyiv, Ukraine
3GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Section 4.3, Telegrafenberg, B 424, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
*↵ Corresponding author (e-mail: Reinhard.Sachsenhofer@unileoben.ac.at)
Abstract
ABSTRACT The Dniepr–Donets Basin (DDB) is a major petroleum province in Eastern Europe. In order to understand the regional and stratigraphic distribution of source rocks for the dominantly gas-prone petroleum system, 676 fine-grained rocks from 30 wells were analysed for bulk parameters (total organic carbon (TOC), carbonate, sulphur, RockEval). A subset of samples was selected for maceral and biomarker analysis, pyrolysis-gas chromatography and kinetic investigations. Organic-rich sediments occur in different intervals within the basin fill. Maximum TOC contents (5.0 ± 1.9%) occur in the Rudov Beds, several tens of metres thick. The oil-prone rocks (Type III–II kerogen) were deposited in basinal settings above an unconformity separating Lower and Upper Visean sections. While maximum TOC contents occur in the Rudov Beds, high TOC contents are observed in the entire Tournaisian and Visean section. However, these rocks are mainly gas condensate-prone. Highly oil-prone black shales with up to 16% TOC and hydrogen index values up to 550 mgHC g–1TOC occur in Serpukhovian intervals in the northwestern part of the DDB

129. We are not likely to replace oil with wind or solar regardless. We don’t USE oil to produce electricity anymore. Heating oil however, could be replaced with gas or heat pumps (electricity).

130. Jeremy says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:48 am
Peak Oil is total BS.
We will never run out.
So far, we have been merely tapping large pools of oil that are trapped in permeable layers. This stuff has oozed out or source rocks (large shales) over tens of thousands of years.
As Oil has now reached \$100+ we can now look to actual source rocks themselves and extract oil from those layers too. There are thousands more source rock layers than there are strati-graphically or structural trapped oil pools. We can also look to converting coal to liquid fuels also (by most estimates there is at least 600 years worth of coal left).
————-
You need to read Oil 101 to understand how oil is formed and migrates from source rocks.

131. JPeden says:

Steve Keohane says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:35 am
Now I understand what the O-man is doing. Reduce production to zero and we have infinite reserves! Brilliant. /sarc
Yes, the latte’ Commies love scarcity. If it’s not there, they produce it, whether wittingly, unwittingly, or half-wittedly. That’s why they never create wealth but instead only appropriate and destroy it. Scarcity is also the necessary result of Obamacare. Dr. “Zeke” Emmanuel, Rahm’s brother and a key advisor to Obama, was salivating at the prospect of redistributing healthcare as a scarce item well before Obamacare, because people like him were going to get to dole it out according to their brilliant management skills “complete life” metric whims. While, of course, they saw no necessity to ever enter their own “complete life” values = Zero to Debit amount, into these same equations.
Right, “Communism is dead, long live Communism!”

132. The R/P graph represents the oil sector’s supply chain best practices. It gives stability to the market place. It cannot be used to predict flows ‘cuz it assumes production falls to “zero” in the 46th year. In reality, extraction takes the form of a bell curve. This is derived by estimating demand and bottom-up flows and reconciling them with OOIP (original oil in place) of 19 trillion barrels (Tb), URR/EUR (ultimately economic recoverable resource) of 8 Tb and proved reserves of 1.256 Tb. Technology advancements and secular price increases allow more OOIP to be converted to URR & in turn some URR to proved reserves. In general, each \$1/barrel increase adds 30-Gb to URR.
Should oil production seek its natural Geologic Peak (based on long-term demand trend), oil would rise to 105 Mbd in 2030. In reality, the demand growth rate has been waning in recent years and it appears the sector will face a leveling off and ultimate Demand Peak of 100 Mbd in 2029. The main forcing for a dampening of the Consumption growth rate is rising prices. The growth rate will level upon oil surpassing \$213/barrel. The threshold is determined by a definitive petroleum/GDP ratio that tracks demand destruction. It was represented by \$90 in 2007. Today it is \$103/barrel and rises with time (and GDP).
Present resource implies of conventional and non-conv reserves will run out in five hundred years. After that point, there will be an infinite plateau of 6 Mbd BTL (renewable biofuels). Charts of URR, future prices and a depiction of the five century production profile are updated monthly by Trendlines Research: http://www.trendlines.ca/free/peakoil

We didn’t leave the stone age because we ran out of stones, and we won’t leave the fossil fuel age because we run out of fossil fuels.
By the way, Iraq had virtually no exploration whilst Sadam was in power-why would you-when you would have to fix social issues, rather than just build another palace for yourself.
And your graphs above don’t count oil shale and tar sands, of which there is vastly more resources than conventional oil.
And for minerals its even more extensive, since minerals are produced by the earth’s crust-they are virtually inexhaustible-we will only run out of e.g. Al, Cu, Au, Mn, Ni, Fe etc etc when we run out of rocks.
A general rule of thumb is: for each 10% lower grade, we have around 3-10 times more resources of that mineral, ie for gold we have about 3 times as much at 0.9ppm Au as we do for 1.0ppm Au, and 9 times as much at 0.8ppm Au as we do at 1.0ppm Au, and so on-the increase with each lowering of grade is exponential, for this reason we will never ‘run out’ of gold, and nearly all other minerals as well (soemthing Elrich and the Club of Rome could never understand). (There is a paper on the ‘resource pyramid’ ie how the size of resources increases with each lowering of grade-by the USGS which explains and is highly recommended, yet every once in a while we hear someone (usually an academic without any minerals training) warning us that we will ‘run out’ of this mineral or that, and because they are ‘non renewable’. (Something can be non renewable, but virtually inexhaustible, and renewable but very limited (a concept the greens never mention)).
There are vast resources of copper for example at about 0.6% Cu which are not being mined now because they don’t compete with what is being mined currently at about 0.8% Cu. But when the 0.8% Cu runs out, there will be about 9 times as much available at 0.6% Cu. Hundreds of years worth, in fact, and thousands of years worth at 0.4% Cu.
The only exception to this general rule, is those minerals not produced by crustal procesees, such as fossil fuels, which are much more limited because they are organically derived, not crustally derived.

134. Doug says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:31 am
Then you misunderstand a Hubbert curve. It’s not about what’s in the ground, it’s about flow rates.
————–
Actually I understand Hubbert’s work just fine. He is now off 10 fold on gas FLOW RATES in the US.
And please, stop setting up absurd premises such as “we need to find seven Ghawars a year”. All we need to do is keep getting a percent or two more recovery factor from all the existing fields every so often, find some giant deepwater fields, prove up a few billion in old fields like Wattenberg through new technology, apply horizontal drilling to liquid prone shales etc. That is exactly what we are doing, at economical costs and realistic energy inputs.

135. Jakehig says:

Dave Springer, 07:38
Absolutely correct that there is a huge infrastructure dedicated to vehicle refuelling. Why does that have to be limited to oil-based fuels?
One post has already pointed out the wide-spread use of CNG and LNG in Europe. By the way, that is also spreading to rail and shipping.
Then there are the liquid fuels produced from gas; Shell is leading the way with this. Beyond that, we have long-established technology to derive fuels from coal. And, of course, Biofuels might chip in a bit.
So the fuel infrastucture investment will serve us well for a long time yet, with or without ample supplies of oil.

136. Willis
You missed prices.
Prices are going UP.
Driving the economy DOWN.
Because global oil production plateaued – and is NOT keeping up with population.
Oil prices rise. US costs, OPEC sales hit records

American drivers this week broke a record that will bring them no joy. They collectively spent more than \$448 billion on gasoline since the beginning of the year, according to the Oil Price Information Service, putting the previous record for gas expenditures — set in 2008 — in the rearview mirror with weeks of driving still to go. . . .The major reason for the record-setting gas spending in 2011 was that oil prices were consistently high all year. And that probably brought joy at the other end of the pipeline. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is on pace to top \$1 trillion in net oil exports for the first time, or 29 percent more than last year.

137. JPeden says:

SP Wells says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:52 am
We have 8 billion people on the planet to house, feed and provide water to. Sustainability is not just about the United States, although it seems impossible to glimpse our own narcissism.
“We” don’t have to feed 8 billion people. We have to take care of our own system of Constitutional Capitalism. Strangely, the rest of the world benefits greatly anyway and would benefit even more were it to adopt the same system, which needs to exist somewhere to begin with. Getting panicked back into a Totalitarian Stone Age instead is not a plan.
Take care of your own house first.

138. OldOne says:

Doug says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:53 am
Oldone: Read this article too. Perhaps there is another opinion on the basin, Sounds like some Russian authors.
Palaeozoic source rocks in the Dniepr–Donets Basin, Ukraine

Doesn’t surprise me that there are differing viewpoints. Would be interesting to see which wells & what depths those “fine-grained rocks” were from, as well as the rest of the article.
All I could find was the abstract, which you posted.
Thanks

139. Willis Eschenbach says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:00 am

Willis, generally your articles are quite good, but this one missed the mark, by a lot. Yes, oil will last 40 years, likely 100 years or more. But at what flow rate?
The two important measures of oil production is flow rate and ERoEI. Peak oil is, and has always been, about flow rates. The oil shock of the 1970s was caused by a mere 5% loss in production due to depletion starting in the US. It doesn’t take much of a drop in production for the demand to force prices higher, which then triggers a recession. Oil production world wide peaked in 2005 and has been on a plateau since. World oil production in 40 years will not be anywhere near what the world needs today, let alone in 40 years.
ERoEI is vital. It’s the laws of thermodynamics and cannot be sidestepped with technology. In 1960 ERoEI was 100:1. Today it is only 25:1. The Alberta Oil Sands is only 6:1 excluding downstream energy costs. Society needs at least 4:1. Once we have reached 1:1 the world has run out of oil energy, regardless of what’s in the ground.

“Cannot be sidestepped with technology”? You were doing well up to that point. But since the “EI” part of the ERoEI involves the energy invested to get the energy, it is definitely a function of extraction technology, and is not simply the “laws of thermodynamics” as you claim. If we can extract it more cheaply (in an energy sense) the ERoEI goes up, so we can sidestep it with technology …
w.

140. David L. says:

There’s an interesting book titled “Eating Fossil Fuels” by Dale Allen Pfeiffer. He explores this issue from the standpoint of how quickly we run out of oil will deterine if we gracefully adapt or all h377 breaks loose. I think it’s an interesting read for anyone on either side of the AGW debate.
I tend to agree with Willis that there is plenty of fossil fuels left for now and the natural forces of supply and demand will move us in the correct alternative directions in the future.

141. Stephen Harris says:

Knowledge of our oil situation is really frightening if many of these comments are for real.
– Abiotic oil? Wake up! It doesn’t exist.
– The amount of Shale Oil has be seriously downgraded by the USGS. It will have a short life. It’s also expensive to extract thus having a low EROI. Think bubble.
– There is a serious lack of understanding of just how dependent we are on liquid transportation fuels from oil. The world moves on oil. A massive transition to natural gas is far too expensive for one thing and NG doesn’t have the energy density or transportability as gas. A typical gas station can only store 1/10 the energy of NG as gasoline. NG cars/trucks will remain a curiosity more than a reality.
– Known oil reserves are always upgraded, never downgraded. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because saying you have a large reserve makes investment money easier to come by.
– And speaking of investments the IEA reports that the world needs to spend about \$38 trillion dollars by 2035 to meet the projected demand. That’s not going to happen because 1) No one has that kind of money and 2) We’ll be on the down side slope of the oil curve by then.
– The U.S. and German Military are well versed in Peak Oil and have written reports outlining the national security problems that Peak Oil entails.
– Leaked cables from the U.S. State Dept. reveal that the Saudi’s are much closer to peaking than they let on in public. The former head of Saudi Aramco say in private they overestimated reserves by 40%. BTW, all OPEC countries overestimate so they can sell more oil because production quotas are based on reserves. In the middle 1980’s all OPEC members doubled their reserve estimates overnight. Sound fishy?
– All major non-opec producers are in terminal decline; Mexico, Alaska and the North Sea are crashing.
All this means we can expect steadily raising oil prices. The only thing that’ll bring down prices is demand destruction caused by recession. When those born today reach 30 years old they will live in a very different world than we do today.

142. DirkH says:

SP Wells says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:52 am
“Seems to me there is a larger question than how much oil we have left. What about the damage being done to our environment by using fossil fuels and living in a plastic state of mind.”
A “plastic state of mind” ? As opposed to an elastic state of mind, supposedly? Oh, I see what you mean. Relax. You can make all the plastic you want from starch, or cellulosis.
https://shop.ultimaker.com/en/consumables.html
Imagine that. A “sustainable” world with plastic! A hippies nightmare! One can even make bags out of it!

143. Willis Eschenbach says:

Dave Springer says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:38 am

@Willis

“Now, at some point this party has to slow down, nothing goes on forever … but the data shows we certainly don’t need to hurry to replace oil with solar energy or rainbow energy or wind energy in the next few decades. We have plenty of time for the market to indicate the replacement.”

Typically naive. I have cars and motorcycles older than the number of years of petroleum left to power them. Life is short. Several decades goes by quickly. It’s not like we’re talking 400 years we’re talking 40 years.

Typically naive of you to think “we’re talking 40 years” left, Dave. Read the article again. Note that the end of reserves has been forty years away for a quarter century now. Consider what that means for the current R/P ratio of forty years …
So whenever it is going to run out, we can say one thing for sure—only someone as blind as yourself could read that article and think that the data indicates we’ll run out in forty years.
Are you naturally that foolish and unobservant, Dave, or do you have to work at it? Because either way, it’s pretty impressive.
w.

144. Doug says:

Stephen Harris says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:20 am
– All major non-opec producers are in terminal decline;
—————————————————————————-
Ummm, actually, US oil production is climbing, gas production and gas liquids production soaring.

145. Stephen Harris says:

@Doug
U.S. oil production peaked at 9.1 mbd in 1971. It’s been in decline ever since, despite finds in Alaska and the Gulf. Current production is about 4.2 mbd.

146. The existence of reserves does not imply that it is remotely without cost to extract them, or that the extraction will not carry consequences, like oil spills offshore or the contamination of water, air and soil. The role of coal in Britain until the horrific pollution of the 1950s is an example of “we still have plenty of something, but we have to make a switch.”
In addition, there is no reference to the price of oil and oil products. What would I care if there is 40 years of oil left if a fill-up of a 100 mpg vehicle costs \$1,000? It becomes as problematic as telling me there is only 40 years’ supply of platinum left in the Earth’s crust: not my immediate concern.
The establishment of a oil-based economy is not merely a matter of access to supply, but the cost of bringing that supply in a refined form to market, and its price that fluctuates in response to its role as a benchmark commodity. See “gold” as a reference, even though gold’s rise since 1970 is not due to its utility, but to the debasement of currencies.
So in sum, the existence of oil reserves is no guarantee that they are easily extractable, or worth (yet) the effort. A move of civilization to a fusion and hydrogen economy, or even an as yet more challenging source, is best done while we still have the leisure of (historically) a cheap energy source as fossil fuels.

147. Willis Eschenbach says:

Stephen Harris says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

… – Known oil reserves are always upgraded, never downgraded. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because saying you have a large reserve makes investment money easier to come by.

If you think reserves are exaggerated, you’ll have to explain why thirty years ago they said we had thirty years of proven reserves. Sounds to me like the “proven reserves” has consistently underestimated the actual reserves, not overestimated them as you claim.
w.

148. Robmax says:

Proven oil reserves is the same as saying recoverable oil reserves, and known oil reserves is oil not yet recoverable with current technology. There is also undiscovered which is anybodies guess. The numbers are always changing. The Alberta oil sands for instance are known to contain at least two trillion barrels of oil, with about 280 billion barrels recoverable with current technology.

149. OldOne says:

Don K earlier mentioned Thomas Gold.
Gold wrote a very interesting essay in 1989 entitled New Ideas in Science.
It’s also about old ideas & progress in science.
While likely instigated by Gold’s oil & gas experience, it covers a few other examples of what he calls “the ‘herd’ instinct”.
While climate change isn’t mentioned, I think everyone will see how Gold’s article applies to the current climate change controversy.
http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_03_2_gold.pdf

150. Rob Potter says:

Without wishing to enter into arguments of proven vs unproven, recoverable, abiotic etc., Norway recently announced two new finds in the North Sea which are the third largest ever discovered – from a region heavily explored for the last 40 years and considered “prospected out” for many years.
Over the last three years, Norway has discovered more new all than any country except Brazil and the US – and only from the North Sea.
When 40 year-old fields can still provide such finds, I think we are along way from worrying about the oil running out.

151. Gary Pearse says:

A note about “RESERVES”: This is an economic-based number, meaning the amount of measured volume/tonnages that are known to a high confidence level that can be produced at a profit. The methods of determination of these numbers are prescribed in detail by industry technical associations and must be done by properly qualified engineers. They are even subject to audit. Theoretically, this number goes up and down with the price of the commodity but practically, it is the measure as of a given date. Measured resources are those resources which have been measured to a lesser confidence level for which there is a reasonable expectation that they could become economic either through increased price levels or improved technology. A lot of the resources of sub-economic commodities were already known decades ago (like the oil sands, deep deposits, offshore deposits, oil shales and coal deposit methane) but didn’t meet the standards of intensity of measurement and/or the technologies available were not economic. Recently discovered methyl hydrates in the sea floor muds are probably not far off in this chain. This is why the numbers are able to keep pace and this is why a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing to groups like the The Club of Rome and the green jihadists. Another factor in very large trends where there is a high degree of confidence that there are abundant resources is that it costs money to drill and develop reserves and so it doesn’t make economic sense to prove up more reserves than you are planning to produce within a certain planning time frame – say 10 years or so. For this reason, companies treat reserves like active inventories and only add to them as required. In another post I used the example of INCO’s nickel reserves in the Sudbury basin of Ontario having only 15 to 20 years reserves of nickel continuously since 1905. In addition, newer deposits found since The Club of Rome linear mob think, have kept reserves rising as demand increased.
For those more interested see:
http://spe.org/industry/docs/Reserves_Audit_Standards_2007.pdf

152. Don K says:

Just a brief comment on the Hubbert curve. It is treated with respect because it did predict US “Oil Production” fairly accurately. The HC is actually quite rigorous. It depends on a function called the logistic curve P(t) = 1 / (1 +e^-t) which yields a sort of S-shaped curve which looks like exponential growth initially, then flops over and approaches a limit. Plot the rate of change of the logistic curve and you get the Hubbert curve. Those of you who are good at math can investigate the logistic function and Hubbert curve. Don’t ask me for more details as I am horrible at math.
But the logistic curve/Hubbert curve are critically dependent on knowing the amount of exploitable resource. Get the amount of resource wrong, the prediction will be wrong. In the case of US natural gas, the amount of resource was not well known, and Hubbert failed to predict US production peak (twice actually). In the case of world oil, it is very difficult to predict the peak because the data on resource is poor and obsfucated. That’s why guesses are all over the place. However, no sane person thinks the resource is unlimited. We are arguing about when the peak will occur, not whether it will occur.
Also keep in mind that only about 15% or the planet’s population lives in situations where demand for oil is stable or declining. Most folks live in developing countries and their demand for petroleum is surely going to soar in future years. Why can’t they use other energy sources? They can (so can we) but liquid hydrocarbons are portable, energy dense, easy to store. easy to use, and relatively safe. “Oil” is the fuel of choice for many situations — especially transportation.

153. David L. says:

I’m not sure why this confuses people. There is no crystal ball. Nobody can possibly know exactly how much oil is left. But what the R/P factor shows is we have at least 40 years. That’s a timespan from 1903 with the Wright brothers fooling around with kites to 1943 where planes could fly at 30,000 feet. A lot can happen in 40 years. Think of life in 1970 compared to 2011. We are in the age of exponential technical advancement. What will the world look like in 2051? Come on everyone, pull out your crystal balls.

154. jrwakefield: December 14, 2011 at 8:21 am
Not one oil field can be shown to be of abiotic.
EVERY oil field has a biological source rock.

Or have drawn differing conclusions…
No problem with that.
You are perfectly entitled to think oil has a biological origin.
You are perfectly entitled to assay EVERY oil field [if you can].
However, I am still not convinced by your BOLD claims.

155. JPeden says:

SP Wells says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:52 am
Sustainability is not just about the United States, although it seems impossible to glimpse our own narcissism.
Btw, one form of narcissism is “do gooder”, “save the worlder”, “we only want to help everyone” narcissism, as a cloak for personal control needs existing in the presence of truly having nothing better to do, like successfully dealing with your own self and immediate situation first. Writ large via Communistic theology and its pseudo-physics and now the “sustainability/equality for your own good, or else!” ethic , it always leads to regressive scarcities which mirror the original scarcity of self or at least the absence of a creative human mind. Or, just take a look at Obama and his regressive policies. He’d make toilet paper impossible.

156. Dave Springer says:

Several people have brought up the point that reserve estimates are what’s economically recoverable at some price point per barrel. It appears the graph is adjusted for that to some extent.
The inflation adjusted price of oil was between \$13 and \$18/bbl from 1947 to 1971. US market control ended in 1971. Price doubled to \$30/bbl almost overnight and stayed there for 13 years reaching \$60/bbl for several years when it 1986 it fell below \$30 again and stayed between \$20 and \$30 for next 16 years until 2004. Who knows where it’s headed now. Even \$60/bbl seems like a fond memory at this point. One wonders if \$100/bbl is economically sustainable. It isn’t looking good so far.
As far as I’m concerned the price of oil is the #1 issue for the next president of the United States to do something about.
Who here can look me straight in the eye and tell me the US economy wouldn’t rise like a rocket if oil fell back to being stable at around \$15/bbl and transportation fuel \$0.50 gallon? That’s what we had from 1986 to 2004. This is all political. On 9/11/01 oil was still relatively stable at \$25. It started rising on the next day and essentially never looked back. This is the root cause of the ongoing deep recession.
Major advances in biofuel are inevitable. The key is synthetic biology. Evolution just didn’t produce the perfect organism for production of fuel oil or ethanol. Direct production of fuel oil from water, sun, and air is something that has no survival value in nature. Evolution never selected for it so where it exists it’s generally an undesireable byproduct of metabolism that evolution tends to minimize rather than maximize.
Synthetic biology changes all that. There are already patented cyano-bacteria (blue-green algae) that can produce 20,000 gallons/acre per year of fuel at a price equivalent to \$30/bbl oil. These algae grow great in municipal wastewater with high nutrient loads, brackish water, and saltwater. Just 10% of the Texas panhandle, a few million acres, could provide all the diesel, ethanol, and avgas for entire US current annual consumption.
How many applecarts would that upset? Imagine if oil exporters like OPEC couldn’t compete at \$30/bbl. Imagine if domestic oil producers couldn’t compete at \$30/bbl. You see, \$30/bbl equivalent is just the opening price for advanced biofuels. Sort of like transisters cost a dollar each in 1960. Demonstrably, once you can design living things like you can design a car or a computer, advanced biofuel plants won’t be constructed but they’ll rather be grown.
I think everyone who’s really aware of the scope of engineering opportunities to be exploited by access to synthetic biology knows that energy is a political problem not a technical problem. Too many vested interests in the status quo would be utterly destroyed by virtually free energy. Nonetheless progress in the infant field of synthetic biology is rapid. It’s mostly a matter of miniaturization, automation, and cost reduction in the synthetic biology lab. This where all the great strides are happening. In the past 10 years for instance the cost of sequencing a human genome fell from \$1 billion to under \$10,000 and from several years to less than a week. Think of it like being able to read and write. The cost of reading nature’s books (genomes) has dropped precipitously. We’re also interested in writing our own books. We can do that. The first artificial, working genome was written in the past 24 months. It took many months and many millions of dollars. But the cost of doing that is plummetting. This means that experimentation to produce that perfect biofuel-producing organism gets faster and cheaper and eventually it gets to the point where artificial life designed on computer workstation is as routine as writing apps for iPhones.
This is our next technological revolution. It’s coming soon and it’s a biggie as far as revolutions go. I’d say it’s the biggest thing since writing was invented.

157. Stephen Harris says:

@W.E.
http://www.enopetroleum.com/opecoilreservers.html
Notice how OPEC estimates were almost doubled in the same, short time frame in order to take advantage of new production quotas. The new estimates were not based on new discoveries. I hope you don’t think they all just made honest mistakes, and corrected them all at the same time. Oil geology is well understood and reserve estimates of long existing fields is not guess work. A sudden doubling of reserves by OPEC members doesn’t pass the smell test.
It is very much in a producers political and economic interest to fudge reserve estimates. Oil is money. Money is power and influence. When it comes to actual reserves estimates I trust retired industry insiders like Colin Campbell as well as whistleblowers and leaked cables more than the official party line.
But where the rubber meets the road is in production numbers. Those can’t be fudged that much. And the truth is that production has hit a bumpy plateau, despite growing demand. Heroic efforts to drill six miles below the ocean surface or to frack oil precursors in shale formations isn’t going to turn the game around. And why is anyone drilling in such difficult places? Because that’s where the rest of the oil is located. The low hanging, and cheap to produce, fruit has been picked. At best these efforts will give us a little bit of breathing room to come up with a different way to run our industrial civilization.

158. Doug says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:08 am
jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:31 am
Then you misunderstand a Hubbert curve. It’s not about what’s in the ground, it’s about flow rates.
————–
Actually I understand Hubbert’s work just fine. He is now off 10 fold on gas FLOW RATES in the US.
And please, stop setting up absurd premises such as “we need to find seven Ghawars a year”. All we need to do is keep getting a percent or two more recovery factor from all the existing fields every so often, find some giant deepwater fields, prove up a few billion in old fields like Wattenberg through new technology, apply horizontal drilling to liquid prone shales etc. That is exactly what we are doing, at economical costs and realistic energy inputs.
—————
I didn’t come up with the seven Ghawars, the IEA did.
If you understand flow rates how come you keep on about what’s in the ground? None of those you noted will have enough flow to keep up with depletion from aging fields. That is fact, not conjecture. Example, Cantarell has dropped more in flow rate than the Alberta Oil Sands can ever hope to produce.
“a few billion” is tiny in a world that consumes 33bb/year.

159. Smokey says:

Stephen Harris says:
“U.S. oil production peaked at 9.1 mbd in 1971. It’s been in decline ever since, despite finds in Alaska and the Gulf. Current production is about 4.2 mbd.”
Plenty of the blame for that decline can be laid at the feet of the enviro-lobby, which has been fighting the extraction of more than ten billion barrels of easily recoverable oil from a three square mile section of ANWR [the tiny red square]. There is certainly more oil to be found on the North Slope, but oil companies are not even allowed to explore for it. [Yet there sems to be unlimited money for failed social experiments.]
And the price of oil seems to be related much more closely to international crises than to actual supply and demand.
The current Administration refuses to allow exploration or drilling around almost all of the U.S., including Alaska. However, the Administration has no objection to China’s drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in partnership with Cuba, only 30 miles off the U.S. coastline. If When there is a Chinese/Cuban oil spill, the fault will be due to the enviros’ obstructionism. But expect them to turn a blind eye toward the Chinese, the Cubans, and the Administration.
There is plenty of oil for our needs. Enviro politics is the only reason it is not being produced. The eco-lobby is directly responsible for the high cost of gasoline, and of all widely used petroleum-based products.

160. malagaview says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:01 am
jrwakefield: December 14, 2011 at 8:21 am
Not one oil field can be shown to be of abiotic.
EVERY oil field has a biological source rock.
Or have drawn differing conclusions…
No problem with that.
You are perfectly entitled to think oil has a biological origin.
You are perfectly entitled to assay EVERY oil field [if you can].
However, I am still not convinced by your BOLD claims.
——-
Pick any field you want, how about Tupi off Brazil? Google its geology.
The fact is the oil industry uses biological markers as a tool to look for deposits.

161. Robmax says:

With the amount of oil that is released every year through natural oil seeps around the world, it’s got to be coming from somewhere. Just in the gulf of Mexico alone, the equivalent of two EXXON Valdez sized spills are released every year by natural seeps.
An introduction to the modern petroleum science, and to the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.
http://www.gasresources.net/Introduction.htm

162. mfosdb says:

Spot on as always. An example of new technology, gas rather than oil, bringing previously untapped reserves into production is the long awaited FLNG. Shell’s video illustrating this feat of engineering is interesting. Sadly they didn’t pay me to post it here :o(

163. jrwakefield said:
“Except for the Arctic, the entire planet has been searched. The big easy fields have all be found and exploited.”
Sorry, don’t buy that the *entire* planet has been searched. It may have been searched for the “big easy fields” as you say but I included shale in my question as well. Looking at the patchwork of shale deposits just within the US which are only recently being tapped, I believe there are other shale deposits in other countries which were ignored in the past or remain undiscovered.
“There wont be oil beyond the continental shelfs, wrong geology. Oil deposits are mostly from shallow marine ecosystems. Explained in the book Oil 101.”
But there *is* oil beyond the continental shelves…they have been progressing into deeper & deeper water depths (away from the shelf) as technology improves. The BP disaster in the Gulf was in over 5000ft of water & many thousands of feet below the ocean floor. Also, that new Brazilian find in the South Atlantic is in very deep water (away from the shelf) as well.
Tell me, what does Oil 101 say is the deepest water depth oil will be found and how deep below the ocean floor is the limit to find oil…eh?
Jeff

164. Donald Mitchell says:

I think that it is a terrible waste of oil to burn it for heat when it can be a raw material for so many useful products. That said, I feel confident that it will eventually become so valuable as a feedstock that other, cheaper sources will become available for heat. It appears that natural gas will largely replace oil for heating well within the projected time for running out of oil. When natural gas, which can also be used as a feedstock, exceeds the cost of producing power from uranium and thorium, we can stop burning it for power generation. Get the price of electric power low enough and gas will be phased out of home and business heating. If oil and natural gas were only used for feedstock and transportation purposes, the supplies start looking a lot larger. There is also the consideration that, given cheap enough electric power, conversion of coal to methane looks more practical and we have huge quantities of coal.
I do believe that the primary problems of our (USA) energy problems are political. I have very high hopes that the RICO suit filed by Chevron will cause a thorough reevaluation of some of the environmental efforts by various groups including some agencies of the US government.
One immediate need is a requirement that any document presented to (or referenced by our federal government) or produced by our federal government must have all of the original data as well as the analysis procedures available to the general public on servers which are administered by an independent agency. It should also be possible for anyone to post a paper which has been submitted for publication and rejected as long as the reasons for rejection are also posted. There should be significant penalties for presenting fraudulent or incomplete data. I think that this would also significantly reduce the contention that we have in the discussion of global warming.
I do not trust the EPA to present an honest, much less a balanced, picture of anything having to do with their regulations. Until they have to include an analysis of costs versus benefits for any existing or proposed regulation (including, of course, posting the assumptions and methods of calculation). Demonstration of significant error in the cost benefit ratio at any time in the life of the regulation should be cause for cancelling that regulation as well as reconsidering the desirability of continuing to use the input from the individuals who made the erroneous assumptions.
One formative occasion in my disgust regarding our regulatory agencies was the attempt of a local power company to put in the Black Fox nuclear power plant. The attacks on it fell into three primary categories.
1 Physical Safety: While it would withstand a crash by one 747, what if two hit it at the same time?
2 Process Safety: Would it be safer if the peak steam temperature were only 400 degrees Fahrenheit? How about 300 degrees?
3 Cost Effectiveness: Now that we have greatly increased the cost of the physical plant and the cost of all of the permitting as well as significantly decreased its efficiency, how can it still generate electricity at a price lower than a coal fired plant?
4: Environmental Impact: It is my understanding that Black Fox finally failed for the impact on the Verdigris river that it would provide its cooling water. There was no assertion that any pollutants would be added to the river. Instead, by evaporating some of the water, it would increase the concentration of allegedly preexisting pollutants. Would it be petty of me to mention that the name of river, which was given to it by an early French explorer, can be interpreted to mean green grey and that I consider that descriptive?

165. LarryD says:

The current theory on the biotic origin of oil, is that it is formed from silt-buried plankton in shallow seas. Not from dinosaurs. Which means that Earth has been generating oil for around three billion years. And that’s not to say that all oil is biotic in origin, the theories are not mutually exclusive.

166. Rob Potter says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:55 am
Without wishing to enter into arguments of proven vs unproven, recoverable, abiotic etc., Norway recently announced two new finds in the North Sea which are the third largest ever discovered – from a region heavily explored for the last 40 years and considered “prospected out” for many years.
Over the last three years, Norway has discovered more new all than any country except Brazil and the US – and only from the North Sea.
When 40 year-old fields can still provide such finds, I think we are along way from worrying about the oil running out.
————–
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-16/norway-sees-longer-oil-era-as-north-sea-find-offers-hidden-giant.html
“The Aldous and Avaldsnes oil discoveries located on the Utsira High may hold 500 million to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to the Stavanger-based company. The company is scheduled to drill a well next week at the Aldous Major North prospect, which has a 50 percent chance of striking oil and may add as much as 300 million barrels of recoverable oil, Dodson said. ”
Puny. The world consumes 33 BILLION BARRELS PER YEAR. That represents a mere 13 days of world consumption. It will last the Norwgians only 2 years. If that is a “giant” field we are indeed in trouble.

167. Jeremy says:

jrwakefield,
You need to learn to contribute to a thread instead of making baseless suggestions. Have you looked at North Dakota production recently? Did you know that US production has been increasing recently and in 2010 this was primarily due to Shale Oil.
Google also “Vaca Muerta “Shale oil” – Repsol” – perhaps you, Sir, can learn a thing or two about Oil 101.

168. Doug says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:35 am
If you understand flow rates how come you keep on about what’s in the ground?
—————————
I haven’t said anything about reserves, I’m talking flow rates. Despite your favorite poster boy Cantarell, flow rates worldwide are doing just fine. US flow rate is climbing. My wells have new horizontal legs and are back to the rate they did 20 years ago.
Hubbert predicted our gas flow rate would be 6 BCFD. It is actually 63 bcfd. Sorry to deal in facts

169. Robmax says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:37 am
With the amount of oil that is released every year through natural oil seeps around the world, it’s got to be coming from somewhere. Just in the gulf of Mexico alone, the equivalent of two EXXON Valdez sized spills are released every year by natural seeps.
An introduction to the modern petroleum science, and to the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.
http://www.gasresources.net/Introduction.htm
———-
Not sure why this has to be stated over and over, but I will again. NOT ONE oil field can be shown to be abiotic. EVERY oil field found so far have biological source rocks.

170. Jeremy says:

jrwakefield,
I now see you have posted all over this thread. Chicken Little would be very proud of you!
Sorry folks but the sky is not falling and there will be Oil, Gas and Coal for hundreds and hundreds more years. Long before we run out we will have migrated to other more efficient forms of energy if Mankind’s ability to apply an deliver new technologies continues to progress. I doubt we will ever seem much in the way of meaningful use of less efficient forms such as wind, solar or tidal power. I am thinking fusion or something better.

171. Robber says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:57 am
Oil is a diminishing resource – 40 years is little time to wean ourselves off oil, and find alternatives.

I’m not sure you actually read the blog post. The time to “running out” has been 40 years in the future for the past quarter century. What that means is that 40 years from now we will still be 40 years away from “running out”.

172. Andrew30 says:

PAUL SCHILIZZI says:
Don’t forget that
STONE AGE DID NOT END BECAUSE WE RAN OUT OF STONES
And the Age of Sail did not end because of lack of wind.
And the transcontinetal railway was not caused by of a lack of covered wagons.
And the New York – San Francisco telegraph was not caused by a lack of pony express riders.
Faster, more efficent, less expensive and more reliable, that is how human technologies evolve to improve standard of living, health and well being.

173. JKrob says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:45 am
jrwakefield said:
“There wont be oil beyond the continental shelfs, wrong geology. Oil deposits are mostly from shallow marine ecosystems. Explained in the book Oil 101.”
But there *is* oil beyond the continental shelves…they have been progressing into deeper & deeper water depths (away from the shelf) as technology improves. The BP disaster in the Gulf was in over 5000ft of water & many thousands of feet below the ocean floor. Also, that new Brazilian find in the South Atlantic is in very deep water (away from the shelf) as well.
————
No, the entire Gulf of Mexico is continental shelf. The host sediments are above the basalitic oceanic crust. The Tupi field off Bazil is also on continental shelf, just above the basaltic oceanic crust, and just below a thick layer of evaporite salt.
————–
Tell me, what does Oil 101 say is the deepest water depth oil will be found and how deep below the ocean floor is the limit to find oil…eh?
Jeff
————-
Read it and learn. There are NO FIELDS off continental shelves. Being below the ocean floor does not mean below oceanic basalt, which is what the ocean floor is beyond shelves.

174. TomB says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:56 am
Robber says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:57 am
Oil is a diminishing resource – 40 years is little time to wean ourselves off oil, and find alternatives.
I’m not sure you actually read the blog post. The time to “running out” has been 40 years in the future for the past quarter century. What that means is that 40 years from now we will still be 40 years away from “running out”.
————-
The 40 years is bogus. Means nothing. Oil production does not shut off the day max flow is achieved. It follows a decline curve for years. The issue is not running out of oil. We will never run out of oil. What will happen is the flow rate won’t keep up with growing demand, and there will be shortage, with price spikes that destroys the economy (recessions).

175. Jeremy says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:54 am
jrwakefield,
I now see you have posted all over this thread. Chicken Little would be very proud of you!
Sorry folks but the sky is not falling and there will be Oil, Gas and Coal for hundreds and hundreds more years. Long before we run out we will have migrated to other more efficient forms of energy if Mankind’s ability to apply an deliver new technologies continues to progress. I doubt we will ever seem much in the way of meaningful use of less efficient forms such as wind, solar or tidal power. I am thinking fusion or something better.
—————
Fusion is dead. There are fundemental problems. The oil drum had a good article about it a few years back. Wind will never replace any fossil fuel. In the summer its output is less than 7% capacity, and 30% of the time it produces nothing. Sun in the winter is pathetic. Tidal was tried and failed.
It has nothing to do with being chicken little. It has to do with the evidence:
This is just one report of many:
http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/tiki-index.php?page=Global+Oil+Depletion

176. Smokey says:

jrwakefield says:
“What will happen is the flow rate won’t keep up with growing demand, and there will be shortage, with price spikes that destroys the economy (recessions).”
You have no faith in the free market. As supply gradually diminishes, costs rise and alternatives become more cost-effective. Economies are not “destroyed”. Recessions occur, but they are part of the business cycle and not due to diminishing supply. An exception was the 1973 oil embargo, when the supply was entirely disrupted overnight. But in a normal free market, the market adjusts.

177. Fred 2 says:

The reserve stays at 40 years for decades and decades because there is no incentive to look for more oil once a company has over 40 years of reserves on the books. Finding oil is expensive, and usually fails anyway, so why spend any more money hunting for resources you won’t need for generations? The engineers may say they’ve got an interesting lead, but the financial types say “why bother?”

178. elbatrop says:

flow rate only has to start dropping for the economic damage to occur, running out isn’t even an issue nor is it what peak oil is about
the other factor is net energy you get from the resource which has been dropping since oil was discovered
@ jeremy, you have nothing to back any of your assertions while others have posted data and links to back up theirs
I’d like to see this whole mess cross posted at someplace like theoildrum.com and you guys will get summarily torn apart with little effort.

179. MarkW says:

kbray in california says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:38 am

180. Andrew30 says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:56 am
PAUL SCHILIZZI says:
Don’t forget that
STONE AGE DID NOT END BECAUSE WE RAN OUT OF STONES
And the Age of Sail did not end because of lack of wind.
And the transcontinetal railway was not caused by of a lack of covered wagons.
And the New York – San Francisco telegraph was not caused by a lack of pony express riders.
Faster, more efficent, less expensive and more reliable, that is how human technologies evolve to improve standard of living, health and well being.
———–
What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil? We keep hearing about this mythical alternative, but we never see anything close to oil. It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.

181. MarkW says:

Except for the Arctic, the entire planet has been searched. The big easy fields have all be found and exploited.

That explains why they keep finding new, big fields.

182. Stephen Harris says:

Here are some links to various reports:
Industry Peak Oil Task Force, UK:
Hirsch report prepared for the DoE: Dated 2005 but still relevant: http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_NETL.pdf
Joint Operating Environment. U.S. Military:
http://www.peakoil.net/files/JOE2010.pdf
Peak Oil Report by the German Military:
http://www.energybulletin.net/sites/default/files/Peak%20Oil_Study%20EN.pdf
IEA World Energy Outlook 2011 Summary:
http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2011/executive_summary.pdf
ASPO International. A clearing house of information:
http://www.peakoil.net/
The Oil Drum. Another clearing house of information:
http://www.theoildrum.com/

183. Smokey says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:11 am
jrwakefield says:
“What will happen is the flow rate won’t keep up with growing demand, and there will be shortage, with price spikes that destroys the economy (recessions).”
You have no faith in the free market. As supply gradually diminishes, costs rise and alternatives become more cost-effective. Economies are not “destroyed”. Recessions occur, but they are part of the business cycle and not due to diminishing supply. An exception was the 1973 oil embargo, when the supply was entirely disrupted overnight. But in a normal free market, the market adjusts.
————–
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-36743203/oil-prices-and-recessions-40-years-worth/?tag=mwuser
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8268
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7562
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6912
for starters.

184. MarkW says:

“PCBs are even in breast milk now.”
PCBs have always been in breast milk.
“While I do not agree with fear mongering,”
Then why do you do it?

185. Doug says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:49 am
jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:35 am
If you understand flow rates how come you keep on about what’s in the ground?
—————————
I haven’t said anything about reserves, I’m talking flow rates. Despite your favorite poster boy Cantarell, flow rates worldwide are doing just fine. US flow rate is climbing. My wells have new horizontal legs and are back to the rate they did 20 years ago.
Hubbert predicted our gas flow rate would be 6 BCFD. It is actually 63 bcfd. Sorry to deal in facts
—————
US oil production:

186. MarkW says:

December 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

I’ve said for years, that today’s dumps are tomorrows mines.

187. elbatrop says:

@ smokey
you fail to understand the nature and relationship of money to energy
oh and the oil embargo was a mere 5% of the total market and it threw the US into turmoil forcing it to capitulate a year later

188. MarkW says:

Stephen Harris says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:40 am
@Doug
U.S. oil production peaked at 9.1 mbd in 1971.

Isn’t that the year the EPA was founded? It isn’t a coincidence.

• Stephen Harris says:

Yes. Can’t hide anything from you. It was a conspiracy to steal oil and pour it down the drain………….just for spite.

189. More Soylent Green! says:

David Gould says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:45 am
Willis,
Peak oil has never been about peak oil reserves. It has been about peak oil [i]production[/i]. And your graph shows production flatlining since around 2004, which is an indication that peak oil might be upon us.

And so what? Does it show anything more than production dropped when demand dropped? We are in the middle of a global economic meltdown. What are conditions like on your planet?

190. MarkW says:

Yes, oil does mostly form in shallow ocean deposits. However what is shallow ocean one year, can be on a mountain top, or deep ocean, a few million years later.

191. elbatrop says:

@ MarkW
new big fields huh? like?
when was the last time the world found a field in excess of 100gigabarrels that had a potential flow rate once developed in the millions of barrels per day range?

192. More Soylent Green! says:

Luther Wu says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:01 am
Due to reduced demand, Gasoline and Diesel fuel are currently being exported from the U.S.
http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/05/news/economy/gasoline_export/index.htm

The USA has been exporting refined gasoline and diesel for years. Venezuela, for example, does not have the ability to refine the oil they produce. Venezuela has never had the ability to refine their heavy crude. They have always exported crude oil and import refined gas and diesel.
We have also been exporting diesel to Europe for years. For some reason, Europe does not have enough refineries to meet its needs. (Any guesses why? Any possible suspects come to mind?)

193. OldOne says:

Brian H says:
December 14, 2011 at 7:11 am
To all the abiotic oil deniers: I assume you await with bated breath the first geologic explorations of Titan, to unearth (untitan?) the fossils of the alien ferns and multi-colored algae etc. that decomposed into its lakes of hydrocarbons!

Brian,
Since NASA says:”Titan’s thick cloudy atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, like Earth’s, but contains much higher percentages of “smog-like” chemicals such as methane and ethane. The smog may be so thick that it actually rains “gasoline-like” liquids”, and we’ve been told (quite dogmatically) “There is no oil on Titan”, perhaps rather than looking for fossils, we should just look for the refineries that have refined all the oil (since there is none there now) into lighter hydrocarbons. They should be much easier to find than those tiny fossils too.

194. David L. says:

“Twenty years from now the gasoline motor car will be gasolineless, the motor-boat a memory and the airplane a museum curio. Industry dependent upon the derivatives of petroleum will have to look to other sources for fuel and lubrication. All this is true-if the prediction just made by the United States Geological Survey is accurate”. From “The Iron Age” April 6, 1922 page 949

195. MarkW says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:17 am
Except for the Arctic, the entire planet has been searched. The big easy fields have all be found and exploited.

That explains why they keep finding new, big fields.
———
Which ones? Be specific. Make sure you include how much oil is in place and compare that to our rate of consumption.

196. David L. says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am
———–
What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil? We keep hearing about this mythical alternative, but we never see anything close to oil. It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.
_________________
Well, it’s not liquid and it has a much higher density than oil, but : Uranium?

197. Archonix says:

Something to consider, with all the talk of peak oil and 40 years not being enough time to transition to another technology… how long did it take to transition from gas to electrical lighting?
The first practical lighting system was invented in the 1870s or thereabouts (system meaning not merely the incandescent light itself, but also the means to power it in a setting other than a laboratory). Gas lights were almost completely replaced within 40 years.
40 years isn’t such a short time for a new technology to become ubiquitous.

198. MarkW says:

It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.
1) No alternative exits.
2) We aren’t running out for several hundred years, so why worry?

199. TomL says:

Whether the deep water Gulf of Mexico is underlain by continental or oceanic crust really doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s basalt, maybe it’s highly stretched out continental material. The sedimentary rocks that form the reservoirs, like the Eocene/Paleocene sandstones, are of continental origin in any case.
The water depth record for production is currently held by the Shell/Chevron/BP Perdido platform, located in 8000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the individual wells feeding into the Perdido platform are in over 9000 feet of water.
http://www.offshoreenergytoday.com/usa-shells-tobago-offshore-field-breaks-depth-record-for-subsea-production/

200. JRWakefield, I can assure you the UKERC report you have referenced is one of the most amateurish efforts (of several hundred) ever reconciled by Trendlines Research over the past seven years. It is a political document that ignored completely the findings of its technical consultant (C Skrebowski). One must remember when reading reports by this fraternity that McPeaksters have declared imminent peak oil virtually every year since 1989. They are a mere cult and are engaged in gross misinformation on this topic.
If instead one views the consensus avg of the 16 tier-1 geologists involved in annual oil depletion projections, it is revealed All Liquids is targeted to occur in 2024 @ 97 Mbd. The sub-category of light sweet crude (regular conventional oil) peaked @ 69 Mbd in 2005 and is presently 64 Mbd of 88 Mbd total flow.
monthly peak oil charts: http://trendlines.ca/free/peakoil

201. The iceman cometh says:

mondo says:
“December 14, 2011 at 7:38 am
Willis,
A very interesting question to ask the oil majors (BP for example) is “the concept of ‘Reserves’ is an economic concept, meaning that portion of ‘Resources’ that can be economically extracted at a particular oil price”
I like to tease the Peak Oil mob with the simple question as to why there was only 25 years of reserves in 1945; by 1970, that oil was gone, but we had 30 years of reserves; by 2000, all the 1970’s oil had gone but we had 40 years of reserves. How come? They keep telling me we are about to hit a peak – they clearly don’t even understand the question.
The answer, of course, is that in 1945 we were talking oil at \$2/bbl; by 1970 there was no more \$2/bbl oil but lots of \$10/bbl; by 2000 there was no more \$10/bbl oil but lots of \$25 oil. Yes, ‘reserves’ are indeed an economic concept. But will the Peak Oil gloomsters understand that simple economics? I haven’t yet found one.

202. Resourceguy says:

Resource econ is one area where econ illiteracy is rampant and policymakers are now happy to get it wrong with emphasis applied—see Markey and Waxman. The continuing pattern of extending the years of remaining reserves for decade after decade stems from industry and investment adaptation to price signals with lag times appropriate for that sector. In most cases the lag time to install new capacity or apply new production or discovery technology takes longer than the armchair experts and biased policy distortionists have time for. They look more like short-termers in the stock markets than the industry players and principled investors themselves. I guess the policy distorters are cyclical just like the resource industries, but with countercyclical timing and motives.

203. MAtthew Epp says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am
“What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil? We keep hearing about this mythical alternative, but we never see anything close to oil. It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.”
Man you really are a doom and gloomer. Right now with current technology, automobiles and light duty trucks, ie pickups , the type of vehicles that joe public drives everyday which account for the vast majority of the vehicle miles driven everyday and the oil consumption in the good old USA, can be converted to run on either LNG or gasoline. The reason the majority of drivers are still driving on gasoline is the availability of refilling stations for LNG is limited, however as more vehicles are equipped with this capability, the gas stations owners will see a potential market and will install the necessary equipment to provide the LNG.
It doesn’t have the same punch per pouind that gasoilne has, but it is transportable and readily adapts to current transportation technology. As for depletion of this resource? virtually limitless and currently there are known supplies of 100’s of years.
Relax, take a chill pill and enjoy your day.
Cheers!

204. jorgekafkazar says:

Jeff says: “And of course, herein lies much of the problem…everytime the R/P slope is down, the peak-oil people start crowing about how we are running out of oil. This sends entrepreneurial people out, spending money and devoting their careers to find the replacement, and paying others to devote their careers to finding the replacement, only to have the line moved farther and farther into the future. How on earth do they A. justify their careers, and B. get their money back? Hmmmmm…”
That’s why oil shale is the wave of the future, and always will be.

205. Isn’t that the year the EPA was founded? It isn’t a coincidence.
More Soylent Green! says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:32 am
David Gould says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:45 am
Willis,
Peak oil has never been about peak oil reserves. It has been about peak oil [i]production[/i]. And your graph shows production flatlining since around 2004, which is an indication that peak oil might be upon us.
And so what? Does it show anything more than production dropped when demand dropped? We are in the middle of a global economic meltdown. What are conditions like on your planet?
—–
Demand is down because of demand destruction caused by high oil prices.

206. Ralph says:

>>tokyoboy says: December 13, 2011 at 11:56 pm
>>Where on earth is the good ole Peak Oil??
You misunderstand what Peak Oil is.
Peak Oil has nothing to do with reserves, it is all about production rates. The Mid East might have humungous reserves, but oil production has been reducing there because it is harder and harder to get their thick oil out of the ground.
Peak Oil occurs when pruduction no longer meets demand – and the data here does not give us that information. We need a graph of world consumption vs world production, and that will give us a clearer idea if there is going to be an oil shortage (Peak Oil) in the near future.
.

207. The iceman cometh says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm
mondo says:
“December 14, 2011 at 7:38 am
Willis,
A very interesting question to ask the oil majors (BP for example) is “the concept of ‘Reserves’ is an economic concept, meaning that portion of ‘Resources’ that can be economically extracted at a particular oil price”
I like to tease the Peak Oil mob with the simple question as to why there was only 25 years of reserves in 1945; by 1970, that oil was gone, but we had 30 years of reserves; by 2000, all the 1970′s oil had gone but we had 40 years of reserves. How come? They keep telling me we are about to hit a peak – they clearly don’t even understand the question.
The answer, of course, is that in 1945 we were talking oil at \$2/bbl; by 1970 there was no more \$2/bbl oil but lots of \$10/bbl; by 2000 there was no more \$10/bbl oil but lots of \$25 oil. Yes, ‘reserves’ are indeed an economic concept. But will the Peak Oil gloomsters understand that simple economics? I haven’t yet found one.
——-
That’s because reserves are meaningless. You are making the same mistake as the others who challenge peak oil. Which is fine. The mistake you are making is look at what’s inthe ground. Peak oil is not about what’s in the ground, it’s about how fast it can be extracted compared to demand. It only takes a small drop in production relative to demand to drive prices through the roof. That’s simple economics.

208. jorgekafkazar says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm
Jeff says: “And of course, herein lies much of the problem…everytime the R/P slope is down, the peak-oil people start crowing about how we are running out of oil. This sends entrepreneurial people out, spending money and devoting their careers to find the replacement, and paying others to devote their careers to finding the replacement, only to have the line moved farther and farther into the future. How on earth do they A. justify their careers, and B. get their money back? Hmmmmm…”
That’s why oil shale is the wave of the future, and always will be.
———
Always is a long time. Still making the same mistake. Peak oil is about flow rates. Oil shale will have a low flow rate, low ERoEI. Expensive to develop. Recessions caused by high oil prices will curb demand for oil, dropping the price. the price of oil will never get high enough to make oil shale viable on a large scale. Keep in mind that the Oil Sands up here has an ERoEI of only 6:1 and that does not include downstream energy costs of transportation and refining.

209. MAtthew Epp says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm
jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am
“What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil? We keep hearing about this mythical alternative, but we never see anything close to oil. It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.”
Man you really are a doom and gloomer. Right now with current technology, automobiles and light duty trucks, ie pickups , the type of vehicles that joe public drives everyday which account for the vast majority of the vehicle miles driven everyday and the oil consumption in the good old USA, can be converted to run on either LNG or gasoline. The reason the majority of drivers are still driving on gasoline is the availability of refilling stations for LNG is limited, however as more vehicles are equipped with this capability, the gas stations owners will see a potential market and will install the necessary equipment to provide the LNG.
It doesn’t have the same punch per pouind that gasoilne has, but it is transportable and readily adapts to current transportation technology. As for depletion of this resource? virtually limitless and currently there are known supplies of 100′s of years.
Relax, take a chill pill and enjoy your day.
Cheers!
———–
I already posted a source about the longevity of shale gas. It’s not going to last much longer none of them are making any money at it. Depletion rates are horrendous.

210. MAtthew Epp says:

Correction to my previous post. I should have typed CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) not LNG. My bad.
Cheers,
Matthew

211. Smokey says:

jrwakefield says:
“Oil shocks and recessions go together.”
You’re just arguing for the sake of argument. My point was that the free market adjusts to the declining supply of a commodity by pricing alternatives more attractively by comparison. I also noted the exception of price spikes due to international crises. Your links do nothing to negate the fact that events – not the lack of available supply – have caused the price of oil to spike. From the first link you posted, there’s this. [Note the graphic.]
elbatrop says:
“you fail to understand the nature and relationship of money to energy …oh and the oil embargo was a mere 5% of the total market and it threw the US into turmoil forcing it to capitulate a year later”
See my reply to jrwakefield. There is more to the price of oil than energy. There is fear, and artificially manipulating the price [OPEC], and major government restriction of supply, etc. There is ample fossil fuels for our needs, if the government cooperated in allowing production instead of sharply limiting supply. The free market provides – if allowed.
Finally, it does not matter what the total portion of the market that OPEC controlled in 1973. Oil, like any commodity, is priced at the margin. Econ was my minor, but I really don’t think it’s your specialty. If the government announced that drilling would be allowed in ANWR, the price would immediately plunge before a drop of oil was produced.

212. elbatrop says:

@ Ralph
actually peak oil occurs when no amount of effort or energy expended is able to raise the production rate of oil
Every oil field exhibits this same characteristic, once it is about halfway depleted of what oil can be recovered more effort and energy cannot raise the flow rate from that field. In fact in most cases you can do permanent damage to the field by trying to over drive it harder than what the geology and physics will allow.
This logically means that once the world hits somewhere around the halfway point of recoverable oil it will no longer be possible to increase the world production rate.
Lots of people jump on the technology bandwagon blindly without checking the data, look at the tertiary techniques versus ultimate recovered oil and the scale of world oil production.
The other part of peak oil is the very nature of how mined resources are discovered and exploited, the low hanging easy to get fruit is picked first. Once the easy stuff is gone you are forced to work at the harder stuff. Take the oil sands for example, it has taken a long time to ramp up production simply because of the physics involved. You can match what has been done in Canada with the oil sands over 10 years in less than a year in Iraq at about 1/5th the cost. Economically that is a huge difference.

213. Archonix says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:46 am
Something to consider, with all the talk of peak oil and 40 years not being enough time to transition to another technology… how long did it take to transition from gas to electrical lighting?
The first practical lighting system was invented in the 1870s or thereabouts (system meaning not merely the incandescent light itself, but also the means to power it in a setting other than a laboratory). Gas lights were almost completely replaced within 40 years.
40 years isn’t such a short time for a new technology to become ubiquitous.
————–
That’s actually only true for cities. Smaller towns and villages in the boonies didnt have electric light until near WWII or after. And that was a population 1/4 of today. So not only is the change over 4 times larger, it’s also much larger because of the extent the current system is entrenched. 60 years ago I was promised by this time I’d be driving flying cars. Trips to the moon routine. I’m still waiting.

214. Smokey, I never said all oil price spikes were due to depletion. I said price spikes cause recessions, regardless of the reason for the spike. It’s just today oil price spikes are caused by depletion.

215. Andrew30 says:

jrwakefield says: December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am
[What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil?]
Lot of things have the same or greater energy density, however all of them not as simple, safe, inexpensive, abundant, portable and controllable as petroleum combustion.
Hybrid rocket engines are simple, portable and controllable, but not as safe, inexpensive and abundant.
Liquid fluoride thorium reactors could be abundant and are safe and controllable but not simple, inexpensive and portable.
Volcanoes are inexpensive and simple but not very controllable, abundant, portable or safe. Meteors have similar issues and only a short lived liquid phase.

216. elbatrop says:

@ Smokey
ok, explain the rest of the planet where oil is allowed to be extracted without restrictions at all
nothing is stopping the rest of the world from drilling at will, try again
Oil is priced at the margins temporarily, prices are elastic up to a point however long term when talking about the world’s primary source of energy money starts approaching the actual value of energy which in turn means increases in price although leveraged does not mean more production when the cost of production is more than the product can sell for. You don’t spend 10 barrels of oil to get one barrel in return.

217. David L. says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:45 am
jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am
———–
What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil? We keep hearing about this mythical alternative, but we never see anything close to oil. It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.
_________________
Well, it’s not liquid and it has a much higher density than oil, but : Uranium?
——————–
Personally I think we should go full tilt on LFTR as well as more nuke plants. That will leave more oil for non-fuel requirements like plastics, essential for food preservation.

218. jrwakefield says: December 14, 2011 at 10:37 am
The fact is the oil industry uses biological markers as a tool to look for deposits.

And some use a Dowsing Rod to locate oil.
Each have their successes and failures.
How you search for OIL doesn’t determine its origin!

Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites,[1] and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation (Ley lines), without the use of scientific apparatus. Dowsing is also known as divining (especially in reference to interpretation of results), doodlebugging (in the US), or (when searching specifically for water) water finding, water witching or water dowsing.
There is no accepted scientific rationale behind dowsing, and there is no scientific evidence that it is effective.
A Y- or L-shaped twig or rod, called a dowsing rod, divining rod (Latin: virgula divina or baculus divinatorius) or witching rod is sometimes used during dowsing, although some dowsers use other equipment or no equipment at all.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divining_rod

219. elbatrop says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:38 am
@ MarkW
new big fields huh? like?
when was the last time the world found a field in excess of 100gigabarrels that had a potential flow rate once developed in the millions of barrels per day range?
—————-
None since the 1960’s, thats the problem.

220. Smokey says:

jrwakefield says:
“Peak oil is not about what’s in the ground, it’s about how fast it can be extracted compared to demand. It only takes a small drop in production relative to demand to drive prices through the roof. That’s simple economics.”
We are in complete agreement on that point. The solution to the artificial supply shortage is for government to encourage new exploration and drilling, instead of fighting energy production tooth and nail. The problem of high gas prices and the rising cost of goods and services that require fossil fuel use is entirely due to government interference in the free market.

221. Stephen Harris says:

@Smokey
You said: “If the government announced that drilling would be allowed in ANWR, the price would immediately plunge before a drop of oil was produced”.
Not so. The price of oil is determined by how much is available right now on the world market and how high futures markets are being driven by fears of shortages.
If drilling were allowed in ANWR today we wouldn’t see the first drop for about seven years. But then no one is going to drill there even if allowed because the estimate of reserves was downgraded by about 90% by the USGS (an agency that sees the world through rose colored glasses). The return on investment would be very poor and so not worth the cost or effort.
The economic theory of inventing a new widget to replace an old one doesn’t work with non-renewable resources.

222. Scott Brim says:

Dave Springer: “I think everyone who’s really aware of the scope of engineering opportunities to be exploited by access to synthetic biology knows that energy is a political problem not a technical problem.”

If this is indeed the case, then we will never run out of a ready supply of energy-dense liquid carbon fuels, at least as long as humans are on this planet and the sun still shines as brightly as it does now.
Dave, let’s suppose your predictions concerning the future emergence of biofuels as a major energy resource are accurate.
Would you care to speculate as to when it will be that the economics of producing large quantities of biofuels employing synthetic biology techniques reaches critical mass, and we will begin deriving a substantial fraction of our transportation fuels from synthetic biology sources?
2020? 2030? 2040?

223. For all those who dispute peak oil based on what’s in the ground:
Peak Oil matters because ‘The flows matter’

Consumers need delivery flows

Reserves are only useful as flows

Peak oil is when flowscan’tmeet the demand

The oil industry is slow moving and predictable

Flows can be geologically constrained –e.g., the North Sea

Flows can be politically constrained –e.g., Russia, Saudi Arabia

Flows can be physically constrained –e.g., Nigeria

Flows can be skills constrained –e.g., lack of experienced engineers

Flows can be capital or access constrained –e.g., Mexico, Venezuela

Many talk ofreserves andignore flows

Others talk about access and ignore flows
Thanks to:
Stephen Harris says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Here’s a great ppt from ASPO on reserves, production, consumption and all that.
http://www.aspo9.be/assets/ASPO9_Thu_28_April_Skrebowski.pdf

224. MAtthew Epp says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am
“What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil? We keep hearing about this mythical alternative, but we never see anything close to oil. It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.”
Man you really are a doom and gloomer. …
Relax, take a chill pill and enjoy your day.
Cheers!
———–
I already posted a source about the longevity of shale gas. It’s not going to last much longer none of them are making any money at it. Depletion rates are horrendous.
Thanks for helping prove my point. If it isn’t profittable right now then the reserves will be there when we need them and it becomes more economical. Horizontal drilling techniques will only continue to improve and become more efficient and cost effective . As oil becomes more and more expensive, more drivers will add CNG to their vehicles which will increase demand forNatural gas. Hence prices will rise and the drillers and producers will be able to enjoy a profit for the gas. We are in no danger from the supply of oil harming us and our economy, much more so from the govt than oil depletion.
Cheers
Matthew

225. Smokey says:

Stephen Harris,
Announcing a future increase in oil supplies routinely causes the world price to plunge. When President Bush announced in July 2008 that he was lifting executive ban on offshore oil drilling, the price declined by \$10 a barrel overnight. The decline continued to \$20, but then Congress refused to act, so the price began to rise again.
OPEC members, especially the Saudis, constantly manipulate the markets by front running them – buying and selling puts and calls in the billion dollar range ahead of announcements that more or less oil will be produced. In the long term the price is determined by supply and demand, but oil shocks and international crises are not long term.

226. John A. Fleming says:

I think this graph is too simplistic, and overstates the years left. Proven reserves are the total expected extraction. The extraction rate for every well dwindles over time. There comes a point when all operating wells can no longer keep up with demand, and there aren’t enough new wells to make up the difference. That’s peak oil, and it’s closer than 40 years.

227. Doug says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm
elbatrop says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:38 am
@ MarkW
new big fields huh? like?
when was the last time the world found a field in excess of 100gigabarrels that had a potential flow rate once developed in the millions of barrels per day range?
—————-
None since the 1960′s, thats the problem.
———————————————————————————————–
How about this one–2006, 748 TCF of gas, equivalent to 120 billion barrels of oil. Sure that’s gas, but we can substitute gas for oil in many places without an apocalypse (every bus in New Delhi has already done it) A bit of gas substitution, added to all the new discoveries in deep water and all the horizontal multi frac oil, and we are sitting pretty. Like catastrophic AWG, time expose the chicken littles.
“Gaffney, Cline & Associates (GCA) said Turkmenistan’s South Iolotan natural gas field is the world’s second-largest, with an estimated 21.2 trillion cu m (tcm) of gas reserves. Supergiant Iolotan field was discovered in the country’s Amu Daria basin in late-2006 (OGJ Online, Nov. 22, 2006).
In a recent presentation, Jim Gillett, GCA business development manager, said South Iolotan’s latest reserves estimate make it second only to giant South Pars gas field, shared by Turkmenistan and Qatar.
“Turkmenistan’s gas reserves are more than enough for any potential demand over the foreseeable future, whether it be from China, Russia, Iran, or Europe,” Gillett said.
However, Gillet said estimates of the central Asian nation’s reserves could increase even more, noting that in addition to South Iolotan, the country’s Yashlar field has substantial gas, too.”

228. More Soylent Green! says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I find a debate over the definition of peak oil useless. What does it mean — not the definition, but what do you think it means? You say we have experienced Peak Oil? So what?
How is it you write so much, yet say very little?

• Stephen Harris says:

@ MSG:
You asked what Peak Oil means. Here a link to study performed buy the University of Canterbury, NZ on the effects of Peak Oil on urbanism. The short answer is that we’ll have to dramatically change our built environment from a car dependent sprawl to a much higher density living with much more transit: A costly and large undertaking.
The oil shock of 2008 which was the pin that popped the housing bubble showed just how bad it is to be so auto dependent. We are now in the beginning phase of Peak Oil and it will unfold more fully in the years ahead with worse consequences unless we act to change now.
http://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/10092/4133/1/12626097_Urban%20form%20and%20fuel%20shortage%20risk.pdf

229. Smokey says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm
jrwakefield says:
“Peak oil is not about what’s in the ground, it’s about how fast it can be extracted compared to demand. It only takes a small drop in production relative to demand to drive prices through the roof. That’s simple economics.”
We are in complete agreement on that point. The solution to the artificial supply shortage is for government to encourage new exploration and drilling, instead of fighting energy production tooth and nail. The problem of high gas prices and the rising cost of goods and services that require fossil fuel use is entirely due to government interference in the free market.
————
I’m not against any production. I think we should produce everything we can as best we can that has a net energy return as we transition this society off oil as we return to the 1800s.
The big problem with converting to an alternative source that replaces oil to keeping us going as is will require energy diverted from the ecomomy into changing over. That’s the same as accelerating depletion. We would need vast quantities of oil, removed from society, to move us off oil. Catch 22.

230. More Soylent Green! says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm
jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm
I find a debate over the definition of peak oil useless. What does it mean — not the definition, but what do you think it means? You say we have experienced Peak Oil? So what?
How is it you write so much, yet say very little?
—-
Then you are not understanding. This is what happens. Oil production drops, demand keeps rising. But consumption can only meet the supply regardless of the demand. That small discrepency drives up the price of oil as a spike. That causes everything in society, especially food, to also spike. More money spent on energy means less on other things, like debt payments. Defaults occur, the country goes into recession, the price of oil drops as demand evaporates below production. now the price of oil is too low for alternatives or costly unconventional sources. The ecomony recovers, but hits a lower ceiling of oil production, price spikes, and into recession again. And we drop over decades in these tight cycles of not just no growth, but “negative growth”. The ecomomy over all never recovers, and there is no money, no growth, to pursue other options of energy.
Is that enough?

231. Doug says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm
How about this one–2006, 748 TCF of gas, equivalent to 120 billion barrels of oil. Sure that’s gas, but we can substitute gas for oil in many places without an apocalypse (every bus in New Delhi has already done it) A bit of gas substitution, added to all the new discoveries in deep water and all the horizontal multi frac oil, and we are sitting pretty. Like catastrophic AWG, time expose the chicken littles
———–
Shale gas? Way over estimated. You are still making the same mistake as the others. You are focusing on what’s in the ground. FLOW RATE is what counts. Will those deposits flow sufficiently fast enough to supply all those markets? No.

232. Doug says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:35 am
US oil production:
—————————————————————————————–
Good of you to truncate your data where convenient. You have a future in climate science. US crude output has gone up 18% since 2008.
And do you really believe all those companies are drilling all those shale gas wells and losing money? We in the oil business are pretty good at turning a profit. A few wells could be some small company stock hype, but tens of thousands of wells, producing 34% of out total production show that your claims are delusional. Gas prices have dropped from \$13 to \$3, and we are still drilling.

233. Septic Matthew says:

Good essay by Willis. Looking at the production curve, maybe peak oil is now, and the peak is a wide mesa, not a sharp point. It is requiring more and more investment of labor, cash and energy to extract each new million bbl of oil, on average.
December 14, 2011 at 5:27 am
along with David L. Hagen’s subsequent posts.
With cost and availability trend lines as they have been recently, fuel from solar will become cheaper, on an energy-equivalent basis, than fuel from petroleum (as it already is in Brazil, counting cane ethanol as fuel from solar), and only subsequent to that will fuel costs decline, because consumption is going to continue to increase. That’s my expectation, anyway. Thus, peak oil is not a problem precisely because we (US, EU, Japan, China, S. Africa, Brazil) are investing resources to develop alternatives and reduce their costs.

234. MAtthew Epp says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm
———–
I already posted a source about the longevity of shale gas. It’s not going to last much longer none of them are making any money at it. Depletion rates are horrendous.
Thanks for helping prove my point. If it isn’t profittable right now then the reserves will be there when we need them and it becomes more economical. Horizontal drilling techniques will only continue to improve and become more efficient and cost effective . As oil becomes more and more expensive, more drivers will add CNG to their vehicles which will increase demand forNatural gas. Hence prices will rise and the drillers and producers will be able to enjoy a profit for the gas. We are in no danger from the supply of oil harming us and our economy, much more so from the govt than oil depletion.
Cheers
Matthew
—————
Then you are not understanding the economic consequences of high energy prices. Once energy cuts in as a higher percent of people’s expenses, then they have less for other things, like paying their loans. Higher prices cause recessions, which drops demand and the price. Thus the price never gets high enough long enough to make difficult deposits viable. That’s not including the thousands each person would have to spend to make the change over.

235. Alberta Slim says:

jrwakefield says:
“Not one oil field can be shown to be of abiotic. EVERY oil field has a biological source rock.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the people that think that there is abiotic oil, do not disagree that the source rock is biological. They claim that the OIL is abiotic, and the oil was trapped in the biological source rock while migrating.
http://www.viewzone.com/abioticoilx.html

236. Dave says:

Chart the breakdown of consumption on that chart and it will tell an altogether more revealing story. Peak oil has already occurred. If world oil production could respond to increased Chinese consumption it would have.
The major issue for the US is that it is now competing for the same oil that China is. Given the strength of the US economy is hugely dependent upon how much it pays for its oil this can only signify continuing trouble for the US.
This will be seen via a weakening US dollar. You could argue that if recessions in EU and the US decrease demand then Chinese oil consumption will eventually flatline but that ignores domestic growth in that country.
Unless world oil production taps these “mythical” reserves I see nothing but severe economic pain for the US, Europe and other Western nations for the foreseeable future.
Australia the company I live in has only been spared (well relatively spared) the type of trouble that Europe and the US are seeing because the strength of our economy is based upon export of massive amounts of raw materials to China.

237. Ralph says:

.
The reality of Peak Oil is real. (Peak Oil = demand exceeding production).
This is a graph of US production vs consumption, and the US passed its national Peak Oil point back in the 1950s. This means that if Iran shuts the Straits of Hormuz, as they were threatening to do this week, then the US is already deep inside a Peak Oil induced oil shock. It doesn’t matter how much oil is in the ground – if it is not getting to the USA, there will be a Peak Oil crisis.
Here is Mexico, hitting its own Peak Oil in the 2020 mark.
Here is Australia, hitting its own Peak Oil in the 1990s (although it could use its vast reserves of coal, if the government would allow it.)
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0BlNdzf8SdQ/TtxkHDgCLvI/AAAAAAAAAAQ/kbSSzLHEnV8/s400/AustraliaOilProductionConsumption.PNG
The UK and Europe are also long past their own local Peak Oil points.
This means that the major economies of the world (including China) are heavily dependent on world trade continuing, to plug their local Peak Oil crisis. Any major conflict or disruption to oil deliveries, and all of the developed world will suffering a Peak Oil slow-down.
.
But that is not all. Here is the trend for new discoveries of oil, which has been declining sharply in recent decades.
http://www.beodom.com/assets/images/education/peakoil/world-oil-discovery-10-years-period.jpg
But all those big old oil fields from the 1970s (which may indeed have billions and billions of of barrels in reserves) are getting harder and harder to extract. Thus Peak Oil (stalled production vs rising demand), may come sooner than you think. There is no point counting on oil that is firmly stuck in the ground – that is not simply counting your chickens before they have hatched, that is counting chickens before the hen has even layed!!
“Darn it Martha, I know there’s another chick inside their somewhere…..” 😉
.

238. Ralph says:

>>More Soylent Green! says: December 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm
>>I find a debate over the definition of peak oil useless. What does
>>it mean? You say we have experienced Peak Oil? So what?
We are rather presuming that everyone understands the calamity of the 1970s oil shock (a politically produced Peak Oil.)
Lots of things happen in a Peak Oil crisis. Oil prices go through the roof, cars queue for hours at filling stations, transport does not deliver the goods, aircraft tickets treble in price, factories stand idle, people are laid off, holidays are cancelled, business go bust, hotels go bust, people have no money, people have no heating in winter etc: etc:
I could go on, but you get the picture. We have been so isolated from previous dramas, with our reliable modern energy sources, that we have forgotten what it was like to have no electricity once a fortnight. But with today’s economy, with everything dependent on computer wizardry, the consequences of energy shortages may be much worse than in the past.
.

239. JRWakefield’s verbal diarrhea (misinformation) again requires correction. It matters not there have been no giant fields discovered. Present proved reserves will not be exhausted ’til 2049. Each year last decade, the sector added 50-Gb to proves reserves and consumed only 32.
It is utterly false that “price spikes are due to depletion”. Most are due to geopolitical events and/or temporary refining capacity mismatches.
The only petroleum price induced economic recessions in the last three decades occurred when several G-20 nations fell victim in 2008Q2. This excludes the USA whose economy is too diverse and per capita income too high to make it vulnerable. Steven Kopits (douglas-westwood) & neophyte economist James Hamilton are stalwart in perpetuating the myth with shoddy white papers. Their presentation to Congress this Spring warned of mass global recessions should oil exceed \$85. Within several months oil reached \$113 and there was no gnashing of teeth. My own studies reveal G-20 petroleum induced recessions cannot occur ’til contract crude surpasses \$121/barrel (\$105 today).
With full respect to Skrebowski, his worst case scenario (bottom-up) methodology has inherent flaws and he is second only to Colin Campbell in the category of documented upward revisions to Peak Rate and Peak Year.
http://www.trendlines.ca/free/peakoil

240. elbatrop says:

@ Doug
Daniel Yergin being cited LOL
his track record has been abysmal
tell ya what take your stuff here and explain it to the rest of the industry and see how you fare:
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8212

241. More Soylent Green! says:

Ralph says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm
>>More Soylent Green! says: December 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm
>>I find a debate over the definition of peak oil useless. What does
>>it mean? You say we have experienced Peak Oil? So what?
We are rather presuming that everyone understands the calamity of the 1970s oil shock (a politically produced Peak Oil.)
Lots of things happen in a Peak Oil crisis. Oil prices go through the roof, cars queue for hours at filling stations, transport does not deliver the goods, aircraft tickets treble in price, factories stand idle, people are laid off, holidays are cancelled, business go bust, hotels go bust, people have no money, people have no heating in winter etc: etc:
I could go on, but you get the picture. We have been so isolated from previous dramas, with our reliable modern energy sources, that we have forgotten what it was like to have no electricity once a fortnight. But with today’s economy, with everything dependent on computer wizardry, the consequences of energy shortages may be much worse than in the past.

That’s kind of like saying if there’s an ice age, we’re all going to be cold.

242. Alberta Slim says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm
jrwakefield says:
“Not one oil field can be shown to be of abiotic. EVERY oil field has a biological source rock.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the people that think that there is abiotic oil, do not disagree that the source rock is biological. They claim that the OIL is abiotic, and the oil was trapped in the biological source rock while migrating.
http://www.viewzone.com/abioticoilx.html
————–
Let’s look at Tupi as an example. The host rock is just above the biological source rock, which is just above the basaltic oceanic crustal rock. So their view is somehow this oil made in the asthenosphere migrated through the solid basalt layer, and completely co-incidentally moved through a biological horizon to the current host capped by salt. And ONLY at that location which happened to have a biological layer, and NO WHERE ELSE! Rather interesting co-incidence that EVERY oil field happend to go through a biological horizon, and not one oil field missed a biological horizon.
Where is the physical discriminatory evidence that oil comes from non-biological sources?

243. otsar says:

Ajones is quite correct. I [w]as a victim of the oil price crash in 82. I had to go back to college and re invent myself. Some one may have mentioned it, but I may have missed it, is the fact that most of the oil is still left in the reservoir after we stop exploiting it. With better extraction techniques the proven oil reserves go up significantly.

244. MAtthew Epp says:

Jrwakefield,
I get the economics of higher energy prices, the markets adapt, people adapt. Gasoline is in the low \$3.00/ gallon range, I remember only 8 years ago it was hovering close to \$2.00/ gallon and everyone predicted the collapse of society if gas reached \$3.00/ gallon.
While we have seen the recession created in part due to higher gasoline prices, we are also seeing a recovery albeit abysmal for other reasons thanks to this administration, but people have by and large adapted to higher fuel prices.
Spending is up this holiday season, which indicates people must have more disposable income or at least the confidence that their income will be sufficient to cover their charges. Either way, the higher prices haven’t been a destructive force.
Admittedly the costs of switching over to natural gas are in the thousands, the price will decrease as more and more people decide to switch over their existing cars and will really become economical once the car companies start manufacturing vehicles as flex fuels.
The cost of gas is cheap relative to gasoline and the convenience of being able to fill up at home over night will begin to appeal to more and more people futrthering the expansion.
Natural gas reserves are extremely plentiful, and not just shale gas.
You tipped your hand however in your reply to Smokey when you talked about us transitioning to the 1800’s? If you really believe that then I apologize for wasting your time talking about the future. You are hopelessly stuck in the past.
Cheers,
Matthew

245. JRWakefield’s misinformation again requires correction. It matters not there have been no giant fields discovered. Present proved reserves will not be exhausted ’til 2049. Each year last decade, the sector added 50-Gb to proves reserves and consumed only 32.
It is utterly false that “price spikes are due to depletion”. Most are due to geopolitical events and/or temporary refining capacity mismatches.
The only petroleum price induced economic recessions in the last three decades occurred when several G-20 nations fell victim in 2008Q2. This excludes the USA whose economy is too diverse and per capita income too high to make it vulnerable. Steven Kopits (douglas-westwood) & economist James Hamilton are stalwart in perpetuating the myth with shoddy white papers. Their presentation to Congress this Spring warned of mass global recessions should oil exceed \$85. Within several months oil reached \$113 and there was no gnashing of teeth. My own studies reveal G-20 petroleum induced recessions cannot occur ’til contract crude surpasses \$121/barrel (\$105 today).
With full respect to Skrebowski, his worst case scenario (bottom-up) methodology has inherent flaws and thus he is second only to Colin Campbell in the category of documented repeated upward revisions to Peak Rate and Peak Year.
http://www.trendlines.ca/free/peakoil

246. The price of oil increased five-fold in the last 10 years. Nuff said.
It is easy to print dollars and raise the debt-ceiling.
It is very difficult to get oil out of the oceanfloor or from underneath the polar ice.
Peakoil is real 🙂

247. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “If we can extract it more cheaply (in an energy sense) the ERoEI goes up, so we can sidestep it with technology …”
But that “more efficient” technology doesn’t exist. You dont want to push ahead with renewable technologies because they’re expensive and you dont want to invest in the R&D now but instead you want to push ahead with fossil fuels even though we dont have the technology yet to keep them lower than renewable cost, let alone know how much it will cost to R&D or how long it will take to get the required infrastructure in place?

248. those deposits flow sufficiently fast enough to supply all those markets? No.
Doug says:
December 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm
jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:35 am
US oil production:
—————————————————————————————–
Good of you to truncate your data where convenient. You have a future in climate science. US crude output has gone up 18% since 2008.
And do you really believe all those companies are drilling all those shale gas wells and losing money? We in the oil business are pretty good at turning a profit. A few wells could be some small company stock hype, but tens of thousands of wells, producing 34% of out total production show that your claims are delusional. Gas prices have dropped from \$13 to \$3, and we are still drilling.
————
Why are you shooting the messenger? Its not my study, I just posted a link to a study that shows this to be the case and how they are getting away with it.
US oil production is still far below 1970’s. Currently 9.688 million bbl/day. Far below the 20mb/day it consumes.

249. MAtthew Epp says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm
Jrwakefield,
I get the economics of higher energy prices, the markets adapt, people adapt. Gasoline is in the low \$3.00/ gallon range, I remember only 8 years ago it was hovering close to \$2.00/ gallon and everyone predicted the collapse of society if gas reached \$3.00/ gallon.
———-
——–
Spending is up this holiday season, which indicates people must have more disposable income or at least the confidence that their income will be sufficient to cover their charges. Either way, the higher prices haven’t been a destructive force.
——
Spending via more debt.
———
Natural gas reserves are extremely plentiful, and not just shale gas.
——
No, convensional gas deposits in NA have been on a terminal decline since 1995. Google it.
——–
You tipped your hand however in your reply to Smokey when you talked about us transitioning to the 1800′s? If you really believe that then I apologize for wasting your time talking about the future. You are hopelessly stuck in the past.
Cheers,
Matthew
——–
Not a tip. Logic. Without plentiful energy we will lose our cars, return to local food production, spend more time producing food, transport by horse. In a fuel constrained world fuel will be rationed for only those priorities such as food production. People will move back to horse transport. Star trek will never happen. That’s assuming there is no world war over resources.

250. Freddy Hutter, TrendLines Research says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm
JRWakefield’s misinformation again requires correction. It matters not there have been no giant fields discovered. Present proved reserves will not be exhausted ’til 2049. Each year last decade, the sector added 50-Gb to proves reserves and consumed only 32.
———
Same mistake over and over. Assume that 50gb is correct. It will not flow as fast as the 32 it replaced. You are still looking at what’s in the ground and ignoring what peak oil is about — production decline, flow rate loss.

251. Ralph says:
December 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm
>>More Soylent Green! says: December 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm
>>I find a debate over the definition of peak oil useless. What does
>>it mean? You say we have experienced Peak Oil? So what?
We are rather presuming that everyone understands the calamity of the 1970s oil shock (a politically produced Peak Oil.)
—-
No it was the year US production started its terminal decline and the Saudis refused to make up the difference. The ultimate cause was US peaking production.

252. The story of forgetting or getting rid of Fossil Based Fuels (FBF) is Ferry Tale for the near futures.
The only way is enhancing technology to have effective fuel consumption until the FBF is no longer needed.
Fortunately! we enough carbon dioxide and the CO2 sources from the ecosystem is 10 times more than man made CO2. We don’t forget that before the OIL ERA, the system was working properly, so we know that however the time will come and the balance between new energies would be changed from oil to new ones, cheaper and more reliable.

253. How much fossil fuel (coal and hydrocarbons) is there on the planet?
This ‘back of an envelope’ calculation was triggered by the following paragraph in Prof. David Bellamy’s paper presented at our St Ives Climate Conference in March this year (2011):
FOSSIL FUELS
Fossil fuels are predominantly carbon. This carbon all came from the atmosphere and became locked away in the earth during the carboniferous period. Pre the carboniferous period, there was over 4,000 ppm. This has been down as low as 270 ppm and is now about 385 ppm. These figures would indicate there is still very large deposits of carbon based energy product to be found.” (full text available on request).
My first thoughts on this statement were that much CO2 has been sequestered into carbonates such as limestone and dolomite which, though technically a reservoir of carbon, was not available as fuel (being a product of oxidation of carbon anyway), so how could one estimate how much ‘free combustible carbon’ remained?
Then I had a lateral thought. It doesn’t matter about these deposits because the key measure of ‘free carbon’ is given by how much ‘free oxygen’ is around. This free oxygen came from CO2 in the first place, leaving ‘free carbon’ behind.
A preliminary calculation
We will assume that all the carbon on the early earth existed as CO2.
All CO2 that is sequestered in limestone, dolomite etc (CaCO3 and MgCO3) is not available as fossil fuel as it is already carbon in its oxidised state (as is CO2 in the atmosphere). This therefore need not concern our calculation.
The amount of carbon still existing as coal, oil or gas is the approximate amount of fossil fuel available on the planet – not all may be accessible.
Reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon (and hydrocarbons) is essentially what photosynthesis achieves. Sunlight, plus CO2, plus water produce sugars (CnH2nOn), which are basically carbon plus water, and release free oxygen.
As well as free oxygen we must add in the amount of iron oxide created some 3000 million years ago, when the free oxygen generated by photosynthesis (stromatolyte activity) reacted with free iron on the planet to form iron ore.
Therefore the amount of free oxygen plus that in iron ore is an indirect measure of the amount of free carbon and hydrocarbons still in or on the earth’s crust.
Mass of iron in the earth’s crust (5% of crust 1.365 × 10^23 kg) » 7 × 10^21 kg
Mass of oxygen in the iron ore is 0.43 × 7 × 10^21 kg » 3 × 10^21 kg
Mass of free carbon therefore is 0.375 × 3 × 10^21 kg » 1 × 10^21 kg
This must still exist as free carbon (such as coal) or further reduced hydrocarbons.
This means that the available fossil fuel is of the order of 10^21 kg or 10^18 tonne or 10^9 gigatonne, that is one billion gigatonne.
Current known oil reserves are around 100 gigatonne. So actual resources of fossil fuels is at around ten million times current reserves.
This is no more than an order of magnitude calculation. Even if the estimates are out by two or three orders of magnitude the overall picture is pretty encouraging… no likelihood of fossil fuels running out for the next few million years! Of course this calculation doesn’t indicate where these fossil fuels are to be found but does reassure us that they are there to be found.
They’ll see me out, that’s for sure!
Email: philip.foster17@ntlworld.com

254. sorry…correction:
….Fortunately! We have enough carbon dioxide and the CO2 sources from the ecosystem that is 10 times more than man made CO2…..

255. Dale Thompson says:

It is more difficult to get the oil reserves into production… i.e. the proven reserves are not equally accessible. You need to stratify in terms of how much it costs to get the oil out.
E.g., How much of the proven reserve is extractable at \$100 a barrel? How many years of \$30, \$50, \$100 oil is proven?

256. World, U.S. Oil Production Rises In 2010
http://www.dailymarkets.com/stock/2011/06/08/world-u-s-oil-production-rises-in-2010/
Worldwide Production Trends
Production in the North Sea is in terminal and rapid decline. Norway’s production fell by 9.4% in 2010 relative to 2009, and is down 13.1% from 2008 levels. Since 2000, Norwegian production has plunged by 36.1%.
In the U.K. production was 7.7% lower than in 2009 and 12.3% lower than in 2008 and is off 49.8% since 2000. The North Sea is especially important in that it is production that comes from a politically stable part of the world.
Mexico is not quite as politically stable as Norway, but at least it has the virtue of being close to home. It too has been facing long-term production challenges, although the decline slowed significantly in 2010, dropping just 0.8%, but it is still 6.6% below 2008 levels and down 14,3% from 2000.

257. Robmax says:

jrwakefield says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:52 am
Robmax says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:37 am
With the amount of oil that is released every year through natural oil seeps around the world, it’s got to be coming from somewhere. Just in the gulf of Mexico alone, the equivalent of two EXXON Valdez sized spills are released every year by natural seeps.
An introduction to the modern petroleum science, and to the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.
http://www.gasresources.net/Introduction.htm
———-
Not sure why this has to be stated over and over, but I will again. NOT ONE oil field can be shown to be abiotic. EVERY oil field found so far have biological source rocks.
********************************
The presence of a material where you would expect to find it is not proof of cause or source. Would the absence of oil in source rock not then be proof of abiotic oil such as in a dry hole.

258. … and you got your numbers from BP? Well, they wouldn’t lie to us about something that important would they? Please don’t come knocking at my door should you run out of stuff.

259. JRWakefield, nobody disputes peak oil. It is inevitable whether it be by Demand Peak or Geologic Peak. It is the 23-yr campaign of annual declarations stating “last year was the peak” which causes the proponents of “imminent” peak oil to be dismissed by the media, governments, co-workers, families, neighbours & ex-friends.
The Hubbert Curve was designed to predict and give guidance for the peak of regular conventional oil (light sweet crude). It was never deemed to be applicable to All Liquids where each of the eleven streams has a unique production profile. In that regards, URR does not matter. It is probable Peak A/L will occur at 24%. And the suggestion by McPeaksters peak flow occurs 20 years after peak discoveries is just more pure silliness when discussing A/L..

260. Steve O says:

When oil costs \$250 a barrel, we will “need” a lot less of it.
Trust me. I’ve seen it before.

261. Jeremy says:

jrwakerfield says”What alternative is there that has the same energy density, in liquid form, as oil? We keep hearing about this mythical alternative, but we never see anything close to oil. It’s going to take decades to switch over, we need to start now if some alternative exists.”
No we don’t need to start anything. This is typical left wing communist thinking. The kind of perverse belief that everything needs central planning by the “wiseguys” like jrwakefield because everybody else is too stupid to see the “end-of-the-world” just around the corner.
People like jrwakefield are just like climate scientists with their chicken little stories. They want interventionist policies to spend taxpayer money finding solutions to problems that DON’T EXIST!
There is NO CATASTROPHE. There is shortage of oil that will lead to a “peak”. There is plenty of Oil & Gas for at least several generations and ultimately as prices rise then substitutes will become more economic and eventually we will migrate to those alternatives. The PEAK of OIL will of course come but NEVER because we actually run out of the stuff but simply because alternatives (and conservation) will eventually become more and more attractive.
Jeez…this thread, courtesy of jrwakefield, looks like a chicken little CAGW thread from the eco-doomsayers or from the malthusian world overpopulation scare-mongers! This hyperbole does not belong on a science website.

262. Roh234 says:

A few words:
OPEC and the Oil monopoly
We have about like 40 years worth of good growth left. Don’t get me wrong I’m not some lefty who advocates the change to useless crap. I have confidence that the market will find a better source before we even have to worry about a depression.

263. Andrew30 says:

Hans Verbeek says: December 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm
[The price of oil increased five-fold in the last 10 years. Nuff said]
“Price” as in paper currency (dollars) per barrel, or “price” as in other real thing per barrel.
Check ounces or gold per barrel, tones of copper per barrel, ingots of aluminum barrel, etc.
Now, using what you have learned, and with an understanding of what ‘inflation adjusted’ and ’19xx dollar terms’ mean; please clarify ‘The price of oil increased five-fold in the last 10 years”; or Did you mean that oil has gotten less expensive when compared to other commodities in the last 10 years?
Do you know what the phrase ‘5 fold’, means?
Take a piece of paper (thickness of 1), fold it five times, you have a thickness of 32, ‘five fold’ is a 32 times increase. Oil today at about 150/bbl would have has to have been \$4.68/bbl in 2001. It was not.
You have no idea what you are writing about.

264. Andrew30 says:

Hans Verbeek says: December 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm
[The price of oil increased five-fold in the last 10 years. Nuff said.]
“Price” as in paper currency (dollars) per barrel, or “price” as in other real thing per barrel.
Check ounces or gold per barrel, tones of copper per barrel, ingots of aluminum barrel, etc.
Now, using what you have learned, and with an understanding of what ‘inflation adjusted’ and ’19xx dollar terms’ mean; please clarify ‘The price of oil increased five-fold in the last 10 years’, or did you mean that it has gotten less expensive when compared to other commodities in the last 10 years?
Do you know what the phrase ‘5 fold’, means?
Take a piece of paper (thickness of 1), fold it five times, you have a thickness of 32, ‘five fold’ is a 32 times increase. Oil today at about \$150/bbl would have has to have been \$4.68/bbl in December 2001. It was not, you are have no facts, you are wrong, you do not understand math, economics or business. Say in school.
You have no idea what you are writing about. Nuff said.

265. Spector says:

RE: Main Article
“I’m just registering my protest against the meme of “OMG we’re running out of oil we must change energy sources right now tomorrow!!”. It is simply not true. We have plenty of time. We have decades. We don’t have to blow billions of dollars of our money subsidizing solar and wind and biofuels. The world has enough oil to last for a long while, plenty long enough for the market to determine whatever the next energy source might be.”
We may have decades, but I seriously doubt centuries. I believe this is a warning that we should be looking for a practical, sustainable replacement for carbon power such as inexhaustible thorium nuclear power. If the world decides that only ‘renewable’ power based on energy from the sun is politically acceptable, then you might expect to see the formation of something like a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Population Control with super-governmental authority to manage a planned global population regression back to pre-carbon era levels.
I see little reason to expect a world limited to traditional ‘renewables’ would support a population and general lifestyle (horse and bicycle) much more advanced than in 1880, and I suspect that many of the current advanced ‘renewable’ energy projects would not be practical in a world devoid of abundant carbon power.

266. Smokey says:

Andrew 30 says:
“Do you know what the phrase ’5 fold’, means?
Take a piece of paper (thickness of 1), fold it five times, you have a thickness of 32, ‘five fold’ is a 32 times increase.”
I don’t think that’s correct. From my handy online dictionary:
-fold
1 in an amount multiplied by : threefold.

So 5-fold would mean five times greater. At least that’s how I’ve always understood it.

267. Dave Springer says on December 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

Major advances in biofuel are inevitable. The key is synthetic biology. Evolution just didn’t produce the perfect organism for production of fuel oil or ethanol. Direct production of fuel oil from water, sun, and air is something that has no survival value in nature. Evolution never selected for it so where it exists it’s generally an undesireable byproduct of metabolism that evolution tends to minimize rather than maximize.
Synthetic biology changes all that. …
This is our next technological revolution. It’s coming soon and it’s a biggie as far as revolutions go. I’d say it’s the biggest thing since writing was invented.

Notwithstanding the ‘input of energy’ from some unspecified source (including, but not limited to, certain feedstocks, required ‘nutrients’ etc for this/these ‘processes’) huh …
Can I say “Forthcoming Bubble”?
.

268. Philip Foster says on December 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm
How much fossil fuel (coal and hydrocarbons) is there on the planet?
This ‘back of an envelope’ calculation was …

Current known oil reserves are around 100 gigatonne. So actual resources of fossil fuels is at around ten million times current reserves.
This is no more than an order of magnitude calculation. Even if the estimates are out by two or three orders of magnitude …

And I don’t suppose the Exxons and BP haven’t done these kinds of calculations but the ‘junior wakefields’ and PkOilers have? /sarc to the max …
Interesting post BTW.
.

269. meemoe_uk says:

The whole Hubbert thing… is massively overrated as well. It’s not the testament to geologic peakoil that peakers like to believe.
Hubbert was able to predict 1970 US peakoil because by the early 1950s it was clear to anyone savvy with the oil industy that easier oil had been found in Arabia. The US didn’t geologically peak. It peaked because industry abandoned it.
The US 1970 peak is more a testament to easier cheaper oil than to harder oil due to geological constraint.
( but don’t tell peakers this, they won’t have it )
This kind of thing has happened serveral thousand times over in the mining \ extraction industries world wide. A cheaper source is found, the old source is abandoned. Where I live, North UK, used to be a world centre for coal mining. None of it now. Because of North UK geologic peak coal ? No. It’s cheaper and easier from abroad.
That peakers have enshrined Hubbert’s trivial con-trick prediction as one of 10 commandments of peak_Oil_is_Now, pretty much sums them up – People who love hysteria rather than seeing the mundane truth.

270. Doug says:

I was reading Oil and Gas Journal (October 3rd)on all the new liquids plays coming out of the continued advances in horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracs. An interesting statistic was cited:
“Goldman Sachs economists in an Aug. 8 8 note forecast US oil production, which includes natural gas liquids, at 8.06 million b/d for 2011, and 10.27 for 2017”
I looked up what our historical production of crude plus NGL has been and found a nice graph from 2007 by the great French pessimist Jean Laherrere.
http://www.aspousa.org/index.php/peak-oil-reference/peak-oil
He shows a nice steady decline from a peak of just over 11 million a day in about 1970, projecting to something around 5 million by 2017.
A sharp reversal of the decline has already occurred. Absent a major price drop, I would not be surprised to see domestic liquids production reach a new peak.
People like JRWakefield are just defending preconceived notions. To quote John Maynard Keynes:
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”

271. otsar says:

After I left the oil industry because the price of oil crashed, I went into the semiconductor industry. At that time the tale was we cannot make a microprocessor bigger than xxxxx bipolar transistors because it will burn up. Then MOS happened, the new tale became we cannot make a microprocessor bigger than xxxxxx because it will burn up. Then CMOS happened and the new tale became xxxxxxxx. Then the new tale became we cannot make the lines less than 1 micron. Now we are producing microprocessors that have 32 nM lines, have xxxxxxxxx transistors and are not burning up. The microprocessor parts that are not being used are not turned on until they are needed, enabling even higher comlexity. There are allways those that see a small bump on the road ahead and like to predict doom and gloom and predict it cannot be climbed. The doom and gloom mind set would also predict that a creature with no fur, small teeth with a small jaw, no claws, and little strength, would not make it in the jungle if they did not know ahead of time what the species was.
I am seeing new semiconductor products that are going to go into energy management that will significantly reduce our comsumtion by managing it. Equipment that is not turned on until needed, lights that are off until needed and then turned off again. Water heated at the point of use, eliminating a separate hot water system and all of the associated hardware. Even though the individual heaters are less efficient in the overall scheme of things in a large building they produce big cost and energy savings. I am seeing new LED technology with variable color temperature that consume 80% less than conventional lighting. Automotive engine controllers that allow engines to skip firing cycles without causing problems (Diesel and gasoline). The list goes on. It will take time for the energy saving equipment to seep into our infrastucture, but as time goes on, I suspect it will put a serious dent on our energy consumtion.

272. Hans Verbeek says on December 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm
The price of oil increased five-fold in the last 10 years. Nuff said.

As measured in: Dollars or equiv weight in Ag or Au?
(Beware the paper fiat ‘currency’)
.

273. Jeremy says on December 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Jeez…this thread, courtesy of jrwakefield, looks like a chicken little CAGW thread from the eco-doomsayers or from the malthusian world overpopulation scare-mongers! This hyperbole does not belong on a science website.

Fortunately, ‘junior’ wakefield is easily identifiable and nearly as irritating as an incessant OWS (Occupy Wall Street) drummer to boot …
.

274. James F. Evans says:

JRWakefield: “Read up on the Oil Window.”
Oil has been found deeper than the supposed “oil window” at temperatures of over 400 degrees Fahrenheit (Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Brazil). The “oil window” stated that oil can’t exist at temperatures above 270 degrees Fahrenheit.
The “oil window” hypothesis has been falsified by observation & measurement in the field.
For those interested in the evidence for Abiotic Oil, here is a link that presents many scientific papers supporting Abiotic Oil and newspaper and other literature and commentary and discussion.
http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2150

275. elbatrop says:

@ meemoe_uk
so you can back this up with data correct? oops no you can’t
care to explain the rig count and drilling activity in the US from the late 60’s onward?

276. Willis Eschenbach says:

Stephen Harris says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:40 am

@Doug
U.S. oil production peaked at 9.1 mbd in 1971. It’s been in decline ever since, despite finds in Alaska and the Gulf. Current production is about 4.2 mbd.

Well, let’s just fact check that a bit. Here’s the data from the BP Statistical Review …

So lets see. US oil production did peak, but it was in 1970, not 1971, and it peaked at 11.3 mbd (million barrels per day), not 9.1 mbd.
It hasn’t been in decline “ever since”. It declined for a while, then increased and peaked again in 1985, at 10.6 mbd. It hit the lowest point in 2008, but that was at 6.7 mbd, not 4.2 mbd as you claim.
Finally, US oil production increased by 12% from 2008 to 2010, and in the most recent year was 7.5 mbd …
So other than everything you claimed being incorrect, the rest of your statement was good.
w.

277. elbatrop says:

@ Doug
“domestic liquids” isn’t crude oil, it is everything including ethanol
actual crude oil + condensates rising to 9 million plus barrels per day or basically almost doubling isn’t gonna happen and that can be checked by using current data plus projects underway and upcoming

278. Willis Eschenbach says:

M. Dacey says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:41 am

… So in sum, the existence of oil reserves is no guarantee that they are easily extractable, or worth (yet) the effort.

Proven reserves are “proven” because they are extractable with current technology. Your claim that they may not ever be accessible is not true. You are confusing them with unproven reserves.
In addition, the fact that the amount of proven reserves continues to increase indicates that we are in fact accessing those reserves … so again, your claim is incorrect.
w.

279. elbatrop says:

@ willis
depends on which stat you use, crude plus condensates or gross crude with refinery gains or “all liquids” as it is now known
and as you can see from your graph oil production has experienced brief upward bumps on its long decline downward

280. Doug says:

Crude oil plus NGL is a better measure of what we are producing. Some gas condensate can go right into the gas tank of a car and it runs. It is great for blending with heavy stuff such as the oil sands oil for refining. We’ll see big gains in NGL in the next few years as the Eagle Ford, the Utica, and other wet gas plays develop. Just compare oranges to oranges.

281. Willis Eschenbach says:

Dave Springer says:
December 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

… There are already patented cyano-bacteria (blue-green algae) that can produce 20,000 gallons/acre per year of fuel at a price equivalent to \$30/bbl oil. These algae grow great in municipal wastewater with high nutrient loads, brackish water, and saltwater. Just 10% of the Texas panhandle, a few million acres, could provide all the diesel, ethanol, and avgas for entire US current annual consumption.

Cite? I’ve never seen reports of any algae-based fuels coming in at \$30 per barrel. I’ve also never seen reports of 20,000 gallons of fuel/acre/year.

Joule Unlimited claims that the cyanobacterium can create 15,000 gallons of diesel full per acre annually. Also, the company says it can do this at \$30 a barrel.

Note that all we have so far from Joule Unlimited is … well, the same thin we have from you. Unsupported claims.
The company claims it can do this for \$30 a barrel … and you report that it already has been done.
The company claims it can produce 15,000 gallons/acre/year … and you report that not only has it been done, it’s 20,000 gallons per year.
I’m not the only one doubting Joule Unlimited’s claim.

While Joule Unlimited seems confident in its new organism, others aren’t so sure that the new fuel-producing cyanobacterium will work. For example, National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Phillip Pienkos calculated the information from Joule’s paper on the study, and said that eliminating the biomass step creates problems when recovering the fuel. Specifically, it leaves small amounts of fuel in relatively large amount of water producing a “sheen.” He believes the company will have problems recovering large amounts of fuel efficiently.
“I think they’re trading one set of problems for another,” said Pienkos.

So while it is possible that Joule Unlimited may be able to deliver on their claims, your idea that they already done so is a joke. They may win, but they may also do a Solyndra. To date, your claims are not supported by ugly reality.
Nice try, though. You likely could have convinced some folks that you were actually telling the truth.
w.

282. elbatrop says:

@willis
No actually proven reserves are always suspect especially in nations that refuse to release their data like Saudi Arabia. Some nations are pretty honest and transparent while others are not. Even in the more honest nations they can swing pretty wildly up or down.
Shortly after OPEC was formed and they set their quotas which were reserves based almost all the middle east OPEC nations doubled their reserves at the stroke of a pen, Saudi Arabia did it after the others did and have since reported their reserves have remained static at roughly 264-265Gb ever since !! Kuwait however a few years ago publicly admitted this and it was a scam. All this is part of the oil history, even wikipedia shows it. Ever since that time we really have no real idea how much oil they have except by subtracting what they have produced and sold from the initial surveys done which for some of these nations goes back 40 years.

283. Latitude says:

The problem with all algae/cyano/etc fuels….is that they can’t be grown in open cultures….
…..they get contaminated

284. jrwakefield said:
“No, the entire Gulf of Mexico is continental shelf. ” & “The Tupi field off Bazil is also on continental shelf…”
You obviously do not have a clue. By definition, continental shelf water is defined as *less than* 500ft. The Gulf of Mexico has a broad valley running SW to NE 300 mi long x around 200 mi wide with an average depth of around 10,000ft & a max depth if 14,000ft. That is *not* a continental shelf, that is classified as deep water. Guess what the average depth of the Atlantic Ocean is…10,000ft.
The Tiber Oil field which is in 4,000ft water off Houston, Tx., was tapped at…wait for it…35,000ft (!!!) down (by the Deepwater Horizon platform BTW). Since the deep ocean bottom is, an average, around 10,000ft and you imply there is no oil below the ocean floor because…”There are NO FIELDS off continental shelves. Being below the ocean floor does not mean below oceanic basalt, which is what the ocean floor is beyond shelves.” Do tell, is 30,000ft below the ocean floor level above or below the “oceanic basalt”?
The Tupi oil field off South America is in 6,000ft of water so it too is not on a continental shelf but is 3,000ft from the deep ocean floor and the well is another 16,000ft below that.
Since it has been *proved* there are oil fields beyond the continental shelves AND I would guess that 30,000ft below the seabed would either be below or right in “oceanic basalt” AND I, for the life of me, can’t figure out how all those dinosaurs were able to get together & dig 35,000ft down below the surface & huddle together to make an estimated 4-8 BILLION barrels of oil…that, to me, is pretty strong evidence of abiotic oil.
And with that, I call game, set & match…and I’ll quit feeding the troll now.
Have a GREAT day!!
Jeff

285. elbatrop says:

@ Doug
well if you want to go that route then you have to wipe out an awful lot of previous data as well as ignore the economic effects which are quite important
unless of course the argument is going to be turned into peak liquid fuels and not peak crude oil
refinery gains also often get double counted which doesn’t help the situation
reaching for other liquids or synthetic liquid fuels like syncrude from the tar sands is also one of the symptoms or inevitable parts of the game even though it isn’t crude oil, it’s closer to coal than crude oil yet many call it crude oil in the total liquid count anyway
you can see the same sort of thing playing out in the coal industry too, the high quality anthracite peaked here in the US a long time ago and was replaced by bituminous mostly yet despite the added volume of annual production since then the actual total heat content produced annually has dropped
All these sources of energy while relatively interchangeable or fungible they are not the same especially economically. Ultimately it comes down to total energy out versus energy used to produce it, net energy. That ratio has been steadily dropping for decades. It takes a lot more volume of a crappy fuel source to replace a good one and light sweet crude in our world is at the top of the fuel food chain and it is getting more and more scarce.

286. Peak Oil??
They found oil on Pike’s Peak???

287. RobertInAz says:

Sorry – I did not scan the entire thread – so many comments were right on? I have to comment on this post:
“A question one might ask themselves. If there is all that oil in the world, why are oil prices so high? ”
There are so many ways to respond – I’ll try a few:
– If the price were higher, there would even be more reserves.
– Conversely, if the price were lower there would be fewer reserves.
– Bottom line – as somebody already posted – we will never run out of oil. We may eventually run out of oil at today’s price.

288. JimF says:

@TomL says:
December 14, 2011 at 5:52 am
“…Abiogenic oil makes CAGW look like well established science. It doesn’t just require making a lot of assumptions about things we don’t know, it requires ignoring everything we do know about stable isotope geochemistry, organic geochemistry of source rocks, thermal history of oil and gas, and actual distribution of carbon in the earth’s mantle….”
Bless you. This whole discussion above makes most conspiracy theories look dull. I cannot believe the lack of economic and other knowledge being displayed.

289. JimF says:

@JeffK says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm
“…Since it has been *proved* there are oil fields beyond the continental shelves AND I would guess that 30,000ft below the seabed would either be below or right in “oceanic basalt” AND I, for the life of me, can’t figure out how all those dinosaurs were able to get together & dig 35,000ft down below the surface & huddle together to make an estimated 4-8 BILLION barrels of oil…that, to me, is pretty strong evidence of abiotic oil….”
N0t in the least. These deposits off Brazil (and in the deeps of the Gulf of Mexico) are formed in sedimentary deposits laid down in rift basins. Look at a globe. See how South America and Africa look like they almost fit together. Well guess what, they did. The splitting apart formed something like the current East African Rift, filled over millions of years with detritus, then ocean water, then great deposits of salt, and so on. Today we are beginning to explore the half of the old rift on the SA side of the ocean. There’s a mirror-image on the African side, yet to be explored. Come to think of it, once NA, Africa and Europe were joined and split in the same fashion. Maybe there’s another mirrored rift sequence in the North Atlantic to be explored. Wait, it has been to some extent: Mobil/Chevron off Nova Scotia (forget the field name; big though).

290. LazyTeenager says:

Estimates then said we would be running out of oil about now.
———–
Well people who had clue about the distinction between proven and unproven reserves would not be saying that.
This whole article is something of a straw man. The right conclusion to draw from this is that we use oil now because it is incredibly cheap. Any substitute is going to be used when the oil gets expensive and makes expensive substitutes more economically viable.
So wasting oil by not using it efficiently or using it where it is not needed simply hastens the time when energy usage gets more expensive.
Things like wind power and solar represent a path to a graceful transition to using other kinds of energy. This is good since no one knows how fast prices will start to increase if oil supply downward trends meets energy demand upward trends and at what point in the future this will happen.

291. Spector says:

RE: elbatrop: (December 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm)
“All these sources of energy while relatively interchangeable or fungible they are not the same especially economically. Ultimately it comes down to total energy out versus energy used to produce it, net energy. That ratio has been steadily dropping for decades. It takes a lot more volume of a crappy fuel source to replace a good one and light sweet crude in our world is at the top of the fuel food chain and it is getting more and more scarce.”
This appears to be an indication of the eventual end of all sources of carbon power unless it can be shown that the available carbon reserves increase *exponentially* as progressively lower grade carbon deposits are found recoverable. The final carbon crisis may be many decades away, but it seems reasonable that we should be attempting to find at least one, non-solar, alternative energy resource that is indefinitely sustainable right now. That does not mean a forced abandonment of carbon power because of a mythical global warming problem.
I suspect we already have all the data we need on methods of collecting energy directly or indirectly from the sun, and most of the money wasted on development of these resources has been due to attempts to force the adoption of techniques that are obviously inadequate for today’s society.
I see less of a problem in the experimental development of alternative, indefinitely sustainable energy technologies that do not require large-scale adoption unless they prove to be more practical and more economical than carbon power.
If no feasible replacement for carbon power is ever found, then there must be a population and lifestyle regression to an earlier age and this period in time will be remembered as a ‘golden age of prosperity’ when ‘gods’ walked the Earth and flew in the sky.

292. JimF says:

@LazyTeenager says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm
I guess you haven’t been keeping up on current events. Massive new resources of gas and oil (a physical concept; i.e. something exists irrespective of economics) being turned up almost weekly, some being turned into reserves (an economic concept; i.e. it can be produced with known technology profitably) today, will jigger Willis’s chart a lot in the next few years. Nothing however will be used wastefully; where did you get the silly idea that we waste resources? We only waste money, on subsidizing will o’ the wisps like solar and wind, which will never be anything but low-level, location-restricted sources of energy. Soon all that will change, beginning about November next year.

293. James F. Evans says:

This is one of the more powerful scientific papers supporting Abiotic Oil theory:
Petroleum Formation by Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis in Plate Tectonics, by Peter Szatmari (1989)
http://www.scribd.com/doc/4653669/Petroleum-Formation-by-FischerTropsch-Synthesis-Peter-Szatmari
Szatmari wrote:
“Abstract:
A somewhat speculative hyposthesis of petroleum genesis in the upper lithosphere is proposed, based on Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. This hypothesis is distinct from both the organic (biogenic) model and the inorganic model of hydrocarbon degassing from the Earth’s interior.
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is a well-known industrial process whereby millions of tons of hydrocarbon oil resembling petroleum are produced annually from carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide and hydrogen gasses reacting on a metallic iron or iron-oxide catalyst. Like natural petroleum, this synthetic oil consists of gas, gasoline, diesel oil, and wax fractions, all rich in saturated aliphatic hydrocarbons and enriched in the light 12C isotope.
The hypothesis presented in this paper proposes that petroluem liquids form by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis on magnetite and hematite catalysts when carbon dioxide (derived by massive metamorphic or igneous decarbonization of subducted sedimentary carbonates) reacts with hydrogen generated by the serpentinization (in the absence of air) of shallow-mantle lithosphere and ophiolite thrust sheets. Oblique plate movements may favor hydrocarbon formation by creating deep faults that aid fluid flow and serpentinization. The world’s rich oil provinces, including those of the Middle East, may be tentatively interpreted to have formed by this mechanism.”
One of the reasons this paper is so powerful is because Peter Szatmari works in the research center for Petrobas, the Brazilan oil company, and Mr. Szatmari predicted that oil would be found off the coast of Brazil, right where ultimately the oil was, indeed, located over ten years later.
Correct prediction is one of the strongest confirmations of a hypothesis.
Read through the paper, Szatmari discusses isotopes and the fact that oil produced via the Fischer-Tropsch process has the same profile as natural petroleum found in Saudi Arabia.
The evidence for Abiotic Oil is substantial.
A good brief summary of the evidence for Abiotic Oil:
Inorganic Origin of Petroleum
http://www.scribd.com/doc/55489859/Inorganic-Petroleum-Origin

294. TimTheToolMan says:

From the BP website
“Reserves-to-production (R/P) ratios represent the length of time that those remaining reserves would last if production were to continue at the previous year’s rate. It is calculated by dividing remaining reserves at the end of the year by the production in that year. ”
The R/P ratio has been defined to be independent of achievable production rates and instead dependent on assumed capacity. Its a feelgood figure becasue in the real world, a well’s production rate decreases with age.

295. as to strong evidence that the abiotic process is responsible for super-deep oil pockets…
JimF said:
“N0t in the least. These deposits off Brazil (and in the deeps of the Gulf of Mexico) are formed in sedimentary deposits laid down in rift basins. ”
Jeff

296. TimTheToolMan says:

“Your theory still does not explain how, once again, all those dinosaurs were able to get together in one spot & dig 35,000ft down below the sea floor & huddle together to make an estimated 4-8 BILLION barrels of oil.”
Ever heard of fish?

297. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm

From the BP website

“Reserves-to-production (R/P) ratios represent the length of time that those remaining reserves would last if production were to continue at the previous year’s rate. It is calculated by dividing remaining reserves at the end of the year by the production in that year. ”

The R/P ratio has been defined to be independent of achievable production rates and instead dependent on assumed capacity. Its a feelgood figure becasue in the real world, a well’s production rate decreases with age.

I’m not clear what your objection is, Tim. Certainly, the figure is an estimate. It estimates the amount of time to use up the resource if you continue using it at the same rate.
As you point out, the production rate may well drop … but we don’t know by how much. They might drill new wells in the same basin to keep the production rate up. They may go to enhanced recovery. So it’s very difficult to estimate that way, and we can’t compare to other sites because of the variation in production rates. So about the only number that we can use is the standard R/P ratio.
However, I don’t see how the standard R/P is a “feelgood” number. Lets say that the R/P gives us forty years. If we used the real production rates, which will be less, we might get an R/P of sixty or eighty years … so how does the forty year figure make me feel better?
w.

298. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis…”As you point out, the production rate may well drop … but we don’t know by how much. They might drill new wells in the same basin to keep the production rate up. They may go to enhanced recovery.”
With all due respect, Willis, do you know what peak oil is? And why its important?

299. Spector says:

RE: James F. Evans: (December 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm)
“This is one of the more powerful scientific papers supporting Abiotic Oil theory:”
My impression is that abiotic oil, if it exists, was produced gradually by the tectonic activity of millions of years and could not be expected to sustain the 85 million barrels of oil a day that T. Boone Pickens says that we are currently harvesting.
If tectonic activity were producing oil at that rate for hundreds of millions of years, I think it would have been gushing out all over the earth for that length of time, or somewhere, a vast underground sea of petroleum would have been found by now.

300. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Willis…

”As you point out, the production rate may well drop … but we don’t know by how much. They might drill new wells in the same basin to keep the production rate up. They may go to enhanced recovery.”

With all due respect, Willis, do you know what peak oil is? And why its important?

With all due respect, Tim, do you know what an R/P ratio is? And why it is important? Did you notice that my post was not about “peak oil”, and didn’t mention the term once? Do you think that was accidental?
Finally, do you know how stupid it looks when you ask fake questions like that? If you have a point, make it and support it, but don’t be dicking around with cute questions about what I know and don’t know. It doesn’t redound to your credit, it just makes you look like you don’t have anything to say.
w.
PS—When anyone says “with all due respect” as you did, I know immediately that a) they are going to disrespect me, and b) they really mean “with all disrespect”. It’s like saying “no offense” when you are offending someone. Saying that doesn’t help in the slightest, it just twists the blade.
When you say that, you just confirm that you are deliberately disrespecting me, not accidentally disrespecting me. Color me unimpressed.
PPS—In answer to your question, yes, I do know what peak oil is and why it is important. I also know why I didn’t mention it either in the head post or in the comments.

301. Doug says:

JeffK says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm
as to strong evidence that the abiotic process is responsible for super-deep oil pockets…
, all those dinosaurs were able to get together in one spot & dig 35,000ft down below the sea floor & huddle together to make an estimated 4-8 BILLION barrels of oil.
————————————————————————————————–
So, oil is formed from dead dinosaurs? What is this, third grade science class? (assignment: look up type I, type II, type III oil and report back)

302. James F. Evans says:

Spector:
Nobody knows how fast abiotic oil is produced. To be conservative & reasonable, it is best to assume Man’s production & consumption happens faster than the Earth produces “rock oil” via geo-physical-chemical processes. Although, Man has been able to produce Fischer-Tropsch oil on an industrial scale in large quantities over short periods of time. Chemical reactions can be quite rebust if the necessary feed stocks are in abundant supply, which is likely in the Earth’s crust.
The major implication of Abiotic Oil Theory is that the volume of hydrocarbons in the Earth’s crust such as petroleum & natural gas is much larger than assumed for the so-called “fossil fuel” theory.
In regards to the idea that the abiotic oil would be over-flowing, there are substantial natural oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico and other places in the world. In Iraq, oil actually bubbles to the surface in natural oil springs.
Anyway, if you are interested in Abiotic Oil Theory, read the Szartmari scientific paper I linked and the brief summary. If you are really interested in the subject, read the lengthy forum I linked to in my first comment at December 14 at 5:53 p.m. It’s long, but covers the subject in depth.
As a side note, it’s interesting that Willis Eschenbach’s information states that the oil supply will last for forty years. Because I’ve stated as a conservative estimate (again, nobody really knows) that oil will last for 30 years. 30 years is the “economic horizon”, meaning, anything that happens further out than that has no effect on todays prices.

303. bananabender says:

@Les Francis,
oil has been found in the Lost City underwater geothermal vents, in granite basement rock in Vietnam (White Tiger field) and at depths over 4000m of the Brazilian coast. According to the best Western oil geologists none of these places would produce oil. They were all found using Russian Abiogenic Oil Theory
The smart way to find oil is to ignore the sediments and to explore near tectonic plate boundaries. These plate boundaries are where every major oil field in the world occurs.

304. In 40 years, there will be enough oil for 40 years. In 200 years, there will be enough oil for 40 years. Etc.
40 years happens to be a convenient “balance point” and buffer and fudge factor for the industry. That’s why it’s kept at that level..

305. Ralph says:

>>Jeremy
>>Jeez…this thread, courtesy of jrwakefield, looks like a chicken
>>little CAGW thread from the eco-doomsayers or from the malthusian
>>world overpopulation scare-mongers! This hyperbole does not belong
>>on a science website.
You seem to forget that the USA has passed its local Peak Oil nearly 50 years ago, and it dependent on the good will of other nations to feed its insatiable appetite for other people’s oil. Again I will ask you, what happens if the world decides it is more important to keep their oil in the ground for a rainy day, and refuse to play ball? And there are many reasons why this may happen, including Mr I-am-a-dinner-jacket being slightly unhinged.
Oh, and in addition you throw in the ‘malthusian’ pseudo-expletive just for fun – to make yourself look clever – a word that is thrown around as if it is the new younger brother of ‘Nazi’ or ‘Communist’. But let’s look at this more logically, dear Jeremy. Which kind of world will run out of fossil fuels first – a world with a total population of one billion, or a world with a total population of twenty billion.
Answers on the back of a postcard please, to BBC Television Center, London …………
.

306. Spector says:

Just for reference: Here is an example of one of the more intelligent sounding, alarming video’s that can be found on You Tube when searching for [peak oil -climate] over the past month:
Peak oil and the future of growth
Uploaded by Aesclepius138 on Dec 8, 2011
5 likes, 0 dislikes; 195 views; 12:32 min
“RealEconTV.com”
GoldMoney Foundation

There was no You Tube information found on the identity of the speaker, but I did a little digging and this appears to be cut from Chris Martenson’s 71-minute presentation at the Gold & Silver Meeting in Madrid where he refers to the current financial system as “unfixable” because it depends on unlimited exponential economic [and population] growth.

307. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “When anyone says “with all due respect” as you did, I know immediately that a) they are going to disrespect me, and b) they really mean “with all disrespect”.”
I do actually respect your opinions Willis. What I dont understand is your post because I would have thought you understood peak oil but from what you wrote it doesn’t like you do at all.
You very specifically wrote “They might drill new wells in the same basin to keep the production rate up. They may go to enhanced recovery.”
…and that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue of oil production peaking. Its not possible to keep production rates up at a site through to the end of the resource and this is very well known.

308. SteveE says:

Robmax says:
December 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm
The presence of a material where you would expect to find it is not proof of cause or source. Would the absence of oil in source rock not then be proof of abiotic oil such as in a dry hole.

Could you show me an oil mature source rock that doesn’t contain oil then?

309. SteveE says:

@JeffK or Jkrob
There’s no oil fields in the middle of oceans for the simple reason that there are no significant clastic sediments out there to act as a reservoir for the oil or any mature source rocks out there to produce any hydrocarbons.
And as mr wakefield said most of the globe has been explored with the exception of the arctic and antarctica. There will be the occasional large find in under explored areas, but these will be few and far between.

310. Stephen Harris says:

Here’s a good article on the Bakken Shale Oil deposits. The up side is that there may be 4 billion barrels of recoverable oil (the world uses 33 bbd). The downside is that the wells play out fast and there is only 4 billion barrels of recoverable oil. This is the situation we’re in folks. We find oil, but it’s not that much and it’s costly to extract.
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8697

311. Spector says:

RE: James F. Evans: (December 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm)
“The major implication of Abiotic Oil Theory is that the volume of hydrocarbons in the Earth’s crust such as petroleum & natural gas is much larger than assumed for the so-called “fossil fuel” theory.”
I do not discount the possibility of abiotic oil, but I think its primary implication would be that we may be overlooking some areas where additional combustible carbon may be found.
I still think we need to look to something like fluid-state, thorium reactor technology to fend off the eventual carbon depletion crisis. Kirk Sorensen has said that thorium has a million times the energy density of combustible carbon. We should be able to obtain that energy, one way, or another. His continually cycling, fluid salt reactors promise to remove almost all the dangerous, medium-lived, transuranic wastes and achieve near 100 percent fissile efficiency.

312. Robmax says:
December 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm
The presence of a material where you would expect to find it is not proof of cause or source. Would the absence of oil in source rock not then be proof of abiotic oil such as in a dry hole.
—-
Lack of evidence is not evidence of anything. Basic scientific tenent.

313. SteveE says:

@JeffK
The oil is formed not from dinosaurs but dead plankton raining down on the ocean floor. Over millions of years this is buried and as a result it heats up. This is what we call the source rock and as it is “cooked” through burial, produces hydrocarbons.
I’m not really sure where you get this 35,000 ft from though, the Tupi field was found in 2000m of water and at a depth of 5000m below the seabed giving about 7000m or 23,000ft in old money. You’ve also got to remember that all the sediments found at the bottom of the basin were once at the sea bed and have been buried over 100’s of millions of years so no digging is involved.
I think you are a bit confused about the basic’s of petroleum geology so have a read on Wikipedia or soething similar about sedimentary basins, source rocks etc. You might not look quite so much of a fool then.
Regards
Steve

314. Dave Springer says:

Latitude says:
December 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm
“The problem with all algae/cyano/etc fuels….is that they can’t be grown in open cultures….
…..they get contaminated”
Correct. But that problem can be solved. Poison the open culture so that no natural organisms can survive in it and give the artificial organism a way to deal with the poison. Generally in nature this is done by structures in the cell wall which selectively admits some molecules but not others. In order to keep evolution from duplicating the poison blocking mechanism (which she does and which is how things like antibiotic resistance arise) we fashion three distinct poisons and give our artificial organism three distinct defenses. Nature won’t be able to defeat all three simultaneously in a million years.
It’s a complicated undertaking but it’s completely doable. There are no physical or engineering constraints that are showstoppers. We know this because we know what natural organisms can do and if a natural organism can do something we can do that with an artificial organism. The menu of these abilities is huge especially when one begins considering extremophiles. It’s just a matter of slogging away in synthetic biology labs acquiring knowledge and expertise and engineers improving the lab equipment making it faster and cheaper.

315. bananabender says:
December 15, 2011 at 12:29 am
@Les Francis,
oil has been found in the Lost City underwater geothermal vents, in granite basement rock in Vietnam (White Tiger field)
————
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%E1%BA%A1ch_H%E1%BB%95_oil_field
The Bạch Hổ oil field (White Tiger oilfield) is a major oil field in the Cuu Long basin of the South China Sea located offshore due east of the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The field contains major reserves hosted within highly fractured granitic basement rocks. The Cuu Long basin is a rift zone developed during the Oligocene to Early Miocene. The rift occurred in Jurassic to Late Cretaceous granite to granodiorite intrusions.[1][2] The fractured granitic rocks occur as a horst overlain and surrounded by Upper Oligocene lacustrine shale source rocks.[1]
Bạch Hổ is not the only oil field convincingly shown to be hosted in granite;[3] however, inspection of the seismic profile of the area shows faulted basement passive margin which is sealed by an onlapping sedimentary sequence.[4][5]
It is plausible that the oil has migrated laterally from the lowermost, mature sediments into the fault systems within the granite. The seismic profile shows a definite basement horst with onlapping sedimentary source rocks, draped by a reservoir seal.[6] This trap view would see the oil migrate up the horst bounding faults from the lower source units, into the trap unit draped over the top.
—————
and at depths over 4000m of the Brazilian coast. According to the best Western oil geologists none of these places would produce oil. They were all found using Russian Abiogenic Oil Theory
——–
BS. I already posted that the Tupi field has been shown to have a biological source.

316. SteveE says:

James F. Evans says:
December 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm
Nobody knows how fast abiotic oil is produced.

Nobody has found any abiotic oil that has been produced, that would suggest that it is either very slow or non-existent. I personally plug for the latter.

317. Dave Springer says:

Spector says:
December 15, 2011 at 5:37 am
“I still think we need to look to something like fluid-state, thorium reactor technology to fend off the eventual carbon depletion crisis. Kirk Sorensen has said that thorium has a million times the energy density of combustible carbon. We should be able to obtain that energy, one way, or another. His continually cycling, fluid salt reactors promise to remove almost all the dangerous, medium-lived, transuranic wastes and achieve near 100 percent fissile efficiency.”
Until someone invents a material that can simultaneously resist the corrosive action of molten salt and the embrittlement action of high neutron flux the liquid salt reactor is dead in the water. There are no known materials from which to build the pumps and plumbing that can last long enough to make it economically feasible. This is the same problem that plagues hot fusion schemes – there is no known material that can withstand the fusion chamber conditions for long enough to make it economical to operate.
This is the bane of conventional nuclear power plants only they don’t have the corrosion problem to deal with just the embrittlement problem. So they have to periodically shut down the plant and inspect the pressure vessel and associated gear exposed to high neutron flux for problems caused by embrittlement.

318. SteveE says:

bananabender says:
December 15, 2011 at 12:29 am
oil has been found in the Lost City underwater geothermal vents
——
No oil has been found in these vents, just methane and hydrogen just like the methane found on Titan and numerous other comets and planets.

319. Please, all you people who claim abiotic oil happens, please point to ONE field that is definitively from an abiotic source. Not this theoretical it might be. I hope I don’t have to check and find out that indeed the field you post is in fact biotic. so please make sure you check out the geology. Google works you know.

320. SteveE says:

bananabender says:
December 15, 2011 at 12:29 am
The smart way to find oil is to ignore the sediments and to explore near tectonic plate boundaries. These plate boundaries are where every major oil field in the world occurs.
—-
The whole of West Africa and Eastern South America will be dissapointed to hear this as they are not on a plate boundary. All those billions of barrels of oil found and it wasn’t in the smart place to explore! Silly explorationist should have been looking on iceland all this time!

321. Dave Springer says:

bananabender says:
December 15, 2011 at 12:29 am
“The smart way to find oil is to ignore the sediments and to explore near tectonic plate boundaries. These plate boundaries are where every major oil field in the world occurs.”
I happened to grow up near a major oil field that’s NOT on a plate boundary. Pennsylvania to be specific. I also lived near an oil field in California. That IS on a plate boundary. I now live near oil fields in Texas which isn’t particularly close to a plate boundary.
[SNIPPED for gratuitous nastiness. Rein in your mouth, Dave. -w.]

322. Khwarizmii says:

Dave Springer at 8:08 am
in reply to Mike Borgelt: “Oh good, Les Francis. Now please tell us why there are heaps of hydrocarbons on Titan.”
For the same reason there is a huge fusing ball of hydrogen at the center of the solar system. It’s primordial. For better or worse the inner planets and moons got stripped of most of their free light elements by the heat of the sun and strength of the solar wind and, as a consequence, they are rocky/metallic things.
Did you really not know that?

================
Did you really not know that your response was not only very rude … but very wrong?
~~~~~~~~
[…] unlike water in the Earth’s atmosphere that continually renews itself, methane is destroyed by ultraviolet light, so Titan must have a source deep inside, scientists said. Based on data collected by Huygens’ instruments, Sushil Atreya, a professor of planetary science at the University of Michigan in the United States, believes a hydro-geological process between water and rocks deep inside the moon could be producing the methane.”I think the process is quite likely in the interior of Titan,” Atreya said in a telephone interview.
The process is called serpentinisation and is basically the reaction between water and rocks at 100 to 400 degrees Celsius (212 to 752 degrees Fahrenheit), he said.
http://esse.engin.umich.edu/PSL/PRESS/Titan_Cassini_Huygens/AP_Wire_012705.pdf
~~~~~~~~
“The methane giving an orange hue to Saturn’s giant moon Titan likely comes from geologic processes in its interior according to measurements from the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS), a Goddard Space Flight Center instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Huygens Probe.”
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=18410
~~~~~~~~

323. Bruce Cobb says:

LazyTeenager says:
December 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm
This whole article is something of a straw man. The right conclusion to draw from this is that we use oil now because it is incredibly cheap. Any substitute is going to be used when the oil gets expensive and makes expensive substitutes more economically viable.
So wasting oil by not using it efficiently or using it where it is not needed simply hastens the time when energy usage gets more expensive.
Things like wind power and solar represent a path to a graceful transition to using other kinds of energy. This is good since no one knows how fast prices will start to increase if oil supply downward trends meets energy demand upward trends and at what point in the future this will happen.

Obviously, as oil gets more expensive in relation to alternatives, people will begin to transition towards those alternatives. That time, as Willis shows is very likely decades in the future. Sorry, but wind and solar are not only way too expensive, but they do not even replace oil, since those are used to create electricity, and only a small fraction of oil (perhaps 1%) is used to create electricity.
There is no reason (other than alarmism) to think that oil prices are going to skyrocket due to diminishing supplies, so that is just use of the illogical Precautionary Principle on your part.
The argument that people shouldn’t waste energy is idiotic, and usually hypocritical to boot. It isn’t energy per se that we should worry about wasting, but money.

324. Scott Brim says:

Dave Springer: “……… It’s just a matter of slogging away in synthetic biology labs acquiring knowledge and expertise and engineers improving the lab equipment making it faster and cheaper.”

So …… Could we rationally speculate that solving these basic production scalability problems is a very time-consuming and expensive proposition, one with little prospect of any kind of substantial near-term return on the money invested, and that production of economic quantities of biofuels from synthetic biology techniques is anywhere from fifty to a hundred years away at current rates of progress?

325. James F. Evans says:

Spector wrote: “…but I think its [Abiotic Oil] primary implication would be that we may be overlooking some areas where additional combustible carbon may be found.”
Agreed. But I would add, there is likely additional oil in areas already explored, but at deeper levels in the crust, all the way down to the basement (bedrock). This has already been confirmed in some older oil fields where the original oil wells where at relatively shallow levels in the geological formation.
SteveE wrote: “Nobody has found any abiotic oil that has been produced, that would suggest that it is either very slow or non-existent. I personally plug for the latter.”
On the contrary, the best evidence is that all oil is abiotic. But then you would need to consider ALL the evidence supporting Abiotic Oil Theory (and all the evidence supporting Fossil Theory, plus evidence contradicting both theories) before arriving at a conclusion. I have done that, have you?
Regarding so-called “source rock”, this is supposed to be strong evidence for “fossil theory”, but there is an easy explanation via Abiotic Oil Theory: The Fischer-Tropsch Type geo-physcial-chemical production of ‘rock oil’ includes heavy hydrocarbons, aka long-chain hydrocarbons, ie, kerogen (C215H330). See Szatmari (1989), “… this [Fischer-Tropsch] synthetic oil consists of gas, gasoline, diesel oil, and wax fractions, all rich in saturated aliphatic hydrocarbons and enriched in the light 12C isotope.” So “source rock” (sedimentary rock embedded with percentages of kerogen) is the result of long-term abiotic production of hydrocarbons where the heavy hydrocarbons dropout or precipitate and end up embedded in the sedimentary rock. It is possible that secondary ‘cracking’ of long-chain hydrocarbons, kerogens, due to heat causes the production of shorter-chain hydrocarbons, including methane gas.
Again, the Szatmari paper is an important read:
Petroleum Formation by Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis in Plate Tectonics, by Peter Szatmari (1989)
http://www.scribd.com/doc/4653669/Petroleum-Formation-by-FischerTropsch-Synthesis-Peter-Szatmari
Good news for oil geologists: Locating “source rock” is important in Abiotic Oil Theory, just as it is in so-called “fossil theory” — find “source rock” and deposits of petroleum will likely be found in nearby geologic formations 🙂

326. Doug says:

bananabender says:
December 15, 2011 at 12:29 am
“The smart way to find oil is to ignore the sediments and to explore near tectonic plate boundaries. These plate boundaries are where every major oil field in the world occurs.”
—————————————————————————————-
Please, stop being poster children for “know enough to be dangerous”.
Interior cratonic basins contain 31% of the world’s giant oil fields. Basins on passive margins another 33%. Subduction margins, collision zone foreland basins and strike slip margins only 14%.
The smart way to find oil is just the way we do it (including the Russians), look for the right combination of organic source, reservoir rock, and trap.

327. SteveE says:

James F. Evans says:
December 15, 2011 at 8:31 am
SteveE wrote: “Nobody has found any abiotic oil that has been produced, that would suggest that it is either very slow or non-existent. I personally plug for the latter.”
On the contrary, the best evidence is that all oil is abiotic. But then you would need to consider ALL the evidence supporting Abiotic Oil Theory (and all the evidence supporting Fossil Theory, plus evidence contradicting both theories) before arriving at a conclusion. I have done that, have you?

Yes I have.
Your suggestion that source rock is the product of abiotic oil migration is just plain wrong, why then are there biogenic signitures in all source rocks? Why do source rocks at different depths have different maturity. Why are some source rocks gas prone and other oil prone? Why isn’t all basement rocks charged with abiotic oil?
You really don’t know what you are talking about I’m afraid.

328. bananabender says:
December 15, 2011 at 12:29 am
“The smart way to find oil is to ignore the sediments and to explore near tectonic plate boundaries. These plate boundaries are where every major oil field in the world occurs.”
—-
Alaskan oil fields, not boundary. Bakken, not boundary. Alberta fields, not boundary. Ghawar, not boundary. North Sea, not boundary. Cantarel, not boundary. need I go on?

329. David Boleneus says:

I agree with the R/P ratio statement but there is more to this story.. I examined BP Statistical Review (2010) data about a year ago, did a similar analysis and found the same result on a global basis. The world’s forward reserve is ever-increasing but this is NOT true for North America if considered alone. In North America, the production rate is decreasing slightly year-to-year while its reserve is also decreasing but at a more rapid rate so that the R/P ratio for NA is NEGATIVE.

330. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 2:52 am

… You very specifically wrote “They might drill new wells in the same basin to keep the production rate up. They may go to enhanced recovery.”
…and that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue of oil production peaking. Its not possible to keep production rates up at a site through to the end of the resource and this is very well known.

Tim, I said to “keep the production rate up”. Not to keep it up through to the end of the resource, that’s your interpretation. But to increase the production rate prior to the end of the resource. Surely you are not disputing that any given field can yield oil faster or slower depending on the number and type of wells and the kind of enhanced recovery techniques involved.
w.

331. David Boleneus says:

TO JRWakefiield: Near plate boundaries is not where oil is found. You are obviously not a petroleum geologist so are unaware of these matters. Oil, with respect to tectonic plates, is found at the trailing edge. Nearly all of the major oil fields are found in this situation. Take for example the oil fields bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, including the giants of offshore Brazil, Argentina, Niger, North Sea, Newfoundland, as examples. Oil is found in thrust belts but its not so substantial in a province to province comparison. The oil finds on the Pacific coasts near points of tectonic convergence are quite miniscule compared the trailing edges.

332. David Boleneus says:
December 15, 2011 at 10:14 am
TO JRWakefiield: Near plate boundaries is not where oil is found. You are obviously not a petroleum geologist so are unaware of these matters. Oil, with respect to tectonic plates, is found at the trailing edge. Nearly all of the major oil fields are found in this situation. Take for example the oil fields bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, including the giants of offshore Brazil, Argentina, Niger, North Sea, Newfoundland, as examples. Oil is found in thrust belts but its not so substantial in a province to province comparison. The oil finds on the Pacific coasts near points of tectonic convergence are quite miniscule compared the trailing edges.
———
Actually I do know quite a bit of geology, including petroleum geology. Here is the flaw in your argument. The plate boundary off of the Atlantic is currently in the middle, the Mid Atlantic Ridge, a spreading ridge. As the Atlantic started to open, some 200myo, a new sea formed and life flourished. But most importantly, rivers and erosion started to deposit silt and detritus along the new continental shelf, burring those organisms. Thus there is some 200 myo of accumulated sediment as the spreading ridge became further from those coastlines. It is there that the oil formed, in those sediments. Yes tectonics split the continent, but only made the conditions for organic matter to accumulate.
The Tupi field, off Brazil, is a nice example. During the early opening of the Atlantic the new sea was shallow (the source rock’s vast fossils of clams etc shows this), and the extensive evaporite deposits above the host rock shows that many times, that shallow basin evaporated completely, many times.
The North Sea is the same. Except it is not a plate boundary at all, it is a stretched graben. The Gulf of Mexico is a failed triple junction as the Atlantic split from the south up. (So is Nigeria). However, the Cantarel isn’t from normal long term accumulation of biogentic layers. The oil was cooked and formed because of the impact of an asteroid some 65myo which slammed into rich marine ecosystems.
As noted, Bakken is no where near any plate boundaries, neither is Ghawar, nor any of the oil and gas deposits of Alberta, including the tar sands, nor are the fields in Texas, and there is no plate boundary along the north slope of Alaska.
So tectonics indeed plays a role in oil formation, as it starts the process for sedimentary accumulation in highly biotic shallow marine environments.
Now, I have read a lot of books on how oil is formed. I suggest you read them too. Start with Oil 101, then move on to Twighlight in the Desert. The latter is on peak oil, but Simmons goes into great technical detail on oil formations around the world.

333. Amusingly, the whole process of biotic oil production is pure hand-waving. Neither in the lab nor on paper nor in computer simulations has a chemical sequence been identified which produces oil from biological sediment. Especially pure high-grades of oil, with all sorts of elements common to biological debris magically excluded.
But the assembly of oils from methane and water under extreme pressure and heat is comparatively straight-forward, or at least feasible.
What we have here is another case of Loud Consensus. The louder, the likelier it’s loopy.

334. JimF says:

@JeffK says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm
I know. You’re a candidate to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
For those who like gases and fluids being generated out of the Earth’s interior, go check out the genesis of diamonds. Some fun stuff there (and a mighty blast of CO2 into the atmosphere over time).

335. This comment is, as much as anything, a check if the website is still active. I have received nothing new at WUWT for well over 24 hours- it remains at the oil posting. I hope that this does not mean any problems for Anthony, for WUWT is such a valuable resource for all of us.
IanM

336. James F. Evans says:

SteveE, if you are familiar with all the evidence for and against abiotic oil then please present specific objections to Peter Szatmari’s paper that I linked to above.
In regards to so-called “source rocks” having “biomarkers”, generally, these consist of contaminants in the oil and organic molecules that have been found in chondrite meteorites.
So called “source rock” have different compositions, you call “maturity”. This is because different deposits have different ages and are subject to different conditions, ie. heat and pressure.

337. James F. Evans says:

Brian H:
The Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of oil has not just been done in the laboratory, but in industiral commericial quantities.
Numerous geologists including some petroleum geologists subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory.
Tectonic Setting of the World’s Giant Oil and Gas Fields by Dr. Paul Mann presented at the Houston Geological Society (Dr. Mann is not known to subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory).
http://www.hgs.org/en/articles/printview.asp?236
But it does present evidence for where the biggest oil fields are located.
Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons by Stanley Keith, who does subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory.
http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/keith/keith.htm

338. miko says:

burn it, baby, burn it…. there’s always more stuff to burn…

339. HEEEELLLPP!! i have repeatedly googled “wattsupwiththat” as well as clicking on the words in my Favorites listing, and every time I get taken to the “R/P ratio” posting.
IanM

340. James F. Evans says:
December 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm
Brian H:
The Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of oil has not just been done in the laboratory, but in industiral commericial quantities.

Yes, I understand. I can’t quite tell if you misread my post or not. Note that I said “biotic oil production is pure hand-waving”.

341. James F. Evans says:

Yes, Brian, I did understand your meaning. You’re quite right, biotic or so-called “fossil fuel” theory is nothing but hand waving.
I was just putting out the specific process that has been demonstrated because numerous geologists subscribe to that specific type of process going on in the Earth’s crust — referred to as Fischer-Tropsch Type process.

342. Brian H says:
December 15, 2011 at 10:54 am
Amusingly, the whole process of biotic oil production is pure hand-waving. Neither in the lab nor on paper nor in computer simulations has a chemical sequence been identified which produces oil from biological sediment. Especially pure high-grades of oil, with all sorts of elements common to biological debris magically excluded.
But the assembly of oils from methane and water under extreme pressure and heat is comparatively straight-forward, or at least feasible.
What we have here is another case of Loud Consensus. The louder, the likelier it’s loopy.
—————
The oil window is well understood. Different grades of oil shows how oil gets formed from biological sources, including kerogen which contains animal lipids.
What is strange is why people are so fixated on an abiotic process when not one field has been identified as having a non-biological source.
Abiotic oil belongs beside AGW in the dustbin of science failures.

343. James F. Evans says:
December 15, 2011 at 11:32 am
SteveE, if you are familiar with all the evidence for and against abiotic oil then please present specific objections to Peter Szatmari’s paper that I linked to above.
In regards to so-called “source rocks” having “biomarkers”, generally, these consist of contaminants in the oil and organic molecules that have been found in chondrite meteorites.
So called “source rock” have different compositions, you call “maturity”. This is because different deposits have different ages and are subject to different conditions, ie. heat and pressure.
——-
If abiotic was true, then there should be deposits that have biomarkers (from contamination) and others which would not.
Please show us a field that does not have a biological chemical marker.

344. JimF says:
December 15, 2011 at 11:20 am
@JeffK says:
December 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm
I know. You’re a candidate to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
For those who like gases and fluids being generated out of the Earth’s interior, go check out the genesis of diamonds. Some fun stuff there (and a mighty blast of CO2 into the atmosphere over time).
———-
What is significant is kimberlite pipes dont occur today, havnt since the precambrian.

345. Doug says:

James F. Evans says:
December 15, 2011 at 11:32 am
In regards to so-called “source rocks” having “biomarkers”, generally, these consist of contaminants in the oil and organic molecules that have been found in chondrite meteorites.
————————————————————————————————————
This thread just keeps getting better. Biomarkers are not contaminants, they are part of the oil. They encompass a large range of molecular structures and are basically fossils on a molecular scale. For example , the presence of oleanane, a compound found in flowering plants will tell you the source rock is no older than Jurassic when flowering plants evolved. You won’t find it in Bakken oil. Botryococcene will tell you the source is botryococcus algae from non-marine laccustrine sediments of Tertiary age. It is found in much of the SE Asian oil, including the granite of Bach Ho field. (I have a nice Russian seismic line here on my desk showing the laccustrine sediments in direct contact with the fractured granite horst).
These hydrocarbon compounds are not found in meteorites, they are not formed by fischer tropsch, they do not leak from tectonic rifts, they are formed by plants, trapped in sediments, are a component of oil.

346. Development of oil formation theories and their importance for peak oil
http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/Abiotic_article.pdf
Conclusions
Petroleum formation has been discussed since prehistoric times to the present day. In many ways, the current biogenic and abiotic theories may be seen as greatly improved and rigorous versions of their historical predecessors. Concepts and explanations have matured over hundreds of years and been continuously strengthened by new scientific investigations. Scientific support and theoretical arguments can be derived for both biogenic and abiotic oil. From a production perspective, it is the commercially extractable amounts of oil that matter. Biogenic petroleum geology has been superior in terms of locating reservoirs, which has given rise to the oil era and the present petroleum-powered society.
In comparison, abiotic theory has not been able to provide vast amounts of commercial reserves. The Siljan Ring drillings failed at finding a commercially interesting deposit, even though new attempts are going to be made in the future. Abiotic theory sometimes claims success in places such as Vietnam, Dniepr-Donets Basin and Eugene Island, but those deposits can also be explained by biogenic petroleum geology. The lack of a clear and irrefutable success in locating abiotic petroleum in commercial quantities is problematic. Until such examples are found, abiotic petroleum will likely remain a relatively ambiguous concept. However, certain groups do not agree and claim that commercial accumulations have nothing to do with fossil remains (Kenney et al., 2001).
Abiotic petroleum formation theories are largely irrelevant to the debate about peak oil, unless it is assumed that the most extreme version of the abiotic oil theory, namely the ―strong one‖ is a reality. However, such spectacular claims necessitate comprehensive and convincing evidence. In what might be a reasonably realistic version of the abiotic theory, massive abiotic oil discoveries and their rapid development would be able, at most, to postpone the date of the peak by some years or decades in the weak case, but it would not be able to remove the notion of an ultimate production peak at some time. Peak oil is a matter of extraction rates and flows, not oil formation theories. People that do not understand this difference should not be allowed to advice policy makers or plan for the future in the light of peak oil and the importance of natural resources for the continued well-being of mankind.

347. Discussion
Discoveries of significant abiotic oil reserves would naturally postpone the global oil peak, if they can be put into production fast enough. However, the important point is whether those hypothetical undiscovered abiotic oil formations can be drilled and emptied fast enough to replace the decline from depleting fields currently in production, as peak oil is about flows.
The decline in existing oil production has been determined to be about 6% (Höök et al., 2009), being equivalent to a new annual production requirement of 4-7 Mb/d just to keep current production levels constant. These are figures that are well established from observations and widely spread within the petroleum industry and related agencies and organisations. Such numbers put certain perspectives on the flows that are needed for sustaining world oil production. A hypothetically vast reserve base has little to do with the likelihood of significant future production since production is dependent on many more factors than just geological availability. It is the size of the tap that matters, not the size of the reserves.
For example, vast and already discovered accumulations of non-conventional oil (oil sands, oil shale, etc.) exist and can be used to attenuate decline in existing production after peak oil. However, even with the most optimistic assumptions, a sustained growth rate of more than 10% for non-conventional oil production over the next two decades would be required (de Castro et al., 2009) to make up for the decline of conventional oil. Growth rates higher than 6-7% for non-conventional oil are not expected by either IEA (2008) or EIA (2009) in their outlooks to 2030 and even those rates are probably optimistic.
In comparison, vast abiotic oil accumulations have not been discovered yet and would likely require super and/or ultra deep drillings, which are expensive and take time. Kelessidis (2009) gives an overview of the challenges that deep drilling campaigns must overcome. A major and rapid development of potential abiotic oil formations deep within the crust or even deeper down near the mantle do not seem as a realistic alternative to quickly offset the decline in existing production. Whether hypothetically massive amounts of abiotic petroleum can be brought on stream and reach the world market in time can only be seen as questionable.
There is little doubt that drillings will be done to greater depth in the future but the important question is perhaps how fast such drilling methods can be developed and how cheap they can become. Even if there were sufficiently large abiotic oil reservoirs at great depth, producers must be able to tap those formations and make some kind of profit by selling the extracted oil. Without profit, they will simply become an untapped resource due to technological and/or economical obstacles.
The spectacular claims of the strong abiotic oil theory, that it is capable of refilling existing fields with hundreds of thousands of barrels per day, cannot be seen as anything other than cornucopian fairy tales, at least until they have been supported by observations. Consequently, the burden of proof rests with the proponents of such fabulous pronouncements. We wonder if anyone is prepared to back up such bold claims with any evidence.

348. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis misunderstands peak oil with his comment “But to increase the production rate prior to the end of the resource.”
Peak oil is about the peak, not whether the peak can be deferred. The peak will occur at some point and it wont be in 40 years when you simply assume (As the BP report has done) that production rates can be sustained. Do you seriously think that people aren’t already pushing the limits of sustaining oil field production?
Every oil field will experience a peak in its production and if you look across all the oil fields then they will in aggregate display a peak too. It is the peak that matters because after that, production drops off and declining production in a world where growth is essential spells big trouble for us.

349. Willis Eschenbach says:

David Boleneus says:
December 15, 2011 at 9:37 am

I agree with the R/P ratio statement but there is more to this story.. I examined BP Statistical Review (2010) data about a year ago, did a similar analysis and found the same result on a global basis. The world’s forward reserve is ever-increasing but this is NOT true for North America if considered alone. In North America, the production rate is decreasing slightly year-to-year while its reserve is also decreasing but at a more rapid rate so that the R/P ratio for NA is NEGATIVE.

Thanks, David. If you redid your analysis using the latest BP figures, rather than trusting your memory about an old analysis , you’d be closer to reality.
First, Mexico overstated its reserves for years. They stopped doing so in 1998, when their reserve estimates were cut about in half. So we have to reverse out the error in the estimates for the years before 1998. Here are the North American results once that is done.

Note that the Canadian Oil Sands are a huge game changer. Contrary to your claims, the reserves are not decreasing, they are higher than they have been since the dataset began in 1980.
w.

350. elbatrop says:

@ willis
except oil sands aren’t oil, more like lousy grade coal that has to be turned into oil and economically worse than coal

351. elbatrop, its actully bitumen. But yes, the “reserves” there is nothing to chear about. Only about 15% ultimately extractable, and too close to break even. Surface mining is 6:1 ERoEI. In situ extraction is much worse, less than half that. But the big problem for the oil sands isn’t the ERoEI, it’s natural gas availability. NG is required to crack the long chains into synthetic oil. The oil sands consumes more NG than all the homes in Canada. And that’s for just 1.5mb/day. The goal is to double that in less than 20 years. Convensional sources of NG has been in decline since 1995. Shale gas will be short lived. So in a NG constrained environment one wonders who will get that NG, homes or the oil sands?
This is is why I took my home off NG and installed a ground source heat pump.

352. Willis Eschenbach says:

Here’s my problem with the whole “peak oil” deal. Below is the official California report on oil for 1973.

As you can see, peak production in California was in 1968. The text says:

The production of oil for the year 1973 was 317,347,170 barrels, a decrease of 2.2 percent compared to 1972. This continues a state production decline trend which started in 1969, after the state’s all-time record production of 373,202, 767 barrels in 1968.

OK, California peak oil occurred in 1968, the figures are crystal clear.
But then we have a later report that says …

Note that there was a second, and even higher, peak in production that occurred in 1986.
This proves that a) we cannot tell the peak until after it has occurred, and b) there may well be a second peak that is higher than the first …
That’s why I pay little attention to the myriad claims of “peak oil” this and that. There is no law that says that an area has to have one and only one peak. As California has proven, production can peak, and then fall for some years, and then peak again. Which one is the real peak, and how can we tell when it is reached? The folks in California in 1973 thought they’d seen the peak in 1968. New discoveries, new technologies, and the opening of previously closed areas can all have a huge effect on production.
w.

353. Willis Eschenbach says:

elbatrop says:
December 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm

@ willis
except oil sands aren’t oil, more like lousy grade coal that has to be turned into oil and economically worse than coal

Oil sands aren’t oil … which I suppose is why they call them “oil sands”?
Yes, the oil needs to be extracted from the sand, but it’s not anything like “lousy grade coal”.
Finally, you claim that it is “economically worse than coal”. Presumably you mean that you can make oil out of coal cheaper than you can get it from the Canadian oil sands … I’m sure you can see the difficulty with that nonsense. If you could make oil from coal cheaper than buying it from the Canadians … don’t you think folks would be doing that?
Citations and figures, my friend, would be of great assistance here. If nothing else, you can see where you went wrong.
w.

354. elbatrop says:

@ willis
no it was just a misinterpretation. not that I was very specific to begin with
Net energy wise or economic leverage wise if you prefer the tar sands are a far lower return than coal of any grade. I only mention this to illustrate how desperate we have gotten to have to resort to mining bitumen and then using natural gas and water plus some refining and then including it with any crude oil production total of any sort. Liquid fuel yes but it isn’t crude oil and it is disingenuous to try to count it as crude oil reserves.
With the scale and volume of liquid fuels the world uses net energy and the quality of the crude oil or source in question makes an enormous difference. 2 million barrels per day of oil sands syncrude is a far weaker net energy situation than 2 million barrels a day of light sweet arab from northern Iraq that only costs \$1.50 a barrel to extract. You get hammered by energy content, refining costs, extraction costs and flow rate and this too is one of the ugly realities of peak oil. The alternatives present you with a classic case of diminishing returns.

355. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “That’s why I pay little attention to the myriad claims of “peak oil” this and that.”
There is only one peak although the effects of any decline may be felt. They certainly were in the 70s. By paying little attention to it, you’re ignoring the whole issue. Your posts pointing out reserves may make people feel better but are actually irrelevent.
You graph showing flatlining production whilst claiming all is well because of proven reserves are IMO misleading to the issue facing us.

356. TimTheToolMan says:

I feel I should write to this too… Willis writes “The folks in California in 1973 thought they’d seen the peak in 1968. New discoveries, new technologies, and the opening of previously closed areas can all have a huge effect on production.”
But the further increase in California’s production out to 1985 didn’t increase the US overall production because the gains in production in California were more than offset by the losses across the rest of the country.
So its all very well to look at a region and declare that an individual increase can happen because hey it can! …with a new find or whatever. But overall the trend is downward.

357. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Willis writes “That’s why I pay little attention to the myriad claims of “peak oil” this and that.”
There is only one peak although the effects of any decline may be felt.

Tim, I just gave you a very clear example of a situation where there was a clear peak, one that was the high point for some years.
About twenty years later there was a second, and higher, peak.
So no, there isn’t “only one peak”. Only one of the peaks is the largest, but there can easily be more than one significant peak.
See, here’s the deal, Tim. If we were having this discussion in 1973, you’d be telling me in no uncertain terms that there is only one peak in California oil production, and it happened in 1968 …
Which is why, as I said, “peak oil” is a lousy indicator.
Production has indeed been about flat for some years, and this is an issue. But that has nothing to do with the 1968 “peak oil” in California, nor, for that matter, with the 1986 California peak.
See, I was looking at something else, which is why I didn’t even mention peak oil. This is whether we need to replace oil right away with some renewable or other, as lots of folks claim. The data says no, whether or not oil has peaked.
w.

358. Doug says:

jrwakefield says:
December 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm
Shale gas will be short lived
Really? Do you have data from the hundreds of organic shales available? (we’ve only drilled a few) Data on refracs? (a refrac can be a good as the first, with no new well required) Do you have a good idea of how much cheaper and efficient the whole process can get? Some of the blanket statements seen in this thread are absurd.

359. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I feel I should write to this too… Willis writes “The folks in California in 1973 thought they’d seen the peak in 1968. New discoveries, new technologies, and the opening of previously closed areas can all have a huge effect on production.”

But the further increase in California’s production out to 1985 didn’t increase the US overall production because the gains in production in California were more than offset by the losses across the rest of the country.
So its all very well to look at a region and declare that an individual increase can happen because hey it can! …with a new find or whatever. But overall the trend is downward.

TIm, you said that the same rules applied to everything from individual oil fields all the way up to the world as well.

Every oil field will experience a peak in its production and if you look across all the oil fields then they will in aggregate display a peak too.

I looked “across all of the oil fields” in California, and no, they didn’t do what you claimed they would do.
Now you are claiming that it might happen for California … but not for the US.
Why not? California is an aggregate area just as the US and the world are. Why can it happen in California, but not elsewhere? That makes no sense. If it could happen for CA, it could happen for the US.
For example, Canada peaked in 1973, at a bit over 2 billion barrels per day. That peak held for two decades … but then the oil sands came on the market, and now Canada is producing 3.3 mbd, almost twice as much as when it “peaked”.
Again, if we were discussing Canada in 1990, Tim, you’d be the first to tell me about the 1973 peak and subsequent decline … which is why I pay no attention to the concept of “peak oil”. What good is it? You can’t see it coming, and you can’t see it in the rear-view mirror either. So I don’t deal with the concept at all, I see no use for it other than to increase internet disputes … although it’s extremely good at that.
Thanks,
w.

360. James F. Evans says:

Doug wrote: “Biomarkers are not contaminants, they are part of the oil. They encompass a large range of molecular structures and are basically fossils on a molecular scale.”
False.
How do you explain that some of the molecules that have been identififed and claimed as “biomarkers” are also found in chondrite meteorites?
SteveE and now you, Doug, have failed to respond to this fact.
These so-called “biomarkers” are porphyrins, isoprenoids, and terpines, which have all been found in chondrite meteorites.
The rest are contaminants such as pollen and spores.
Doug wrote: “For example , the presence of oleanane, a compound found in flowering plants will tell you the source rock is no older than Jurassic when flowering plants evolved. You won’t find it in Bakken oil.”
Exactly. You won’t find biolgical contaminants from younger geological ages in oil deposits that come from an older geological ages. But you will find biological contaminants from older geological ages in newer geological ages because the contaminants rise with the oil. Oil is a excellent solvent for biological detritus.
Read this scientific paper: Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connection for Natural Petroleum, by Kenny. et al. (2001).
http://www.gasresources.net/DisposalBioClaims.htm
Read it and study the paper and then get back to me with specific objectins to items in the paper.

361. Willis Eschenbach says:

elbatrop says:
December 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm (Edit)

@ willis
no it was just a misinterpretation. not that I was very specific to begin with
Net energy wise or economic leverage wise if you prefer the tar sands are a far lower return than coal of any grade. I only mention this to illustrate how desperate we have gotten to have to resort to mining bitumen and then using natural gas and water plus some refining and then including it with any crude oil production total of any sort. Liquid fuel yes but it isn’t crude oil and it is disingenuous to try to count it as crude oil reserves.

Thanks for the clarification on your points, elbatrop. Oil sands are classified by everyone on the planet as “unconventional oil”. Now you want to say it is “disingenuous” to call them that … you’ll have to take that up with someone other than me. I and the rest of the planet don’t figure it that way. That’s why they’re called “oil sands”, after all.

With the scale and volume of liquid fuels the world uses net energy and the quality of the crude oil or source in question makes an enormous difference. 2 million barrels per day of oil sands syncrude is a far weaker net energy situation than 2 million barrels a day of light sweet arab from northern Iraq that only costs \$1.50 a barrel to extract. You get hammered by energy content, refining costs, extraction costs and flow rate and this too is one of the ugly realities of peak oil. The alternatives present you with a classic case of diminishing returns.

Everyone would love to have lots of light sweet crude, heck, most oil companies would love to have it … so what? I’d like to have lots of things I don’t have.
Yes, as you point out, 2 million barrels of oil from the oil sands is (energetically) weaker than 2 million barrels of light sweet at a buck fifty a barrel extraction costs.
But what you are neglecting is that it is about 2 million barrels energetically stronger than no oil sands oil at all …
w.

362. Willis Eschenbach says:

Doug says:
December 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm

jrwakefield says:
December 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Shale gas will be short lived

Really? Do you have data from the hundreds of organic shales available? (we’ve only drilled a few) Data on refracs? (a refrac can be a good as the first, with no new well required) Do you have a good idea of how much cheaper and efficient the whole process can get? Some of the blanket statements seen in this thread are absurd.

Thanks, Doug. I thought about pointing that out, but hadn’t gotten to it, and you’ve done it very well.
w.

363. James F. Evans says:

JRWakefield wrote: “The oil window is well understood.”
I already provided examples where the so-called “oil window” was falsified because the oil was found to be over 400 degrees Fahrenheit when the “oil window” theory states that oil will not form or survive in temperatures over 275 degrees Fahrenheit, such as the deep oil found in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Brazil.
JRWakefield wrote: “If abiotic was true, then there should be deposits that have biomarkers (from contamination) and others which would not. Please show us a field that does not have a biological chemical marker.”
The following quoted passage is from The Drilling & Development of the Oil & Gas Fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk Basin, by V. A. Krayushkin, T. I. Tchebanenko, V. P. Klochko, Ye. S. Dvoryanin
Institute of Geological Sciences (2001)
“Bacteriological analysis of the oil and the examination for so-called “biological marker” molecules: The oil produced from the reservoirs in the crystalline basement rock of the Dnieper-Donets Basin has been examined particularly closely for the presence of either porphyrin molecules or “biological marker” molecules, the presence of which used to be misconstrued as “evidence” of a supposed biological origin for petroleum. None of the oil contains any such molecules, even at the ppm level. There is also research presently under progress which has established the presence of deep, anaerobic, hydrocarbon metabolizing microbes in the oil from the wells in the uppermost petroliferous zones of the crystalline basement rock in the Dnieper-Donets Basin.”
http://www.gasresources.net/DDBflds2.htm
There you go Mr. Wakefield.

364. TimO says:

It’s always 40 years out….. that’s because 40 years is a good number in any industry so the predictor will be retired by then and therefore unaccountable…..

365. Spector says:

RE: Dave Springer: (December 15, 2011 at 7:28 am)
Ref: Thorium Reactor Replacement for Exhausted Carbon Power
“Until someone invents a material that can simultaneously resist the corrosive action of molten salt and the embrittlement action of high neutron flux the liquid salt reactor is dead in the water. There are no known materials from which to build the pumps and plumbing that can last long enough to make it economically feasible. This is the same problem that plagues hot fusion schemes – there is no known material that can withstand the fusion chamber conditions for long enough to make it economical to operate.”
I will accept this as a note of caution, lest someone think this development is a sure thing. There do remain a number of nontrivial problems that must be solved before these reactors can be mass-produced. However, the fluoride salt has been described as relatively inert because the two components of the salt are more strongly attracted to each other than almost anything else. The Oak Ridge demonstration liquid-state reactor, which only had a molten salt reacting core running on thorium-derived U233, but without the external thorium breeder blanket, reportedly ran for several years with no show-stopping problems of the type you suggest.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/11/the-contribution-of-fossil-fuels-to-a-feeding-humanity-and-b-habitat-conservation/#comment-828426
Fission reactors have the advantage that there are no repulsive forces that block entry of an errant disruptive neutron into a nucleus. Fusion requires the collision of two mutually repelling nuclei as they both have a strong positive electrical charge; it has been likened to playing golf with each ‘hole’ on top of a ten-foot volcano-shaped mound.
So far, thorium nuclear appears to be the most likely, indefinitely sustainable candidate to replace carbon power when it runs out.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/11/the-contribution-of-fossil-fuels-to-a-feeding-humanity-and-b-habitat-conservation/#comment-828614

366. James F. Evans says:

There are numerous examples of petroleum wells that exact oil from fractured basement. as opposed to the common assumption that these are very rare.
HYDROCARBON PRODUCTION FROM FRACTURED BASEMENT FORMATIONS Version 5.1 (1999)
http://www.hendersonpetrophysics.com/fractures2.html

367. Willis Eschenbach says:

Tim (the Tool Man), further to my previous comments on how I can’t tell the “peak oil” either before or after it happens, consider the following:

Colombia … care to predict which one will be the peak?

UK … what would you have said about the UK peak in 1990?

Qatar … what would you have said about the Qatar peak in 1990?
Now, if you think that this only happens in countries that don’t produce much oil, we have …

Note the problems with determining the peak. Saudi production “peaked” in the 1980s, and didn’t exceed that production for more than two decades. It has dropped in the last two years … so did Saudi Arabia see “peak oil” in 2008, or will it be exceeded again?
If you want larger aggregations, we have:

I’m sure that you can see the problem … which is that, as I pointed out, a host of things can affect the production rate. A “peak” may end up being nothing of the sort, merely an interim pause, followed by up to a couple decades of lower production, on the way to the next high point … which in turn may not be the final “peak” either.
Since I can’t tell the timing of “peak oil” either before or after it happens … of what use is it?
w.

368. Dan in California says:

Here’s ExxonMobil’s 30 year outlook. Go down a few lines and click on download pdf”. Interesting they show electricity growing the fastest at 40% increase from today. Also interesting they essentially write off the OECD countries as stagnant but show large growth non-OECD countries.
http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/energy_outlook_view.aspx

369. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis wonders “Since I can’t tell the timing of “peak oil” either before or after it happens … of what use is it?”
There are a large number of countries where the peak is more obvious, the US being one.You wondered about California earlier where there production looked like it might have peaked in 1968 but then increased again to 1985. Right now California is producing very roughly half what it was producing in 1985. Do you think that one has peaked?
You’re right in that we will only know the peak for sure once its past. Possibly a number of years past, but it is arguably the most important energy event that we are looking forward to because it heralds the beginning of the end of oil certainly, but possibly fossil fuels in general. The growing energy gap that forms post peak oil will need to be filled by some other resource.
We have a choice. We can go down the road of other fossil fuels and use those up or we can choose renewable energy that hopefully will be less damaging to the environment and is well…renewable and wont run out. Then our energy issues are ones of management rather than finding the next “fix”.
But the important thing to realise is that peak oil is where it happens and that could be happening right now. Your suggestion of 40 years away is wishful thinking and not supported by your citations which show oil production flatlining for 6 years or so. Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong but one thing is for certain – for us to transition to new technologies takes time and (energy) resources. It wont be easy and if we dont do R&D now while energy is relatively plentiful, we’re going to be limiting our options and increasing our risk.

370. elbatrop says:

@ willis
when oil prices drop significantly or demand drops significantly oil co’s slow down their production and drilling efforts even in individual fields
there is more factors to the the production curves of fields than depletion or flow rate
what happened in the 1980’s is no mystery nor is the time frame different fields were exploited and produced
using hubbert linearization assumes maximum physical production throughout the lifecycle of the field uninterrupted by what the actual oil market may or may not be doing

371. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “I looked “across all of the oil fields” in California, and no, they didn’t do what you claimed they would do.”
I’m not sure how to respond to that one. California has fairly clearly peaked now. Do you think a major find is still hiding there? Look, if you dont believe in peak oil then fine. Thats your perogative.
At the end of the day people far smarter than me have determined that diversifying our energy sources particularly with renewables and putting massive amounts of money and effort toward the R&D is the best thing to do and I’m inclined to agree with them.
It seems to me you’re suggesting we should stop all that nonsense and simply develop lower grade fossil fuels. Where is your vision? I call shenanigans on your comment “I’d love to find a better energy source than oil.” because you’re advocating extending oil’s life as long as possible.

372. Smokey says:

TTTT,
California is a bad example, because they have not allowed either new exploration or drilling for decades. During that time drilling technology has advanced exponentially. It is entirely possible that California has not come near its peak oil potential. But without exploration and drilling, we just don’t know.

373. TimTheToolMan says:

Smokey writes “It is entirely possible that California has not come near its peak oil potential. But without exploration and drilling, we just don’t know.”
Thats a fair call but in the scheme of things doesn’t matter. IF we’re at peak oil right now then by the time California was explored, developed and on line, it would only be bolstering a globally flagging resource.
California doesn’t contain another Ghawar.

374. Doug says:
December 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm
jrwakefield says:
December 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm
Shale gas will be short lived
Really? Do you have data from the hundreds of organic shales available? (we’ve only drilled a few) Data on refracs? (a refrac can be a good as the first, with no new well required) Do you have a good idea of how much cheaper and efficient the whole process can get? Some of the blanket statements seen in this thread are absurd.
———-

375. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Willis wonders

“Since I can’t tell the timing of “peak oil” either before or after it happens … of what use is it?”

There are a large number of countries where the peak is more obvious, the US being one.

Saying that it works in some places is hardly a ringing endorsement of something that you have claimed works at every level from individual fields to the whole world. That is obviously not true, Tim. You can try all you want to change the goalposts and act like you meant something else … but your statement is still not true.

You wondered about California earlier where there production looked like it might have peaked in 1968 but then increased again to 1985. Right now California is producing very roughly half what it was producing in 1985. Do you think that one has peaked?

I don’t know, Tim, because we have not allowed new explorations or offshore drilling in a whole long time …
In any case the output from all of OPEC did the same thing, dropped by half … but now it is way above where it dropped from. So obviously, dropping by half means nothing. The answer to your question is, we simply don’t know what the future production rates will be.

You’re right in that we will only know the peak for sure once its past. Possibly a number of years past, but it is arguably the most important energy event that we are looking forward to …

If we will only know it once it is past … how can it be something we “are looking forward to”? Particularly when we may not know until a couple of decades after …

We have a choice. We can go down the road of other fossil fuels and use those up or we can choose renewable energy that hopefully will be less damaging to the environment and is well…renewable and wont run out. Then our energy issues are ones of management rather than finding the next “fix”.

No, we do not have a choice at the moment. Oil is the only liquid transportation fuel that is anywhere near market-ready. You can “choose renewable fuels” all you want, but they will cost 2-4 times what fossil fuels cost.
If you think that replacement will happen without huge subsidies, you don’t understand fuel. And if you think the world can afford to subsidize your impractical green fantasies, you don’t understand the recession …
w.

376. Willis Eschenbach says:

jrwakefield says:
December 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I’m not going to root through your posts hoping to guess which link you’re referring to. You know both what it is and where it is. When you deign to tell us I’ll take a look, but not before. Do your own homework, because there’s no way I will do it for you.
w.

377. Willis, re your graphs. Those graphs do not tell the story. How much of the latter production is from tertiary recovery? Saudi Arabia is a case in point. The granddaddy of all, Ghawar, is in tertiary recovery. They are pumping in more seawater around the deposit’s periphery than they get out in oil. Classic sign of old age, and imminent decline. The graphs also do not include how much in new oil is expected to be brought on line. Do a graph of that and you will be surprised. Finally, the graphs also do not show by how much the source countries are consuming more of their own oil, which affects how much can be exported. The graphs also do not show how much one country in particular is buying up deposits around the world, thus hording. Guess who that is.
The over all issue with peak oil is none of what you display in the graph. It’s about each country having to deal with less flow rate than their own consumption. Soon as there is more demand than available oil, prices spike, forcing a country into recession, which is the road to permanent decline.
This wont happen evenly around the world. Those countries most a risk are those who import the most, have the highest decline in domestic production, and have very high, unsustainable, debt levels. The perfect storm is often the straw that breaks the back. And which countries fit that profile? The US and the EU.

378. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “If we will only know it once it is past … how can it be something we “are looking forward to”?”
Because once it arrives, we will again go through what the US went through in the 70s. Prices will again skyrocket. People will suffer, especially the poor. Except there will be no coming back from it we will have run out of choices.
Willis writes “We do not have a choice at the moment. Oil is the only liquid fuel that is anywhere near market-ready. You can “choose renewable fuels” all you want, but they will cost 2-4 times what fossil fuels cost.”
This is the dilemna we find ourselves in. I agree there are no obvious alternatives to oil right now. And any change to electricity based transport is going to be a long and painful process. What kind of a transition do you think it would be if we left it until we were well through our coal reserves? What kind of world will we be living in anyway?
Willis writes “If you think that replacement will happen without huge subsidies, you don’t understand fuel.”
I’m quite certain huge subidies are needed.
“And if you think the world can afford to subsidize your impractical green fantasies, you don’t understand the recession …”
The world is already subsidising that which you apparently hate. Understandably its backing off during the recession too. You may have missed the part where we’re are already spending a lot on renewable subsidy and believe it or not, I’m not a decision maker in that process.

379. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Smokey writes “It is entirely possible that California has not come near its peak oil potential. But without exploration and drilling, we just don’t know.”

Thats a fair call but in the scheme of things doesn’t matter. IF we’re at peak oil right now then by the time California was explored, developed and on line, it would only be bolstering a globally flagging resource.
California doesn’t contain another Ghawar.

Tim, the question was not whether California contains another Ghawar. That’s just you playing silly games. It was whether the production had peaked.
I’m getting tired of you moving the goalposts. You make a statement. Then when it’s shown to be incorrect, you say in the scheme of things it “doesn’t matter”. You’re wrong, Tim. It matters because it shows we may not be able to see the “peak oil” for decades. It matters because you claimed that “peak oil” worked at every level from the field to the planet. And finally, and least importantly, It matters because it shows that you were wrong, Tim.
Having claimed it “doesn’t matter”, then you go off on some totally different tangent like “California doesn’t contain another Ghawar”, as though anyone had ever claimed that.
The discussion was about California and peak oil. Both Smokey and I have shown that we don’t know about the peak. I’ve shown that there are lots and lots of places where there are double peaks, often separated by decades. If you had any huevos, you’d say “OK, I was wrong” instead of doing all of that unseemly wriggling and trying to change the subject.
w.

380. pete says:

The peak oilers are as relentless as the warmists. Though when you see someone post that “fusion is dead” you know they are full of it.

381. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

… At the end of the day people far smarter than me have determined that diversifying our energy sources particularly with renewables and putting massive amounts of money and effort toward the R&D is the best thing to do and I’m inclined to agree with them.

Tim, don’t fall back on that bull about just following other peoples’ advice. THINK FOR YOURSELF. Don’t just say “people far smarter than me have determined blah blah blah …”. Stand up, grab your left nut for luck, look hard and long at the data and the arguments and MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND. Look at the costs of replacements for liquid transportation fuels. Consider the discussions and ideas of people on both sides. Richard Feynmann wisely said that “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” … and meanwhile, you advocate turning off your brain and blindly following said experts … believe I’ll take Richard’s advice and pass on your advice, thanks.
I don’t mind putting money and effort towards R&D as you suggest. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, people like you, who think they are listening to smart people, are putting massive amounts of money, but not into R&D—instead, they putting the money into subsidies for unworkable renewables, AKA pouring it down a rat hole …
w.
PS—And if you are going to just follow the experts and not think for yourself, then tell us who these “people far smarter than you” are and where we can go to read their wisdom. Then you can go away, because if all you are is a parrot for far smarter people, why should I listen to you?

382. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm
Willis writes “If we will only know it once it is past … how can it be something we “are looking forward to”?”

Because once it arrives, we will again go through what the US went through in the 70s. Prices will again skyrocket. People will suffer, especially the poor. Except there will be no coming back from it we will have run out of choices.

Since we may not know for a decade afterwards that the peak has even happened, how will knowing make even the slightest difference?
I still don’t see the value in putting huge effort into something we may not even know has occurred until years afterwards.
So we get to that point someday, and we look back … and you say “See, “peak oil” was 20 years ago” … and that helps us how? What does that do for us? How does that make things better?
That’s why I don’t deal with “peak oil” much. I find it a useless concept. We can’t see it coming. We can’t see in in the rear-view mirror until we’re way past it … so what is the benefit, what is the advantage? Where’s the gain, where’s the beef?
w.
PS—What happened in the 1970’s was that Nixon established price controls on fuel. If you think price controls are somehow related to peak oil, perhaps you better go back to reading your “people far smarter than you”.

383. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis suggests “THINK FOR YOURSELF. Don’t just say “people far smarter than me have determined blah blah blah …”. Stand up, grab your left nut for luck, look hard and long at the data and the arguments and MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND. ”
I have Willis. I’m simply pointing out that my preferred preference lines up with what is happening in reality and it is your preferred path that is a fantasy. I dont doubt that we’ll use fossil fuels as needed during our transition. Its just that I also dont doubt that we’ll be making that transition.
“You make a statement. Then when it’s shown to be incorrect, you say in the scheme of things it “doesn’t matter”.”
I cant help it if you dont understand. From a global perspective, one region going from a possible peak back into new production growth with a new discovery means little in the scheme of things. For it to matter most regions would have to reverse the production direction and thats not likely to happen.

384. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis wonders “So we get to that point someday, and we look back … and you say “See, “peak oil” was 20 years ago” … and that helps us how? What does that do for us? How does that make things better?”
Whoever said anything about making it better? Or benefitting from knowing? At the moment you dont believe peak oil is an issue because we’ll always be able to increase production to meet with the demand.
I’m pointing out that there is a concept called peak oil which is dependent on production rate and not on proven reserves and that your fixation on proven reserves is missing the most important aspect of fossil fuel depletion.

385. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

… You may have missed the part where we’re are already spending a lot on renewable subsidy and believe it or not, I’m not a decision maker in that process.

Tim, don’t play those kind of childish games with me. I discussed subsidies extensively at “The Dark Future of Solar Energy” and you commented on that thread. I discussed subsidies extensively at “Between Wind and Water”, and you commented on that thread. So you know very well that I know about the subsidies on renewables.
So when you claim I may have “missed the part where we’re are already spending a lot on renewable subsidy”, you are talking out of your fundamental orifice.
You may have missed the part where I pay attention, Tim. You know damn well that I am very aware of the size of the subsidies on renewables. Not only that, but I know that you know, and I’ll thank you to give up pretending otherwise.
w.

386. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “You may have missed the part where I pay attention, Tim. You know damn well that I am very aware of the size of the subsidies on renewables. Not only that, but I know that you know, and I’ll thank you to give up pretending otherwise.”
And yet you insist I’m living in a fantasy green world? Dont pretend you’ve got the high moral ground here Willis.

387. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Willis wonders “So we get to that point someday, and we look back … and you say “See, “peak oil” was 20 years ago” … and that helps us how? What does that do for us? How does that make things better?”

Whoever said anything about making it better? Or benefitting from knowing? At the moment you dont believe peak oil is an issue because we’ll always be able to increase production to meet with the demand.

First, I’m beginning to believe you can’t read. You claim I don’t think peak oil is an issue because I think that “we’ll always be able to increase production”. But I never said anything even remotely similar to that. Instead, I clearly said “Now, at some point this party has to slow down, nothing goes on forever …” In other words, certainly there will be a peak at some point …
Second, if even as you say above, you agree knowing about peak oil doesn’t make it better, and you agree that there is no “benefitting from knowing” when the peak is … then what good is it?
I believe that peak oil is an issue, it’s just a useless issue because we can’t pinpoint it, particularly in advance. I don’t think we’ll be able to know when it was until it is long past. Which means it is of no use to me.
Part of this is “once bitten, twice shy”, because for folks of my age, we remember being told very seriously years ago, by folks just as driven and sincere as you are today, that the peak in oil production in 1979 was the date of the “peak oil” for the world. Oil production fell from 1979, and did not return to higher levels for a decade and a half. During that time the “peak oil” folks made all kinds of claims …

So perhaps you can explain again how paying the slightest attention to “peak oil” helps? Because it sure didn’t do us any good when it was claimed to have happened back in 1979 …
w.
PS—Consider this history:

Hubbert himself put the peak of global oil extraction between 1993 and 2000.
In 1977 the Workshop on Alternative Energy Strategies forecast the global oil peak as early as 1990 and most likely between 1994 and 1997.
In 1979 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency believed that global output must fall within a decade [by 1989].
In the same year British Petroleum, the world’s second largest oil company, predicted the world production peak in 1985 and the total output in the year 2000 nearly 25 percent below that maximum. In reality, global oil output in the year 2000 was nearly 25 percent above the 1985 level!
Some of the latest peak-oil proponents have already seen their forecasts fail: Campbell’s first peak was to be in 1989, Ivanhoe’s peak was in 2000, Deffeyes had it in 2003 (and now, ridiculously, on Thanksgiving 2005).
SOURCE

And now here we are in 2011, and after all of the “peak oil” hysteria, world oil production is still rising. How were any of those predictions worth more than a bucket of warm spit, Tim? What did they do for us? How are we better off from the thousands and thousands of hours those guys put in on those forecasts? WHAT’S THE POINT OF “PEAK OIL”?
Even King Hubbert himself couldn’t even make the magical “peak oil” formula work … draw your own conclusions.
w.

388. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Willis writes

“You may have missed the part where I pay attention, Tim. You know damn well that I am very aware of the size of the subsidies on renewables. Not only that, but I know that you know, and I’ll thank you to give up pretending otherwise.”

And yet you insist I’m living in a fantasy green world? Dont pretend you’ve got the high moral ground here Willis.

Say what? Tim, in all seriousness, I don’t understand your response at all.
I pointed out that you are pretending that I don’t know something that you are quite certain that I do know. Bad TTTT, no cookies.
w.

389. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm (Edit)

Willis suggests

“THINK FOR YOURSELF. Don’t just say “people far smarter than me have determined blah blah blah …”. Stand up, grab your left nut for luck, look hard and long at the data and the arguments and MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND. ”

I have Willis. I’m simply pointing out that my preferred preference lines up with what is happening in reality and it is your preferred path that is a fantasy.

Sure, Tim, that’s the ticket. Go on believing that. You mean smart people like King Hubbard, who did so well in mis-predicting peak oil, as have those that followed him.
w.

390. Venter says:

Tim the tool man, it’s time you stopped digging when you’re already in a big hole. Willis has stripped apart every single argument of yours threadbare and you’re like that emperor with no clothes.

391. Doug says:

jrwakefield says:
December 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm
Willis, re your graphs. Those graphs do not tell the story. How much of the latter production is from tertiary recovery? Saudi Arabia is a case in point. The granddaddy of all, Ghawar, is in tertiary recovery. They are pumping in more seawater around the deposit’s periphery than they get out in oil. Classic sign of old age, and imminent decline.
——————————————————————————————————
Ghawar is just fine. The water injection is not a classic sign of anything, it is part of responsible management. There are oil fields producing 98% water that are still cranking out economic oil production.
My wife has worked on Ghawar, both for Aramco and Exxon Research. She has seen more core from the Arab-D reservoir than anyone I know. They had a problem with water by-pass through large pores from leached Cladocoropsis corals, and they are actually controlling that better today than in the past. We recently took a trip with some Saudi Aramco engineers, and they assured us the Saudis could increase production by 5 million barrels a day with current facilities.
jrwakefield, would you please, give Willis credit for a very good post for an oil industry outsider, and please, stop posting on subjects about which you have extremely limited knowledge. There is a world of difference between reading a few books and working hands on in the oil business.

• Stephen Harris says:

Here’s a very technical and interesting article on Ghawar. The bottom line reads:
“…the whole of North Ghawar is either off plateau already, or getting close. That is something like 3.9mbpd of production based on last known figures. Whatever of this decline has not already occurred will mostly occur during the next decade. Southern Ghawar, by contrast, can maintain plateau for decades to come, but there is only 1.7mbpd of production there on last known figures.
While we cannot attribute an exact fraction at this time, it seems likely that not-altogether successful attempts to maintain the north Ghawar plateau to the bitter end explain a significant fraction of the sharp increase in oil rigs that began in 2004, as well as the production declines since that timeframe.”
Some parts of Ghawar have an aggressive water cut to maintain the flow rate. The Saudi’s are experts at wringing out every last drop of oil they can in a very systematic way. But the depletion rate is too great to for them to ramp up total production for all fields beyond about 9mbd. It appears the Saudi’s cannot be the swing producer they once were.
Although they still sit on a sea of oil, it always comes down to flow rate. And if flow rate cannot meet demand, we have peak.
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2470

392. Edit note:

Even King Hubbert himself couldn’t even make the magical “peak oil” formula work … draw your own conclusions.
Even King Hubbert himself couldn’t even make the magical “peak oil” formula work … draw your own conclusions.

Pick one.
😉

393. Spector says:

RE: TimTheToolMan says: (December 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm)
“At the end of the day people far smarter than me have determined that diversifying our energy sources particularly with renewables and putting massive amounts of money and effort toward the R&D is the best thing to do and I’m inclined to agree with them.”
I believe that most traditional renewables are limited to average energy collection rates on the order of twenty megawatts per square kilometer. It seems to me that massive amounts of money and R&D effort would be better spent if directed toward more energy-dense, clean nuclear alternatives. This would seem to make more sense than trying to force-fit methods that are known to be inadequate.
In his video above, (Dec 15 at 1:17 am) former Vice President of Pfizer Inc and Science Applications International Corporation, Dr. Christopher H. Martenson talks about the difference between solvable problems and predicaments. I think the transition from carbon power to ‘renewable’ energy sources would qualify as a predicament.
In the light of the multi-peaked plots that Willis has presented, I think Dr. Martenson might qualify his non post-peak recovery statement to exclude those cases where advanced recovery of lower grade and previously unexploited deposits is also included.

394. Frosty says:

Flat production since 2004, and massive price increases since the same point.[1] would suggest the oil industry has been struggling to raise total global production since 2004, either that or they choose not to produce more, even at 4x the 2004 price.
At the very least, questions should be asked of the oil industry as to why production is not being increased to lesson the impact of the global financial crisis. Maybe we can ask the bankers behind the oil industry about this in court if the fat lady ever sings about the banking crisis.
[1]http://www.mongabay.com/images/commodities/charts/crude_oil.html

395. TimTheToolMan says:

Spector writes “It seems to me that massive amounts of money and R&D effort would be better spent if directed toward more energy-dense, clean nuclear alternatives.”
I tend to agree. I think nuclear energy would for a good interim baseload energy source. It would be much better than fossil fuel alternatives.
So Willis, you’re saying you do agree with peak oil but you dont agree with it? I’m confused. (yes this is your cue to misquote me to your advantage). But nevertheless…You appear to believe developing fossil fuel alternatives is the best option and yet you claim you’d like to see an alternative to them.
You imply that 40 years longevity is a viable estimate for current the production rate but accept that rates will probably drop. You believe that technology can continually improve production rates so that peaks aren’t an issue. You point to individual regions that dont reach peak although they might look like they have and by implication suggest this is the norm.
Normally I can understand the thrust or your aruments but on this one I’m lost. What exactly are you saying Willis? Are you really saying we dont have to worry about alternative energy sources because we can simply do what we’re doing for 40 more years? And then worry about it?

396. elbatrop says:

@willis
quote
“Sure, Tim, that’s the ticket. Go on believing that. You mean smart people like King Hubbard, who did so well in mis-predicting peak oil, as have those that followed him.
w.”
Hubbard nailed the peak for the US and it appears at the moment for the whole world he was only off by a few years, not bad for a “mis prediction”
crude oil plus condensate was all he was concerned with and given the data he had to work with and the nature of the hubbard linearization method missing the world peak by a few years is to be expected
There is no big conspiracy here or controversy nor is it any real big mystery as to how the ultimately recoverable reserves are calculated for a field based on the geology and geometry of an oil field. Nor is the production curve a mystery.

397. pete says:
December 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm
The peak oilers are as relentless as the warmists. Though when you see someone post that “fusion is dead” you know they are full of it.
———-
Read the section: 5.1. Remaining barriers to fusion energy
here: http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5929

398. Willis: “world oil production is still rising.”
No it isn’t. The total of convensional liquids dropped since 2005. Hubbert was off by 5 years. Total production of all sources has been flat.
“WHAT’S THE POINT OF “PEAK OIL”?” Can indeed be predicted. Look at the flow rates, and state of oil fields, the rate of new discovery, the size of new discovery. There is only one conclusion, peak oil is imminent.

399. Doug says:
December 16, 2011 at 12:44 am
Ghawar is just fine. The water injection is not a classic sign of anything, it is part of responsible management. There are oil fields producing 98% water that are still cranking out economic oil production.
——
Water injection is only done during tertiary production, that’s the last stage and indicates the life of a field is near the end. Cantarel is an example of that, so is the North Sea.
Now oil extraction pipes are only so big, can only allow for so much flow rate. When the water cut is 98% to oil, that means the flow rate of oil from that well is down to 2% from its peak flow rate. That means you have CONFIRMED peak oil.
Regarding Ghawar. And you believe the Saudis???? Read Twighlight in the Desert. They are liars.

400. Doug says:

jrwakefield says:
December 16, 2011 at 7:08 am
Water injection is only done during tertiary production, that’s the last stage and indicates the life of a field is near the end.
Regarding Ghawar. And you believe the Saudis???? Read Twighlight in the Desert. They are liars.
————————————————————————————————-
Water injection is often done from day one of production. It is done for various reasons, such a ensuring proper sweep, and preventing down dip gas cap expansion.
I read “Twilight in the Desert” I could write a book on the errors. Simmons never worked in Saudi Arabia, but spent a few days there, (before claiming a nuclear bomb would be required to plug the BP well, and drowning in a hot tub). As far as believing the Saudis, I would not make a blanket statement that they are liars. Regardless of that, I didn’t say the engineers from Saudi we recently spoke with were from they Saudi government, you just assumed that.—they actually were Americans, with advanced degrees and decades of experience working with Aramco. And yes, I do believe them, as I believe my wife’s work

401. James F. Evans says:

Flow rate tends to be determined by demand & consumption.
Increase flow rate significantly beyond demand & consumption and you cause the price to go down. Do you think that oil companies (especially the super-majors) and national oil companies want to cause the world price to go down?
Generally they don’t (althoough, occasionally Saudi Abrabia does for geo-political reasons or long term demand protection).
So, at least among the super-major oil companies and national oil companies (small independents just want to sell all the oil they are able to find and put on the market) there is some effort to balance production with demand or even tighten production in relation to demand to keep upward pressure on prices.
The answer to the flow rate is “a thousand straws”.
Here that means simply adding additional “straws” (oil wells to existing fields — yes that means they will deplete faster) so that production or “flow rate” maintains a rough equallibrium with demand & consumption.
Why the “peaker’s” fixation on flow rate? Easy, because the proven reservers, which Willis Eschenbach has done such a good job of presenting has falsified the earlier “peaker” gambit of asserting that geological reserves of the Earth’s crust are near exhaustion. Yes, I know that’s not what “peakers” argue when pushed. But the rapid declines they predict make their claims of peak production very close to simply claiming exhaustion.
Of course, now, “peakers” have changed even that claim by saying decline from peak will be gradual.
But that’s not what they claimed in the beginning. “Peaker’s” arguments evolve as each argument turns out to no match reality.

• miko says:

even if we keep on finding more oil, is it wise to keep on burning it up? we will eventually run out, whether it is in twenty years, forty years, or perhaps even a hundred years… why wait until we have burned up most of the oil before figuring out policies to use other energy sources? complex hydrocarbons can be made into all sorts of useful THINGS (how much plastic do we use? there are always more and more things made of plastic). this stuff is too valuable to just burn it up!

402. Doug says:

elbatrop says:
December 16, 2011 at 6:27 am
Hubbard nailed the peak for the US and it appears at the moment for the whole world he was only off by a few years, not bad for a “mis prediction”
—————————————————————————————————-
Hubbert was good a predicting time of inflections, nothing more. His numbers on flow rates and long term curve shapes bear no resemblance to reality.
Let’s look at his gas curve: He predicted clear back in 1956 that US gas production would peak in 1972 at 38 BCFD. It did hit a primary peak in 1973, but at 60 bcfd. His curve would have us now at 6 bcfd, but actually is is 63 bcfd (exceeding the “peak”) and climbing.
His oil curve is being warped beyond recognition too.
As in climate science, Hubbert’s models show prediction is difficult, especially if it is about the future

403. Doug says:
December 16, 2011 at 8:08 am
elbatrop says:
December 16, 2011 at 6:27 am
Hubbard nailed the peak for the US and it appears at the moment for the whole world he was only off by a few years, not bad for a “mis prediction”
—————————————————————————————————-
Hubbert was good a predicting time of inflections, nothing more. His numbers on flow rates and long term curve shapes bear no resemblance to reality.
Let’s look at his gas curve: He predicted clear back in 1956 that US gas production would peak in 1972 at 38 BCFD. It did hit a primary peak in 1973, but at 60 bcfd. His curve would have us now at 6 bcfd, but actually is is 63 bcfd (exceeding the “peak”) and climbing.
His oil curve is being warped beyond recognition too.
As in climate science, Hubbert’s models show prediction is difficult, especially if it is about the future
———-
You are arguing academics. Doesn’t matter if Hubbert got his numbers wrong, peak oil is real. It is a thermodynamic and physical fact. His error does not make peak oil a myth.

404. James F. Evans says:
December 16, 2011 at 7:55 am
Flow rate tends to be determined by demand & consumption.
————————
False. Flow rates have geological and technical constraints. For example the less pourus the host rock the slower the flow rate. The more viscus the oil, the slower the flow rate. Well pipes get clogged with minerals (especially off shore) and can throttle the flow rate to almost nothing, Tertiary recovery with water injection reduces the amount of oil from a well as the water cut increases. Even sand can be a major problem with some wells, killing them completely if the sand cut gets too high. Some wells in SA were shut down completely because the H2S content was too high and risk not only explosion but also deaths.
——————–
The answer to the flow rate is “a thousand straws”.
————————
No. More “straws” kills fields. This is what happened in texas and destroyed their fields. Extract the oil too fast and the well pressure drops, when the well pressure drops, it goes below the bubble point for disolved gases, which then displace the oil. Take oil too fast, and water under the deposit starts to flow as it moves easier, and it kills the well completely.
—————
Here that means simply adding additional “straws” (oil wells to existing fields — yes that means they will deplete faster) so that production or “flow rate” maintains a rough equallibrium with demand & consumption.
False. As noted, the faster the flow rate, the LOWER the over all production from a well.
——————
Why the “peaker’s” fixation on flow rate? Easy, because the proven reservers, which Willis Eschenbach has done such a good job of presenting has falsified the earlier “peaker” gambit of asserting that geological reserves of the Earth’s crust are near exhaustion. Yes, I know that’s not what “peakers” argue when pushed. But the rapid declines they predict make their claims of peak production very close to simply claiming exhaustion.
————————
Peak oil is not about exhaustion, its about flow rate. Once the flow rate drops below demand you have price spikes. Someone then does without the oil they need.
————-
Of course, now, “peakers” have changed even that claim by saying decline from peak will be gradual.
But that’s not what they claimed in the beginning. “Peaker’s” arguments evolve as each argument turns out to no match reality.
————————
Peak oil has always been about gradual decline in output as per a bell curve. Just look at Hubbert’s original graphs.

405. elbatrop says:

actually given the way the hubbert linearization method works and how the other field parameters are derived or calculated being off substantially when it comes to natural gas is to be expected
Oil or liquids however have physical constraints which can’t be avoided like permeability, pressure, and viscosity with the last variable causing larger errors as it decreases with respect to how the linearization method is applied. You also have to have enough data and accurate enough data. If you have economic or political constraints that get in the way of production these too must be factored in.
Accuracy to within a few years or decade however is plenty, the changes needed to deal with it or mitigate it will take decades to happen even with the political will to do so. The sooner it is realized and acted on the better. The alternative sources of energy with their low density and economic leverage make for an ugly transition and even collapse if it is ignored for too long. Some will argue it is already too late. Exponential decline rates make for a pretty nasty reality.

406. Scott Brim says:

Let’s assume that over the next two-hundred years, a majority of the world’s population is successfully rescued from poverty and from the ravages of overpopulation, and that this process occurs through the progressive industrialization of most 2nd-world and 3rd-world nations located in Asia and in Africa.
Let’s also assume that by the year 2300, three quarters of the world’s energy consumption occurs on the Asian and African continents as a direct result of the progressive industrialization of the nations and the populations which are located there.
If I was a betting man, and if I was predicting the future of the world’s energy resources over the next 100 to 200 years based on the above scenario, I would bet that both fusion and thorium will eventually be demonstrated to be technological and economic dead ends, and that what we call renewables — wind, solar, and geothermal — will at most comprise perhaps 15% of the world’s total energy resource.
I’ll speculate as well that in the year 2300, some combination of conventional-scale nuclear and modular-scale nuclear might hold another 15% market share of the world’s total energy resources.
My guess is that the majority fraction of the world’s energy resources for the next 100 to 200 years, possibly 70% or more, will still come from carbon fuels, simply for the fact that carbon fuels are very portable, are very energy dense, and have an easily managed and safely operated end-to-end supply chain infrastructure — just what is needed for 2nd and 3rd world nations whose populations are emerging from poverty and which need a fast and efficient means of implementing an energy consumption infrastructure on a fairly widespread basis.
In the year 2300, the world’s carbon fuel resources will comprise a broad mix of conventional coal reserves plus various liquid carbon fuels derived from a variety of sources — synthetic biofuels, natural gas, liquified natural gas, coal liquefaction, and whatever remains of the world’s conventional petroleum resources by that time.
If look at the liquid carbon fuels portion of the energy mix, and if we think of “oil” as being strictly the natural petroleum resources now being extracted from the ground, well of course there will be a “peak oil” event at some point in the future — twenty years from now, forty years from now, a hundred years from now — whenever it happens to happen.
But if we speculate that steady progress occurs in the technology and the economics of liquid carbon fuel production over the next two-hundred years, there is little reason to think that most of the world won’t still be largely relying on a carbon fuels infrastructure in the year 2300.

407. Doug says:
December 16, 2011 at 7:55 am
jrwakefield says:
December 16, 2011 at 7:08 am
Water injection is only done during tertiary production, that’s the last stage and indicates the life of a field is near the end.
Regarding Ghawar. And you believe the Saudis???? Read Twighlight in the Desert. They are liars.
————————————————————————————————-
Water injection is often done from day one of production. It is done for various reasons, such a ensuring proper sweep, and preventing down dip gas cap expansion.
————-
Water cut reduces oil flow rate. The higher the cut, the less oil you extract.
Is Ghawar in tertiary recovery? Yes or no. If yes, then it’s very near the end of its life, output will fall. And yes, I know about the CO2 injection they plan on doing soon. Last ditched efforts to get every drop they can. That’s classic sign of a dying field.
Saudis lying? How come their reserves have not changed in 30 years of production? Not physically possible.

408. elbatrop says:

tertiary techniques usually end up extending the plateau period of production with a far steeper and shorter decline phase as exhibited by the north sea, cantarell, etc etc while only marginally changing the URR
Water drive or injection can be used conservatively but in general yes once the water cut is quite high there is not turning back and the field is well into its depletion phase with a permanent decline in production. This is pretty typical of the US with thousands of wells using water drive, they still produce but they still are in a permanent and gradual decline.
The Saudi’s have been gradually encircling ghawar with an ever tighter circle of recovery wells and injection wells, this can be seen by satellite. When it goes into decline if it isn’t already there it will quite likely be very quick and very steep. It’s an old old oil field that has been producing for a long time, even super giant fields deplete sooner or later.

409. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 16, 2011 at 5:01 am

… So Willis, you’re saying you do agree with peak oil but you dont agree with it? I’m confused. (yes this is your cue to misquote me to your advantage).

Tim, if you are going to accuse me of misquoting you, at least have the balls to indicate where I’m supposed to have done so. Otherwise it’s just as meaningful as a prediction of peak oil … but much more underhanded.
w.

410. Scott Brim says:
December 16, 2011 at 8:53 am
Let’s assume that over the next two-hundred years, a majority of the world’s population is successfully rescued from poverty and from the ravages of overpopulation, and that this process occurs through the progressive industrialization of most 2nd-world and 3rd-world nations located in Asia and in Africa.
—–
Though none of us will be around to bicker about 2300, I’ll add my 2c. By 2300 ocean travel will be 100% wind via wooden sail boats. Land travel will be a mix, short travel by horse and buggy, long distances by steam locomotives buring wood. We will still have electrical power, nukes, hydro and a bit of coal.
Liquid fuels, if any, will be allocated for food production.
But as wth all predictions of the future, they are all wrong.

411. Willis Eschenbach says:

Here’s what I don’t get about “peak oil”.
1) What is it good for?
I mean, suppose someone magically could once and for all prove that peak oil happened in 2004 … what would anyone do differently? Everyone knows that we’re somewhere near the peak, and that if it didn’t happen already it will happen in the next couple of decades or so. People are already beavering away at a rate of knots to find alternatives. So suppose we could establish the actual time of peak oil to the nearest minute …
So what?
I mean, what would you do differently if you knew peak oil had already passed? On the other hand, that difference would it make if you knew it would occur in 2014?
And that’s all assuming we could see it coming beforehand … but we’ve proven over and over that we can’t predict peak oil.
I see no benefit in the concept. We can’t see it coming, we may not be able to see it in the rear view window, and even if we could I greatly doubt that it would change anyone’s beliefs or actions.
So what good is it?
2) After decades of failures, why does anyone pay any attention to the incessant predictions (all with different dates) of peak oil?
Seriously, other than climate science, I can’t think of a field with as many totally failed predictions as peak oil. I listed only a tiny fraction of them above, there’s lots more. How come people still believe them?
As I mentioned above, I didn’t discuss “peak oil” in the head post because I find it meaningless. My point was quite different—the end of the era of oil will not happen suddenly, we’re not running out of oil, and we have decades to make the transition REGARDLESS OF WHEN PEAK OIL OCCURS.
w.

• Stephen Harris says:

@w.
1. What is knowledge of Peak Oil good for? The economy floats on oil. As it declines so does the economic model of perpetual growth. We cannot continue sticking our head in the sand thinking nothing will change. It will. A change to a steady-state economy is essential. Urban form will drastically change; sprawl is out, density is in. Auto dependence is out, transit is in. Globalism is out local/regional manufacture is in. These will be fundamental changes. It’s best to be as prepared as we can. The longer we wait to change the worse it will get. Oil depletion will have long ranging political/military consequences as well, especially for the U.S.A. We gorge on oil, yet our own supply is fast falling. This will, I’m sure, force some sort of resource war in the future. What do you think the Iraq war was all about? The hope was to install a puppet government to ensure a steady supply of oil.
2. Can we see it coming? Yes we can, and those of who look (including Dick Cheney, who warned of it in 1998), see it coming. Do we know the exact date? No, but we know enough to say that ultimate peak production will about 92-95mbd; right now we’re at 88mbd or so.
3. Peak Oil not mentioned in the post? Come on! The entire post was all about Peak Oil. Why else talk about production and reserve.
4. The end of the oil era. Correct, the oil era won’t end overnight. We will still have oil long after we’ve gone through the political and economic upheavals depletion will cause. It’s just that it will be very costly, available in quantity only to rich nations or those still blessed with reserves. The rest will have to power down and make do.
5. We have decades to make the transition. No we don’t. Most oil experts predict permanent decline by 2020, or sooner. The oil infrastructure is enormous. It will take a generation of dedicated effort and trillions of dollars to transition away from primarily oil to primarily something else. In fact the latest IEA report (a conservative organization that is careful about what it says) concludes the world needs to spend \$38 trillion dollars by 2035 to provide the energy we’ll need. That won’t happen.
We need to see the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be and make a concerted effort to change our way of life. Peak oil is a reality and has real consequences whether you believe it or not.

412. Willis Eschenbach says:

jrwakefield says:
December 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

Doug says:
December 16, 2011 at 8:08 am

Hubbert was good a predicting time of inflections, nothing more. His numbers on flow rates and long term curve shapes bear no resemblance to reality.
Let’s look at his gas curve: He predicted clear back in 1956 that US gas production would peak in 1972 at 38 BCFD. It did hit a primary peak in 1973, but at 60 bcfd. His curve would have us now at 6 bcfd, but actually is is 63 bcfd (exceeding the “peak”) and climbing.
His oil curve is being warped beyond recognition too.
As in climate science, Hubbert’s models show prediction is difficult, especially if it is about the future

———-
You are arguing academics. Doesn’t matter if Hubbert got his numbers wrong, peak oil is real. It is a thermodynamic and physical fact. His error does not make peak oil a myth.

jr, you seem to have missed Doug’s point. He didn’t say that “peak oil was a myth”. He didn’t hint that peak oil is a myth. He said nothing about it being a myth. That is nothing but your straw man.
Nor is he arguing “academics”. He is saying that Hubbard was unable to predict the peak gas, and that his “oil curve” bears no resemblance to reality. This is important because if we can only see the peak in the rear-view mirror and we can’t predict it in advance and the shape of the production curve doesn’t match reality … it’s kinda useless.
w.

413. elbatrop says:

actually you won’t have decades at all, the economic damage and change happens very quickly
going from a high leverage high density source to low density low leverage sources in a short time and the implications of real limits to total energy production mean an end to the way our current economic system and way of life functions
leverage is everything and there are limits to how low we can go and still run the systems and economies we have, most alternatives are borderline or fall short
The first signs are people and nations near the margins being priced right out of using much fossil energy at all, this has already happened and is ongoing and will get progressively worse.
The decline rate and scale makes a transition quite problematic. It is akin to retooling in the face of a semi permanent long term economic depression. Man doesn’t handle going backwards very well.

414. elbatrop says:

If anyone thinks the decline in conventional oil we be relatively slow you might want to take a look at the world oil export market and what it has been doing. It is also important to consider and look at how well nations which have gone from oil exporting to net importers and how well they have fared. Some have done more or less ok, most have not. Oil exporting nations have rising domestic demands for oil while the top 40 or so exporters also have declining oil production. This makes the decline rate of their oil exports quite steep. Two exponential rates working together to reduce the world oil export market, a market all importers depend on. It doesn’t take long at the current trends to wipe out the available export market.

415. Scott Brim says:

jrwakefield: …… But as with all predictions of the future, they are all wrong.”

With these words, have you not acknowledged one of the key points of Willis Eschenbach’s essay?
However, knowing that predictions of the future can never be 100% accurate, it is usually (but not always) a safe bet to predict that current trends will continue.
To wit:
-> Mother Nature will continue to warm the planet until she decides, in her infinite wisdom, that she no longer wants to warm the planet. She is fickle, however, and she may change her mind at the drop of a hat.
-> The relentless march of science and technology will combine with the relentless march of human and economic progress to continue finding solutions to the world’s emerging resource constraint issues. (Such issues are always emerging, and always will be emerging.)
-> Humans will continue to adapt their behaviors, their attitudes, their economies, and their societies as necessary to deal with emerging resource constraint issues. (Such issues are always emerging, and always will be emerging.)
-> Western societies will continue to pursue a rainbow agenda of social justice goals, economic justice objectives, and environmental justice politics — doing so at the direct expense of their economic productivity, thus ceding the means of creating new wealth to economic competitors in Asia, and eventually, in Africa.
Sure, from some set of narrowly-defined perspectives, “peak oil” is coming some day, but as Willis says, “So what?”

416. Willis Eschenbach says:
December 16, 2011 at 10:12 am
Willis Eschenbach says:
December 16, 2011 at 10:12 am
Here’s what I don’t get about “peak oil”.
1) What is it good for?
==============
JRW: I guess it would depend on your worldview as to the consequences of peak oil. There is a wide array of predictions from a 98% cull in humans (due to starvation and resource wars) to business as usual using alternatives. Reality will be somewhere inbetween. There are two levels of effect. Government and personal. At the personal level passing peak (which will not happen in the world evenly, some places will start to see supply shortages sooner than others, watch the EU) will mean fuel poverty (already happening in the UK, and happened in Russia after the USSR collapsed). Fuel poverty will mean long lines for gasoline, unable to buy certain food products, price spikes in other essentials, which means people spending more on goods or paying mortgages, which means more defaults, which means runs on banks (as in Greece right now), job loses as businesses go bust, which means no money for food, which means rioting in the streets (again as in the EU, Egypt, etc). So for the individual, just a small disconnect between supply and demand caused social unrest. One only has to see how people behave when a toy is short at a store at Xmas time. People have died over trying to be first to the last of a kid’s toy!! Imagine how people will react when grosary stores start to run short, especially in winter.
This then comes to what governments can do right now. Assuming the next version of civilization is different than today, in a world were liquid fuels is so constrained that it is allocated only for absolute essentials like food production, then personal transportation will go back to the horse and buggy. To make that transition smooter, we could spend money on a massive horse and beast of burdon breeding program instead of wind turbines (which in 20 years will be rusting idol hulks). We could also transform as many homes and buildings to ground source heat pumps and off oil and gas as possible. Build more nuke plants (including LFTR) as we will need more electrical power to suppliment the loss of oil. We could also start a massive greenhouse building program for local food production in winter.
=============
I mean, what would you do differently if you knew peak oil had already passed? On the other hand, that difference would it make if you knew it would occur in 2014?
=============
JRW: I have already assumed we are in the peak period and have changed accoridingly. This includes moving out of the big city into a small town surrounded by farmland. Learning to grow as much of my own food as possible. Building a year round greenhouse. And training in firearms. Even if the effects of peak oil don’t come in my lifetime, highly unlikely given the economic climate we are in (the AU government told their banks they have one week to prepare for an EU collapse), then what I have done is passed on to my decendents.
=============
And that’s all assuming we could see it coming beforehand … but we’ve proven over and over that we can’t predict peak oil.
==============
JRW: But we can. Just look at the fields in decline. The lack of size and difficulty of new fields coming on stream. There are lots of signals that peak oil is coming, and if not now, soon.
=============
2) After decades of failures, why does anyone pay any attention to the incessant predictions (all with different dates) of peak oil?
=============
JRW: Eventually the Wolf did come to the door.

417. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis “Tim, if you are going to accuse me of misquoting you, at least have the balls to indicate where I’m supposed to have done so.”
I didn’t acuse you of misquoting me. I was expecting you to attack me for being confused on your views on this topic with some sort of snide remark. I’m glad you didn’t.
Can we clear this up though? You’ve said in the main article that “the data shows we certainly don’t need to hurry to replace oil with solar energy or rainbow energy or wind energy in the next few decades.”
So do you believe that peak oil wont come for at least a few more decades?

418. elbatrop says:
December 16, 2011 at 10:28 am
actually you won’t have decades at all, the economic damage and change happens very quickly
———
Punctuated Equilibrium rules supreme.

419. David Boleneus says:

To all…
I can see my opinions have been stepped on and tossed around. It’s a lively discussion. I guest that’s the unique way where each writes nearly without inhibition, without worry of getting a blackened eye or nose bleed—on account of the distance between all of us. I liken it to the effect of meds one gets before the procto doc has his way with you.
Oh, and thanks Willis for adding the graph of recent US and NA data. Certainly its kind of bumpy. But I did spend ample time. Perhaps its just a difference of opinion, even from the same data.
There is one question I want to ask: Do you regular contributors have a life outside of this thread?

420. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Willis

“Tim, if you are going to accuse me of misquoting you, at least have the balls to indicate where I’m supposed to have done so.”

I didn’t acuse you of misquoting me. I was expecting you to attack me for being confused on your views on this topic with some sort of snide remark. I’m glad you didn’t.

Thanks for the clarification, Tim, my bad.

Can we clear this up though? You’ve said in the main article that “the data shows we certainly don’t need to hurry to replace oil with solar energy or rainbow energy or wind energy in the next few decades.”
So do you believe that peak oil wont come for at least a few more decades?

No. I believe that peak oil is meaningless whenever it comes. It won’t change anything. Oil prices will continue to rise, as they have done for most of my life. There will be less and less oil in reserve, as there has been for my whole life. People will fight over the oil producing areas, as they have for my whole life. How will someone proving that production has peaked change that?
We have proven already that we can’t predict peak oil. We’ve seen prediction after prediction come and go, failures every one of them. The CIA said it would be in 1989 … did that prediction help us in any way? More to the point, would it have helped us even if it came true? I sure don’t see how. We know we’re gonna be in for tight times down the line … but having people argue about peak oil doesn’t change that at all. Some folks say it’s already happened … if so, where are the effects?
So when you finally figure out that peak oil did occur, which will likely be five or ten years after it happens, please drop me an email to let me know. At that point I’ll reply … “so what?” What good will it do you to figure it out then? How will that change anything?
Oil is a finite resource. But it’s not running out fast, and it’s not running out tomorrow. The oil age won’t end because of lack of oil.
Finally, people say “but the price will rise”. First … the price is already rising. But more importantly, that price rise is what will make other forms of energy cost effective. We don’t know what that energy will be, and it is foolish to try to outguess the future.
So yes, Tim, peak oil will come … and go ….
And prices will rise, after the peak, just as they did before the peak.
But we’re not running out tomorrow. And when prices rise enough, then and only then will we change fuel sources. Trying to hasten that process with subsidies is more than dumb. It drives the price of fuel up now, depriving the poor of energy.
Because although I know that lots of people (perhaps including you) think that expensive energy is a good thing, and that we should raise the price to force people to use less … all that does is guarantee that the poor will be cold in the winter, or that they can’t afford to drive to work. That might be OK with you. Me, I think artificially increasing fuel prices is a crime against humanity.
w.

421. Willis, price of oil won’t continue to rise. There is a ceiling. Once it reaches a certain point that the economy cannot handle, it triggers recessions. Then the demand drops, and the price drops. Each successive cycle will not rise as high in price as the previous in a world were oil supply is falling. That’s because the economy becomes more sensitive to the price increases. This is because the economy loses too much GDP with each fall. Couple this with the debt crisis and we are in peak oil consequences now, and just beginning the downward cycle.
And because of that, there won’t be excess oil available to move to alternatives. It’s a trap. We need more FF to make the alternatives to get off FF, but using that FF to make alternatives takes FF out of the regular economy. This was well discussed in this article
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8526
That means people do without. People who do without who are used to not doing without are unpredictable. In a way you are right, there is very little we can do about it. Collectively there is nothing we can do about it. Governments already know about it (JOE 2011). Are already planning to deal with the social consequences of peak oil. That leaves one to do what they can now on their own, before the rush starts.

422. Smokey says:

jrwakefield,
I think you should get some sort of an award for the number of posts in this thread! Close to seventy so far if I’m counting right. However, you’re still fixated on “peak oil”. That phrase sounds like a sharp point that we go almost straight up to reach, and then suddenly come straight down afterward. I think it’s more like a long parabola, and we may be at the top – or we may have a long way to go before we reach the top. If you had faith in the free market, you wouldn’t be so concerned. Yes, the easy pickins’ are mostly gone, but there is still plenty of oil. The free market pricing mechanism will provide oil. It will be more expensive. Maybe \$300 a barrel in a few years. But that will cause more oil to be produced. It’s there, it will just cost more to produce it.
And as you probably know, coal can be converted to oil. We have at least a couple centuries of coal. And folks everywhere were predicting running out of natural gas. Now it’s a glut on the market. Who could foresee that thirty years ago?
As I’ve noted here before, almost the entire U.S. coast including Alaska is completely off-limits to exploration and drilling. It’s illegal to even look for oil in those offshore locations. But is there any doubt that with the technological advances in deepwater drilling, that we can discover enormous new sources if given the green light? The continental shelf extends far out to sea, and 3 – 4 decades ago no one was interested in it because of the difficulty in deepwater drilling. But now that those technical problems have been solved, the government has stepped in and ruled that companies may not even explore for the oil that is certainly there. The result is very high gasoline prices; cause and effect.
The problem is government, not lack of oil. At this point it appears certain that the high cost of oil is entirely due to government restrictions on supply. Predictions of ‘peak oil’ are always faulty, because government interference completely distorts the energy markets to the point that accurate predictions simply cannot be made. Thus, as Willis points out, “Seriously, other than climate science, I can’t think of a field with as many totally failed predictions as peak oil.”
Those who control oil control power. Is it any wonder that the government wants to control the supply of oil? By ignoring government interference – the elephant in the room – you’re bound to arrive at a faulty conclusion.

423. u.k.(us) says:

Willis Eschenbach says:
December 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm
“Because although I know that lots of people (perhaps including you) think that expensive energy is a good thing, and that we should raise the price to force people to use less … all that does is guarantee that the poor will be cold in the winter, or that they can’t afford to drive to work. That might be OK with you. Me, I think artificially increasing fuel prices is a crime against humanity.
w.”
==========
Did you forget to mention, it leads the poor (and their votes) further into the Government subsidies trap.

424. u.k.(us) says:
December 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm
….
Did you forget to mention, it leads the poor (and their votes) further into the Government subsidies trap.

Yes, and it’s a painful process. I’m in contact with a retiree in Maine whose heating fuel subsidy was cut 70% (general slash, not personal), and was pathetically grateful that a one-time SS payment was going to be enough to permit him to buy heating oil this winter. He’s disabled, and he and his wife subsist on ~\$500/mo SS.
But there are millions of others who are drawn into the same corrall, and end up self-disabled, unemployable. etc. It’s a vicious circle with bloody, serrated, sharp teeth.

425. Spector says:

RE: jrwakefield: (December 16, 2011 at 10:04 am)
“Though none of us will be around to bicker about 2300, I’ll add my 2c. By 2300 ocean travel will be 100% wind via wooden sail boats. Land travel will be a mix, short travel by horse and buggy, long distances by steam locomotives [burning] wood. We will still have electrical power, nukes, hydro and a bit of coal.”
I see reversion to a nineteenth century population and lifestyle as a likely consequence, if Dave Springer’s fears about the impracticality of thorium nuclear power were to eventually prove true, or if the ‘Green Earth’ movement were to ban its development. Some Earth-First believers may consider the resultant population reduction to be beneficial for the environment, but social disruption likely during the population reduction period could cause long-lasting major environmental damage.
Kirk Sorensen has stated that his high-temperature liquid-state thorium reactors could be used to disassociate water into oxygen and hydrogen, and also allow the manufacture of synthetic transportation fuels that would be cheaper than petroleum. Of course, this last claim has yet to be proved; it depends on the margin of practicality. They do expect their installations to be much smaller and inherently less dangerous than equivalent old-style nuclear reactors.

426. Spector says:

I do not like the term ‘Peak Oil’ either. What is really being implied is an energy famine; potentially, a killing famine. If this condition begins with a shock, I think that would more likely be because of political factors or conflicts rather than the operation of any mathematical curve. It is regrettable that this condition has been predicted prematurely in the past as a real warning, now or in the future may be disregarded until the situation degrades into an irreversible predicament.
We do know that carbon power from the Earth is limited, and, barring the discovery of a vast underground reserve that is orders of magnitude larger than any we have ever found before, it will be gone in the not too distant future. It is quite true that man is ingenious and likely will find a new practical source of energy to replace the exhausted carbon, but that won’t happen soon, if we all just sit on the beach and wait for our ship to come in.

427. Frosty says:

@smokey
“But is there any doubt that with the technological advances in deepwater drilling, that we can discover enormous new sources if given the green light?”
A quick google doesn’t seem to leave much room for optimism.
The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90 percent less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.”
Looks like the onshore reserve is only 896 mln barrels, which if the US keeps it all for themselves, will last them around 47 days at current consumption.[2]
“Conditional OK for Shell’s Alaska offshore oil plan” [3] The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Friday conditionally approved Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc’s revised plan to drill six oil exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea offshore of Alaska next year,” …..”The conditional approval seeks to mitigate the risk of an end-of-season spill by requiring cessation of drilling 38 days before the annual onset of sea ice, typically November 1, to allow time for blowout control and cleanup in the event of an accident.”
So, seems the green light is almost shinning on Alaska, somehow I can’t see how “enormous new sources” will provide the gap filler for the 3-6% decline rate of total production [3] if they can only keep the straw in the seabed half the year. What gives you cause for optimism in Alaska, have you any references? I guess time will tell!
Anyone wondering about the implications of peak oil would do well to spend some time looking at the economic picture, I can’t think of a better primer than Chris Martensons Crash Course [4]
[2]http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-energy-oil-consumption
[3]http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5395

428. Frosty says:
429. spector, wakefield, and miko are arrogant beyond all conception. They believe they can extrapolate present technologies and economics into the dim medium and long futures. Foolishness. No one could have anticipated the last half century, and the rate of advance is accelerating as we speak.
There are energy generation and storage techs which are less than a decade out which will render their primitivization projections ludicrous. You won’t have to wait till 2100, or even 2050, to see a total (positive) transformation.
Fossil fuel will have a role, but will no longer be a choke point.

430. To clarify and specifically address miko: actually, there is fossil fuel (petroleum and hydrocarbons) to burn. The need for that use of them will fade and subside long before they run short.

431. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “So yes, Tim, peak oil will come … and go …. And prices will rise, after the peak, just as they did before the peak.”
OK, thanks for your clarification on your views. I believe quite differently because once peak oil has come and gone (and I mean peak oil here, not some blip in the landscape of production) then every day that follows (on average) will see a little less oil available for us to use. IMO it is quite a different situation to what we’re used to and not at all comparable to anything we’ve previously experienced.
I can only speculate on what that will mean but IMO it goes well beyond some abstract economics vs market forces correction concept. Its actual hardship, real hardship that will follow.

432. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis write “Some folks say it’s already happened … if so, where are the effects?”
I should write to this too… surely you can see the effects of flatlining supply? the price of oil has skyrocketed over the last few years.
If this is actually peak oil, then we can expect those prices to further increase over time.

433. Spector says:

RE: Brian H: (December 17, 2011 at 3:23 am)
“spector, wakefield, and miko are arrogant beyond all conception. They believe they can extrapolate present technologies and economics into the dim medium and long futures. Foolishness. No one could have anticipated the last half century, and the rate of advance is accelerating as we speak.
“There are energy generation and storage techs which are less than a decade out which will render their primitivization projections ludicrous. You won’t have to wait till 2100, or even 2050, to see a total (positive) transformation.”

So far, only Kirk Sorensen’s liquid fluoride thorium reactor technology has impressed me as an energy generation method that might easily replace carbon power before or after it runs out.
Traditional light water uranium nuclear reactors produce dangerous transuranic wastes at a rate that may not be sustainable for long-term future use. Fusion power seems to be plagued by a strong proton-to-proton repulsion problem that has defied our best minds over the last fifty years. The so-called green wind and solar power methods seem to have been limited to the provision of about one percent of our current needs despite a very concerted effort to subsidize their development as a means to prevent catastrophic global warming.
The exhaustion of carbon power, *without* an equivalent replacement, can only be presumed to result in a forced return to a near pre-petroleum population and lifestyle.

434. I could not bother and just let you all find out the hard way.
Smokey says: However, you’re still fixated on “peak oil”. That phrase sounds like a sharp point that we go almost straight up to reach, and then suddenly come straight down afterward. I think it’s more like a long parabola, and we may be at the top – or we may have a long way to go before we reach the top.
RW: I didn’t coin the term, it’s not wrong just because you misinterpret the meaning. It is a bell curve skewed to the left (a long depletion time)
Smokey says: If you had faith in the free market, you wouldn’t be so concerned. Yes, the easy pickins’ are mostly gone, but there is still plenty of oil. The free market pricing mechanism will provide oil. It will be more expensive. Maybe \$300 a barrel in a few years. But that will cause more oil to be produced. It’s there, it will just cost more to produce it.
RW: Guess you did not read all those posts then. I already explained all of this with links showing that markets CANNOT defy the laws of physics.
Smokey says: And as you probably know, coal can be converted to oil. We have at least a couple centuries of coal. And folks everywhere were predicting running out of natural gas. Now it’s a glut on the market. Who could foresee that thirty years ago?
RW: again, go back though my posts, I already posted a link about shale gas. Coal to oil is negative ERoEI.
Smokey says: As I’ve noted here before, almost the entire U.S. coast including Alaska is completely off-limits to exploration and drilling.
RW: In previous posts I asked if anyone uses a deposit to discredit peak oil, that they should read up on the geology and find out how much oil is in place. Have you done that? How much is there? (I already know the answer, but it looks like you don’t’)
Smokey says: The problem is government, not lack of oil. At this point it appears certain that the high cost of oil is entirely due to government restrictions on supply. Predictions of ‘peak oil’ are always faulty, because government interference completely distorts the energy markets to the point that accurate predictions simply cannot be made. Thus, as Willis points out, “Seriously, other than climate science, I can’t think of a field with as many totally failed predictions as peak oil.”
RW: Peak oil is regardless of the cause. It’s a mix of geology, technology, political, monitary, ERoEI.
Smokey says: Those who control oil control power. Is it any wonder that the government wants to control the supply of oil? By ignoring government interference – the elephant in the room – you’re bound to arrive at a faulty conclusion.
RW: 80% of the world’s supply is controled by governments, the vast majority of which are no friends to democracy. Stop thinking that peak oil is a geological cliff. It is not. As I have posted MANY TIMES soon as the demand exceeds the supply, someone does without the oil they need. That causes recessions.
Peak oil is serious enough that the military in the US and Germany have released reports: http://www.peakoil.net/files/JOE2010.pdf

435. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 17, 2011 at 6:20 am

Willis writes “So yes, Tim, peak oil will come … and go …. And prices will rise, after the peak, just as they did before the peak.”
OK, thanks for your clarification on your views. I believe quite differently because once peak oil has come and gone (and I mean peak oil here, not some blip in the landscape of production) then every day that follows (on average) will see a little less oil available for us to use. IMO it is quite a different situation to what we’re used to and not at all comparable to anything we’ve previously experienced.
I can only speculate on what that will mean but IMO it goes well beyond some abstract economics vs market forces correction concept. Its actual hardship, real hardship that will follow.

Thanks, Tim. Production peaked in 1979, and dropped for five years after that. People claimed during that time that we’d reached peak oil. During that time, every day that followed saw (on average) a little less oil available for us to use. Nor was this “some blip”, the 1979 production peak was not exceeded for a decade and a half.
Funny, I don’t recall any of your predicted bad outcomes occurring from that 15 years of diminished oil production …
w.

436. Willis Eschenbach says:

TimTheToolMan says:
December 17, 2011 at 6:25 am

Willis write “Some folks say it’s already happened … if so, where are the effects?”
I should write to this too… surely you can see the effects of flatlining supply? the price of oil has skyrocketed over the last few years.
If this is actually peak oil, then we can expect those prices to further increase over time.

2008 oil price, ~ \$145 per barrel
December 16, 2011 oil price, \$93.53 per barrel.
If that is “skyrocketing prices”, give me more …
Surely you must know that there are a host of factors other than supply that affect both production and price … for example, if you expect fuel production/use to go up during a global recession, you’ll likely be disappointed.
w.

437. Willis Eschenbach says:

jrwakefield says:
December 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

… Peak oil is serious enough that the military in the US and Germany have released reports: http://www.peakoil.net/files/JOE2010.pdf

Say what? Here’s what that citation of yours says about peak oil …

This shows oil production increasing until 2030 … so I fear that according to your own cited resource, the “military in the US and Germany” don’t see a peak in oil production for decades.
In fact, far from seeing peak oil as “serious” as you claim, your document mentions peak oil exactly once in 71 pages …
Do you actually read this stuff before citing it? Because that document you cited totally opposes and demolishes your own argument.
w.

438. 2008 oil price, ~ \$145 per barrel
December 16, 2011 oil price, \$93.53 per barrel.
If that is “skyrocketing prices”, give me more …
Willis, the raw price isn’t important. What is is the ratio the average person has to pay for energy and energy related consumables like food.
The spike in 2008 was caused by demand greater that supply. Notice the price of oil ic steadily climbing back up from a major drop after 2008. Question is, what is the price going to be to trigger another recession? Below 140.

439. Stephen Harris says:

@W
The graph you posted presents the IEA’s official view of the world through rose colored glasses. You have to to learn how to read the IEA to understand how to get around the political message it needs to send.
First, everything but the Blue field are optimistic projections; the best case scenario. How often does that happen? Smart readers know projections never pan out as planned.
Developing existing reserves (purple zone) assumes ALL reserves will be developed as planned and that such reserves actually have the oil assumed. That never happens. A more realistic assumption is to cut it in half. Enhanced oil recoveries (green zone) assumes modern technology will have amazing success at squeezing every last drop of oil out of a well. Again, there will be some success but the realistic assumption is to cut it in half. The NCO (tan zone) is too small to matter, even if it’s 100% correct. The red zone is pure wishful thinking.
With that understanding, what should really stand out is the Blue field. It’s the only one based on hard production numbers and know decline rates not guessing (no matter how educated or politically motivated). That is the information we should be planning around because it’s the only one that is pretty close to realistic.
Here’s a quote form Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA: “We are on the brink of a new energy order. Over the next few decades, our reserves of oil will start to run out and it is imperative that governments in both producing and consuming nations prepare now for that time. We should not cling to crude down to the last drop – we should leave oil before it leaves us. That means new approaches must be found soon” The Independent March 2, 2008.
Coming from a conservative organization that’s a pretty telling quote.

440. Willis, the only part of that graph that shows any increase is the undeveloped. That’s just a guess..
Page 26:
Peak Oil
As the figure at right shows, petroleum must continue to satisfy most of the demand for energy
out to 2030. Assuming the most optimistic scenario for improved petroleum production through
enhanced recovery means, the development of non-conventional oils (such as oil shales or tar
sands) and new discoveries, petroleum production will be hard pressed to meet the expected future demand of 118 million barrels per day.
“That production bottleneck apart, the potential sources of future energy supplies nearly all present their own difficulties and vulnerabilities. None of these provide much reason for optimism.”
Page 30:
“A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India. At best, it would lead to periods of harsh economic adjustment. To what extent conservation measures, investments in alternative energy production, and efforts to expand petroleum production from tar sands and shale would mitigate such a period of adjustment is difficult to predict. One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest.”

441. Stephen Harris says:

@W
From the J.O.E. Energy Section
“ENERGY
To meet even the conservative growth rates posited in the economics section, global energy production would need to rise by 1.3% per year. By the 2030s, demand is estimated to be nearly 50% greater than today. To meet that demand, even assuming more effective conservation measures, the world would need to add roughly the equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s current energy production every seven years”.
And,
“Peak Oil: Assuming the most optimistic scenario for improved petroleum production through enhanced recovery means, the development of non-conventional oils (such as oil shales or tar sands) and new discoveries, petroleum production will be hard pressed to meet the expected future demand of 118 million barrels per day”.
Note that the J.O.E. uses I.E.A. information including their usual rosy projections. Yet still, the military shows deep concern of energy supplies.
Where are we going to find a new Saudi Arabia every 7 years? They produce about 9.5 mbd. What if the projections are at best half right, we’ll need more fossil fuel than the military thinks.
Again, if a conservative organization is concerned about future energy, we all should be.

442. Willis Eschenbach says:

Stephen Harris says:
December 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

@W
The graph you posted presents the IEA’s official view of the world through rose colored glasses. You have to to learn how to read the IEA to understand how to get around the political message it needs to send.

Hey, I’m not the one who cited that graph. You’ll have to take it up with a) jrwakefield, or b) the us and german military. They posted it.
w.

443. Willis Eschenbach says:

jrwakefield says:
December 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Willis, the only part of that graph that shows any increase is the undeveloped. That’s just a guess..

jr, you are the one who cited that graph, not me. Peak oil is only mentioned once in the document. Even without any new discoveries there’s no “peak” in their graph.
Next time, read before citing. Your backing and filling is totally unconvincing.
w.

444. TimTheToolMan says:

Wiliis writes “Funny, I don’t recall any of your predicted bad outcomes occurring from that 15 years of diminished oil production …”
Short memory Willis.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_1980s_recession
Dont forget there will be no coming back from peak oil.

445. TimTheToolMan says:

Willis writes “2008 oil price, ~ \$145 per barrel December 16, 2011 oil price, \$93.53 per barrel. If that is “skyrocketing prices”, give me more …”
Look carefully at your top graph where production dropped just a little recently.Compare that to the oil prices at the time and you will see that corresponds to a period where prices dropped. What kind of demand-supply condition creates that effect do you suppose? Normally reducing prices mean increasing usage dont they?

446. Smokey says:

TTTT says,
“Dont forget there will be no coming back from peak oil.”
But the question remains: are we at or past peak oil? The facts show that we’re not nearly at peak oil yet.

447. Spector says:

RE: Willis Eschenbach: (December 17, 2011 at 11:29 am)
The graph that you have posted is similar to one of the charts that Dr. Chris Martenson presented in the ‘Peak Oil’ clip from his longer (71 min) presentation at the Gold & Silver Meeting in Madrid. The full presentation was entitled “Unfixable – welcome to the new abnormal” and it was presented under the auspices of the Gold Money Foundation. He first points out that the growth of Total US Credit Market Debt from 1970 was almost a perfect fit to an exponential curve until 2008 when that growth suddenly stopped. This halt appears to correlate to the oil shock of 2008 and peak ‘cheap and easy’ conventional oil on your curve.
It is his view that the coming twenty years are going to be a period of stalled or limited growth in contrast to the past twenty-year period we have known. It appears that he advises people how they should adjust their investment strategies in the light of this view, as traditional growth dependent investments may be a losing proposition.

448. TimTheToolMan says:

Smokey writes “But the question remains: are we at or past peak oil? The facts show that we’re not nearly at peak oil yet.”
Which facts? Your link doesn’t show anything about whether we’re at peak oil or not. I’ll simply point to the graphic Willis started with at the top of this page and direct you to look at global production (blue line) which hasn’t increased in the last 6 or so years.

449. Anyhoo, who cares if “peak oil” has occurred? With the proliferating discoveries of tcf of Frac Gas, who needs it? Certainly not electric power plants. Lotsa Frac Oil and liquids associated with the FG wells, too, IAC.
Cue the desperate attempts to pooh-pooh and prohibit FG exploration …

• miko says:

yeah. “who cares” if the peak is sooner or later…??? let’s just dig it up and burn it. let’s just pumpit and BURN IT… let’s burn the whole planet! yahoo!!! who cares about future generations?

450. Frosty says:

Apparently there are somewhere between 7 to 75 billion kg. of Gold in the worlds oceans.
we’re rich! rich I tell you!
/sarc

451. Smokey says:

TTTT, look at the link in my post above. There is ample energy available in fossil fuels within the CONUS. Just because flow rates are artificially restricted does not mean we are at peak oil.

452. TimTheToolMan says:

Smokey writes “Just because flow rates are artificially restricted does jnot mean we are at peak oil.”
Artificially restricted? I’m not sure what link you’re referring to exactly but the one you did point out was regarding reserves and not production rate growth potential. If you truely believe in the free market then you’d believe production rates should be rising in line with strong asian growth over the last decade. We’re not seeing that.
What evidence or even considered reasoning do you specifically point to, to indicate the current 6 year flatlining of production is artificial?

453. Spector says:

RE: miko: (December 18, 2011 at 3:15 am)
“yeah. “who cares” if the peak is sooner or later…??? let’s just dig it up and burn it. let’s just pumpit and BURN IT… let’s burn the whole planet! yahoo!!! who cares about future generations?”
Over the next thousand years, there should be 40 generations. Do you propose to leave 97.5 percent of the oil in the ground for them; what about the next 40 generations after that?
I think our only responsibility to future generations is to leave them an undamaged world and a basis for living on it. That may include initial development of a new sustainable energy source. This is a case where you cannot eat your cake and let all your descendents eat it too. They have to bake their own.

454. Smokey says:

TTTT says:
“What evidence or even considered reasoning do you specifically point to, to indicate the current 6 year flatlining of production is artificial?”
The artificial restrictions on supply are in red. That is a HUGE restriction. Open those red areas to drilling, and the supply of oil will skyrocket, causing prices to plummet. Econ 101.

455. Smokey;
and when it comes to Frak Gas and oil, the onshore red areas are sprouting up all over, including NY state, which could really use it. Pennsylvania is chortling all the way to the bank on that one.

456. P.S.;
similar story in the EU. A few countries like Poland are saying “fuggedaboudit”, tho’.
Amusing note: it seems Poland is likely to block imports of excess super-wobbly German renewables power supply. The random surges and dips are too damaging and expensive to deal with. The Deutsch are horrified at losing a convenient garbage-watts dumping ground, apparently. Heh!

457. Spector says:
December 18, 2011 at 5:03 am
RE: miko: (December 18, 2011 at 3:15 am)
“yeah. “who cares” if the peak is sooner or later…??? let’s just dig it up and burn it. let’s just pumpit and BURN IT… let’s burn the whole planet! yahoo!!! who cares about future generations?”
Over the next thousand years, there should be 40 generations. Do you propose to leave 97.5 percent of the oil in the ground for them; what about the next 40 generations after that?
I think our only responsibility to future generations is to leave them an undamaged world and a basis for living on it. That may include initial development of a new sustainable energy source. This is a case where you cannot eat your cake and let all your descendents eat it too. They have to bake their own.

Said descendents will do just fine, in fact. The current generation is, as do all generations, working hard to improve the quantity and quality of energy sources. Renewables-freaks excepted.
E.g.: if the project at LPPhysics.com succeeds, proof and engineering and initial implementation could be in place in under 5 years. In which case the high-quality cheap energy problem is solved until about when the sun goes Red Giant.

458. Price of Oil to Remain High as OPEC Limits World Production
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Price-of-Oil-to-Remain-High-as-OPEC-Limits-World-Production.html
There would seem to be several reasons for applying an overall cap to OPEC production:
1. OPEC needs/wants high oil prices. They certainly don’t want the price of oil to fall by very much, if they are to have enough funds to pay for all their social programs. So holding production down is in their best interests. An overall cap provides as direct a way as possible of keeping overall production down.
2. It is not clear that most OPEC members have any spare capacity. Saudi Arabia may, in fact, need to “rest” its wells after pushing production to its recent high of 9.94 million barrels a day in oil production. Writing the agreement as an overall cap gives Saudi Arabia “cover” for resting its wells, as needed.
3. This approach is at least theoretically easier to administer. One or two or three countries can make a change in production, if desired, to bring total oil production down to the desired level, if others raise their production.
4. This approach gives a framework for future agreements that can be helpful if Iraq’s oil production should actually increase by very much. Iraq’s production is in effect pulled back in under the agreement.
5. This approach provides great “cover” if one or more OPEC countries experiences a decline in oil production. There is no need for embarrassment if an individual country should experience declining production, since a country can simply blame the result on a need to keep overall production within the selected limit, and thus “save face”. A country with very high stated reserves might be especially embarrassed by an unexplained decline in production, since this might also suggest that the stated reserves were inaccurate.

459. Gilles says:

Willis, peak oil is probably much closer than what you seem to believe.
“Proven reserves” is not the same as “predicted” reserves. Proven reserves include only the 90 % certain part. But there are also more uncertain, possible (50 % ) reserves. So the correct ratio should be R/(0.9 Proven+0.5Possible). The growth of Proven reserves has been technically obtained by the reclassification of possible reserves. However, even R/P has stopped to increase. Past the peak, both reserves AND production will decrease exponentially. So don’t expect R/P to decrease, we’ll always have 30 years of production ahead – but with a continuously decreasing production. IEA has already announced that conventional oil has peaked in 2006, and the perspectives after 2015 are glooming. That’s why most of fossil intensive scenarios are implausible – and the corresponding warming as well, even “if” climate models are right.

460. elbatrop says:

@ gilles
which is precisely why r/p is useless
this was explained earlier in this thread

• miko says:

follow the money, not the theory. who is getting rich by manipulating the “free” market??? look at the facts, people!

461. TimTheToolMan says:

Smokey writes “The artificial restrictions on supply are in red. That is a HUGE restriction. Open those red areas to drilling, and the supply of oil will skyrocket, causing prices to plummet. Econ 101.”
Probably not as huge as you think. For example ANWR is estimated to be about 10.4 billion barrels or around 4 months “global supply” equivalent. And of course the actual production rate will be tiny compared to the ~82 million barrels per day needed globally.

462. Stephen Harris says:

@W
Please scroll up a few comments. You copied and pasted the graph from the J.O.E. (a link which I provided earlier). You used it to support your claim, which I rebutted, explaining how to read IEA documents.
In any event, all I can say is please read up on this topic before wading into the waters.
Here’s a book for you to read. It’s by Robert L Hirsch. Google him if you don’t know who he is.
“The Impending World Energy Mess: What It Is And What It Means To YOU!”
by Robert L. Hirsch, Roger H. Bezdek, Robert M. Wendling
Available on Amazon

463. Spector says:

RE: Brian H: (December 18, 2011 at 5:41 am)
“E.g.: if the project at LPPhysics.com succeeds, proof and engineering and initial implementation could be in place in under 5 years. In which case the high-quality cheap energy problem is solved until about when the sun goes Red Giant.”
It appears that the movement to develop or try to develop Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors is in a much more advanced state than any for fusion power. Here is one example promotional video:
“Thorium Fission Energy Future – A Repost
Uploaded by vengencefrom1979 on Mar 19, 2011
9 likes, 0 dislikes; 240 views; 4:15 min
“Thorium Energy Alliance Conference – check for the next one at thoriumenergyalliance.com.
“The Thorium Energy Alliance is a 501(c)3 [pending] organization that promotes the research and development of a Thorium Energy Economy.
“This preliminary video presents the core reasons that Thorium must be pursued as an energy source.
“We encourage viewers to join the Thorium Energy Alliance and to contact decision makers and promote this overlooked and proven technology.”

464. Smokey says:

TTTT says:
“ANWR is estimated to be about 10.4 billion barrels or around 4 months ‘global supply’ equivalent.”
Thank you for proving my point. Note that there are at least 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil in only 3.13 square miles within the ANWR. If the hundreds of thousands of square miles off the U.S. coast including Alaska were opened for drilling instead of arbitrarily being placed off limits, there would be ample oil available.
You cannot prove that is wrong, because you would be trying to prove a negative; we don’t know the extent of our reserves because the Administration, goosed by the enviro crowd, will not allow any exploratory drilling. Ask yourself why not. And the answer is not over concern for the environment, otherwise the very same people would be howling about China’s drilling 30 miles off our coast.

465. Great article, Willis. Most interesting. Thanks as always to your contributions.
On a side note I was thinking the R/P Ratio meant the “Ron Paul Ratio”. LOL
RON PAUL 2012! 😉
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

466. Spector;
Two points:
1) If you read the LPP material, you’ll see that the proton repulsion problem is dealt with by the microsecond “pinching” of intense magnetic fields into nano-sized “plasmoids”, so containment and temperature are not a problem.
2) Thorium reactors are fine, an order or two of magnitude more expensive per Watt capacity*, and plagued with the extreme corrosive power of combined molten flouride salts and heavy neutron flux.
*The LPP DPF process is projected at 5¢/W, produced by small 5MW generators. Place in shipping container, deliver, install in a small home garage-sized building, connect to local grid, link to remote monitoring station, done. Staffing said station and a few 1-2 day service calls per year constitute almost all of the ongoing costs. Never mind apples and oranges, this is pumpkins vs. grapes.

467. typo/edit: “are fine, but an order or two… “.
The LPP process is waste-free and aneutronic (doesn’t use or create neutron flux). It uses alpha and X-ray radiation to generate its energy.

468. Spector says:

Brian H says: (December 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm)
“… 2) Thorium reactors are fine, an order or two of magnitude more expensive per Watt capacity*, and plagued with the extreme corrosive power of combined molten flouride salts and heavy neutron flux.”
The corrosiveness of the fluoride salt appears to be a controversial issue. While the two components of the salt are extremely corrosive as acids or bases, the salts themselves are described as relatively inert. These salts are not mixed with water. This is something like the case of an attractive husband and wife that are so jealous of each other that they will not let anyone else get within arm’s length of their spouse. In another article, Gail Combs quotes sections of a 1969 Oak Ridge test report stating that tests on an 8-MWt Molten Reactor were completely successful.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/11/the-contribution-of-fossil-fuels-to-a-feeding-humanity-and-b-habitat-conservation/#comment-828426
It is true that the fusion process would be cleaner than fission as no unstable nuclei are ever produced. The continually cycling, Molten Salt Reactor does remove most the dangerous, transuranic wastes that can have half-lives of 250,000 years. The remaining short-lived wastes decay in a few hundred years. Unlike the traditional solid fuel, light water reactors, these continually recycling liquid-state reactors can achieve near one hundred percent fissile efficiency.
Here is a presentation given by Dr. David LeBlanc from Canada on diverse Thorium Fueled Molten Salt Reactor design options, including efficiency and cost advantages. His field is reactor core design.
David LeBlanc – Potential of Thorium Fueled Molten Salt Reactors @ TEAC3
Uploaded by gordonmcdowell on Nov 27, 2011
30 likes, 0 dislikes; 1,164 views; 20:13 min
“Dr. David LeBlanc explores the diversity of Thorium Fueled Molten Salt Reactor design options, and their rational and value.
“Presented at the 3rd Thorium Energy Alliance Conference, in Washington DC.”

469. TimTheToolMan says:

Smokey writes “If the hundreds of thousands of square miles off the U.S. coast including Alaska were opened for drilling instead of arbitrarily being placed off limits, there would be ample oil available.”
And if I drilled in my back yard would I be rich too? Sorry, but for there to be oil available in those areas there needs to be …well… oil available there. You originally said we were nowhere near peak oil but in fact you appear to be saying there may be more reserve than we know about in some locations that haven’t been properly explored. There is a huge difference.

470. Smokey Re ANWR
“U.S. Department of Interior – 1987. After several years of surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys (in 1983-84 and 1984-85), the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), in its April, 1987 report on the oil and gas potential of the Coastal Plain, estimated that there are billions of barrels of oil to be discovered in the area. DOI estimates that “in-place resources” range from 4.8 billion to 29.4 billion barrels of oil. Recoverable oil estimates ranges from 600 million barrels at the low end to 9.2 billion barrels at the high end. They also reported identifying 26 separate oil and gas prospects in the Coastal Plain that could each contain “super giant” fields (500 million barrels or more). ”
http://www.anwr.org/backgrnd/potent.html
The US consumes 7 billion per year. ANWR is puny.

471. Smokey says:

jrwakefield,
You sound like a guy dying of thirst, and when offered a quart of water says, “No! I wanted a gallon!”
To call 10 billion barrels of oil “puny”, and use that as an apology for government interference shows where you’re coming from. You want the U.S. to run out of oil so you can win your unprovable argument. But we are still 40 years from runninog out of oil. And forty years from now folks like you will still be saying we only have 40 years left.
And TTTT, no one is saying there is oil under every square mile, that’s just your strawman.
The journal Science has an article you Malthusians may want to argue with.

472. elbatrop says:

@ smokey
40 years left at what flow rate?
and 10 billion barrels when the world is using in excess of 70 million barrels a day is puny
run the equations, they aren’t difficult, r/p can stay constant while flow rate and reserves drop 🙂

473. Willis Eschenbach says:

Thanks, Smokey. Quoting from the paywalled article Smokey cited:

Although hydrocarbon resources are irrefutably finite, no one knows just how finite. Oil is trapped in porous subsurface rocks, which makes it difficult to estimate how much oil there is and how much can be effectively extracted. Some areas are still relatively unexplored or have been poorly analyzed.
Moreover, knowledge of in-ground oil resources increases dramatically as an oil reservoir is exploited. For example, the Kern River field was discovered in California in 1899. Calculations in 1942 suggested that 54 million barrels remained. However, in 1942 “…after [43] years of depletion, ‘remaining’ reserves were 54 million barrels. But in the next [44] years, it produced not 54 but 736 million barrels, and it had another 970 million barrels ‘remaining’ in 1986. The field had not changed, but knowledge had….” (7).
This is but one of hundreds of cases reported in oil-related literature that underscore the inherently dynamic nature of oil reserves. As Klett and Schmoker have recently demonstrated, from 1981 to 1996 the estimated volume of oil in 186 well-known giant fields in the world [>0.5 billion (109) barrels (Bbl) of oil, discovered before 1981] increased from 617 to 777 Bbl without new discoveries (8).
Indeed, many studies have proved the phenomenon of “reserve growth”—i.e., that “additions to proven recoverable volumes are usually greater than subtractions” (8). This occurs because of four fundamental elements: technology, price, political decisions, and better knowledge of existing fields—the last of these being possible only through effective and intensive drilling.
7. M. Adelman, The Genie Out of the Bottle (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995).
8. T. R. Klett, J. W. Schmoker, AAPG Memoir No. 78, 107 (2003).

The article goes on to comment (emphasis mine):

Critics could note that new oil discoveries are only replacing one-fourth of what the world consumes every year (following a declining trend that began in the mid-1960s), and that increases in reserves largely derive from upward revisions of existing stock. However, the real issue is that neither major producing countries nor publicly traded oil companies are keen to invest money in substantial exploration campaigns.
The countries richest in oil have minimized their oil investments during the last 20 years, mainly for fear of creating a permanent excess capacity such as that which provoked the crisis in 1986 (when oil prices plummeted to below \$10/bbl). In fact, countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iraq (which together hold about 35% of the world’s proven reserves of oil) produce petroleum only from a few old fields, although they have discovered but not developed more than 50 new fields each. Moreover, in countries closed to foreign investments, the technologies and techniques used are, in most cases, obsolete.
Nevertheless, international public oil companies have faced two sets of limits to their expansion in the last 20 years. The first is inaccessibility to foreign investment in the largest and cheapest reserves—those in the Persian Gulf.
Second are the demands of financial markets, which for years have insisted that companies provide unrealistic, shortterm financial returns that are inconsistent with the long-term nature of oil investments. This has compelled private operators to reject opportunities that would normally be deemed economically worthwhile.
This financial pressure partly explains recent proven reserve downgrading by some oil companies, starting with the amazing cuts announced by the “supergiant” Shell Group (15). Indeed, this Anglo-Dutch oil company has not lost its resources. This picture has nothing to do with physical scarcity of oil.
15. PIW (Petrol. Intell. Wkly.), 19 January 2004.

w.

474. Scott Brim says:

Regardless of where they happen to come from, carbon fuels are a highly flexible technical means of storing and transporting energy to serve the needs of a wide variety of fixed and portable devices — portable generators, cars, trucks, ships, airplanes, you name it. The most successful replacements for liquid carbon fuels would be those which have a similar range of flexibility.
What will happen over the next 100 to 200 years as conventional and non-conventional petroleum resources are consumed is that the marketplace for transportation fuels will experiment with a variety of petroleum replacement technologies and will choose through a process of trial and error which of those technologies have the best combination of price and energy delivery performance.
In the process of this transition, there will be some winners and some losers along the way. That is the way the world works. However, if the process of transition is allowed to proceed largely unfettered, there will likely be many more winners than there are losers.
Our choice as western societies will be to either allow the marketplace to do its job of efficiently choosing the most useful technologies from a price-performance standpoint, or else to meddle in that process in ways that allow us to deliberately choose the winners and the losers; but unfortunately, doing so in ways that most probably will hinder our ability to create new wealth nearly as efficiently as we have done in the past.
More likely than not, and in contrast with western societies, China, India, and other smaller nations in Asia and in Africa will reject a centrally-managed approach to making this transition as being directly contrary to their national interests, and they will pursue their own methods and means in figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
In any case, my personal speculation is that carbon fuels from a variety of sources will still play an important role even after the easy petroleum is gone. Moreover, most of the world’s population will continue to make whatever sacrifices and tradeoffs are necessary to keep the process of creating new wealth moving steadily forward.

475. Scott;
The watermelons have latched onto Peak Oil so they can say, “See, there isn’t enough anyway so you might as well get with the program and put all your useless exploration funds into our lovely windmills and ethanol plants, and since the CO2 would have been Bad, aren’t you thankful we’re saving you while starving you?”
It’s Big Lies in Bunches; none of the assertions, or their implications, is true. Which makes them all more ‘fit for purpose’.

476. Brian H,
Ethanol, Windmills, Hydroelectric and all other sources are pretty good and more that welcome. Fossil Based Fuels (FBF) would remain the Giants for years. You know very well that, it’s not only because of the Quality, but due to the Infrastructures made for this source. Hydrocarbon sources have been so far, and will be for many years in the future as the main focused effective source. Concentration on one source of energy depends on how the sources can be accessible / sustainable, but there must be variety in the sources of energy too. Time is a key issue here. As long as we have the “variety”, we would have more time to be well prepared for any shift from this main source of FBF, to new (source)s. Meanwhile, using the FBF effectively is an instrument to make more times to find our solutions, all these are “MUST” and “AS IS”. And If for example Eric J.Lerner “LPPhysics” succeeds, much better.

477. Frosty says:

“However, the real issue is that neither major producing countries nor publicly traded oil companies are keen to invest money in substantial exploration campaigns. ”
If this is truly the “real issue” it is worrying considering:
an oil price over c.\$80 seems to initiate recession, yet the oil companies and major producing countries are “not keen” to invest in the required exploration in order to increase production and reduce the oil price.
It seems to boil down to either someone opens the global production tap, or a massive exploration brings new production online soon, or we maintain the current plateau of global production in the face of increasing demand, meaning the end of global growth, leading to financial Armageddon.
Peak or no, the current situation does not seem conducive to BAU IMO.

478. La Miya Casa says:
December 20, 2011 at 3:20 am
Brian H,
Ethanol, Windmills, Hydroelectric and all other sources are pretty good and more that welcome. Fossil Based Fuels (FBF) would remain the Giants for years.

but there must be variety in the sources of energy too. Time is a key issue here. As long as we have the “variety”, we would have more time to be well prepared for any shift from this main source of FBF, to new (source)s. Meanwhile, using the FBF effectively is an instrument to make more times to find our solutions, all these are “MUST” and “AS IS”. And If for example Eric J.Lerner “LPPhysics” succeeds, much better.

No, ethanol, windmills, [and solar] are NOT “pretty good and more [than] welcome”. They are horrifically overpriced, horribly inefficient, disruptive, and distract from doing stuff that actually works.
Hydro, once you get over the consequences of flooding valuable valleys, and disrupting fish migration and downstream cycling of water supplies and wetlands, etc., is indeed very good. But there are fewer and fewer suitable sites. Not enough to make a global contribution.
You can’t avoid the costs. You always have to pay. No escape.

• When I say Pretty “Good-More Than Welcome” it means:
1. This is the sound of confidence in something that never happens;
2.The so called resources, can never be a good substitutes for FBF;
3. The market should decide about a “COMMODITY” neither you nor me;
4. We let the market & conditions make decision what to do;
5. Cheap/Expensive/whatever are comparisons, when somebody likes to drive a Rolls Royce instead of BUS/Underground for a certain distance who’s going to stop this decision maker. It is clear that most the people are using the best that is not Rolls Royce for sure, but the BEST is of course, the Rolls Royce;
6. This is the meaning of VARIETY, why you and I should worry about what is cheap/expensive/… Windmills, Solar…I am okay because I know these are baby energy resources, so I let the thinkers do their best, in this jobless world you agree that this is an economical solution against inflation!, even I’ll help them to proceed and I’ll let them understand that, they should think better than ever.
In one word, OKAY DO IT if YOU CAN.

479. Spector says:

RE:La Miya Casa: (December 20, 2011 at 3:20 am)
“Ethanol, Windmills, Hydroelectric and all other sources are pretty good and more that welcome. Fossil Based Fuels (FBF) would remain the Giants for years. You know very well that, it’s not only because of the Quality, but due to the Infrastructures made for this source.”
It is my impression that solar-renewable energy sources can only supply a small fraction of the energy we obtain from earth-bound carbon. Solar-renewable energy is just too diffuse to economically make up for the energy of 85 million barrels of oil and perhaps the 20 million tons of coal that we use daily. Despite a very concerted effort by governments all over the world to subsidize and promote its adoption, renewable energy has never succeeded in displacing carbon power. “Not even close,” as Kirk Sorensen says.
If all nations in the world were persuaded to sign an international treaty outlawing all sources of energy that were not solar-renewable or geo-renewable, then I suspect, in a worst-case scenario, that this would doom the world to an eight-fold global population reduction, because only that reduced population level has been proven supportable by energy from such renewables.
I believe we have already done most the basic research on these renewable energy generation techniques, and I know of no method on the horizon that promises to obtain significantly higher energy collection densities from these sources than in the past. I do not think we should be spending public money trying to force-fit a technology that appears to be an inadequate carbon power replacement.
Note: I am using the term ‘carbon power’ here to refer to all sources of energy from carbon compounds entrained in the Earth’s crust, geochemical (abiotic) or biological.

• Re: Spector :(December 21, 2011 at 5:41 am)
“I do not think we should be spending public money trying to force-fit a technology that appears to be an inadequate carbon power replacement”
This is something same as what Brian said earlier to me.
I am confident about FBF because there are huge, heavy, widely spread-ed, industrialized, market oriented, planned, explored, produced, under production and ready to producing ENERGY resource among all just the NAMES of the resources of energy so far.
When we say solar energy as a source it’s okay, but we know that it is just a name, I call it baby energy, there isn’t any strong background and a convincing future for it.
If someone likes to invest on such a resource ( solar/whatever) how can we stop it. Their investment would not be so much, it’s better than drinking beers. We should let the others who are interested in such cases proceed. And finally if they get any good results, that would be great for all.
There are more people to keep their money in successful examined fields of energy.
Important to say:
How can we prolong the FBF life time? This is a reliable resource too. The reply would be:
new standards for enhancing the Fuel Efficiency Rate of Consumption, (F.E.R.C).

480. La Miya Casa;
Solar and wind have had about 30 yrs of extravagant subsidies to get going. How many carbon-fired generators have they replaced so far? The answer is “approximately zero”. And that’s how it will remain.

• Fortunately we have the same views here. If you may remember, my point was how can we solve air pollution in the cities that reportedly are in deep problem and cancer or other disease is seriously a major issue. We know what is happening now in greater cities. Concentration of GAS (CO2, SO2,…) with high density cannot be neglected. Electric Vehicles can be solution. This would not reduce CO2 neither if CO2 is considered as a value nor it is assumed as unwanted gas.
http://lamyacasa.wordpress.com

• miko says:

i am always amazed at the number of Luddites who oppose solar energy development or think it will fail as a serious energy source. these are the post-modern equivalent of those who thought that the automobile would never replace the horse. a hundred years from now people will look back at conversations like this one and laugh…. [unless of course we have a major war based in fighting over oil…]

• PaulC says:

Solar energy – something like 4 watts per m2 . Not sure how you can do better. ‘O’ yes, I forgot . 60 cents a KWH subsidy by real people trying to earn a real living.

• Miko said:
“i am always amazed at the number of Luddites who oppose solar energy development or think it will fail as a serious energy source. these are the post-modern equivalent of those who thought that the automobile would never replace the horse. a hundred years from now people will look back at conversations like this one and laugh…. [unless of course we have a major war based in fighting over oil…]”
To my opinion, all resources are most welcome. If you see what I said to Brian H, then you would find out my real view. I make it easy for you to have it here:
I said:
“Ethanol, Windmills, Hydroelectric and all other sources are pretty good and more that welcome. Fossil Based Fuels (FBF) would remain the Giants for years. You know very well that, it’s not only because of the Quality, but due to the Infrastructures made for this source. Hydrocarbon sources have been so far, and will be for many years in the future as the main focused effective source. Concentration on one source of energy depends on how the sources can be accessible / sustainable, but there must be variety in the sources of energy too. Time is a key issue here. As long as we have the “variety”, we would have more time to be well prepared for any shift from this main source of FBF, to new (source)s. Meanwhile, using the FBF effectively is an instrument to make more times to find our solutions, all these are “MUST” and “AS IS”. And If for example Eric J.Lerner “LPPhysics” succeeds, much better.”
Now our gains from solar energy is just about 4Watts/ M^2. I like to see the time that every building and all the towers get the energy requirements from their facades by the sun. Now the reality is that no infrastructure for solar energy has been defined so far. I want to speak about just a dream as an example. If we get 4KWH/M^2 from solar resource, do you think the market would follow any other resources? When a single story 100M^2 house can produce 400KWH electricity, and it works same as a CATERPILLAR Generator that is more than enough for this scale building, just guess what would happen. All the refineries would come to a complete stop in one minute. Who cares about Oil & Gas or Coal.
This is impossible for now, but if you can do it, don’t waste your time to convince the people like me, the market would absorb your energy resource immediately. There are people working on this subject with confident. I like all the resources of energy, why should I say “NO”, when there are many “NO”s around it. You have my “YES”.

481. The automakers have made it possible to manufacture EV cars. The car is powered by electricity. So it can be refueled (recharged) at home/parking/wherever you may wish. This post is for the kind attention of Pro/Anti CO2 groups. What are the main results in such a change?
Basically, such a transfer is not possible in a short time and it’s not welcome everywhere. Infrastructural system of ordinary fuel network is one of the key reasons. Here we have some priorities ahead. There are cities around the world that have the worst deadly Air Pollution. Authorities have tried to reduce the pollution by setting up a limit on daily traffic. The outcome hasn’t been recorded as positive. There are other reasons that wouldn’t make it possible, such as wind directions, mountains around a city and local climate condition. To control and or eliminate this pollution, that is one of the most effective causes of CANCERS, EV cars can be good option. In underground railways, locomotives powered by DIESEL ENGINES are strongly prohibited, the required power is electricity from power plants located outside a city. Assuming the electrical/chemical energy consumption are the same for one km travel at a certain speed, the result would be:
1.The required electricity for charging the cars should be produced in power plants by chemical fuels;
2. The required chemical fuels for the cars would be changed from diesel or gasoline to something else for the power plants, and in this change, gasoline would be reduced effectively;
3. Assuming all the fuel stations inside a city are closed by law, the fuel distribution network would become useless;
4. The power transmission lines would remain unchanged;
So, why we should not transfer our systems where it is necessary, to EV?
If you are pro/anti CO2/global warming/climate change, do you agree in such a case:
1. CO2 production remains unchanged (approximately);
2. We hopefully should not have anymore cancers;
http://lamyacasa.wordpress.com
Elektro-Autos1

482. Gee, I know it’s hard to keep track of all those zeroes, but … 4W/m^2 is 1/1000 of 4Kw/m^2.
Duh.

La Miya Casa says:
December 23, 2011 at 8:15 am
Miko said:

Now our gains from solar energy is just about 4Watts/ M^2.

When a single story 100M^2 house can produce 400KWH electricity, and it works same as a CATERPILLAR Generator that is more than enough for this scale building, just guess what would happen.

Aside from your confusion about watts and watt-hours, the actual output of your 100M^2 house is 400 watts. That’s 0.4kW. Enough for a few lightbulbs, or maybe a single home computer. While the sun shines.

• Meko said:
solar energy is just about 4Watts/ M^2…..
Then I said:
“I want to speak about just a dream as an example. If we get 4KWH/M^2 from solar resource, do you think the market would follow any other resources? When a single story 100M^2 house can produce 400KWH electricity, and it works same as a CATERPILLAR Generator that is more than enough for this scale building, just guess what would happen. All the refineries would come to a complete stop in one minute. Who cares about Oil & Gas or Coal.”
Just talking about DREAMS, so I was not confused about “Zeros” at all, when you talk about a dream, there are no limits no DIMENSIONS.

483. As for EVs, they’re great. But their advantage comes from the efficiency of electric motors delivering motive power to the road, which is about 3X that of an internal combustion engine. That advantage is multiplied by the vastly lower delivery cost of energy to the storage medium (gas tank vs battery). So it costs about 1/10 as much per mile to drive an EV.

484. Spector says:

RE: PaulC: (December 23, 2011 at 2:01 am)
“Solar energy – something like 4 watts per m2 . Not sure how you can do better. ‘O’ yes, I forgot . 60 cents a KWH subsidy by real people trying to earn a real living.”
Willis gave me a best-case estimate closer to 20 watts per square meter or 20 Megawatts per square kilometer for the maximum average energy that might be collected by a mid-latitude solar energy collection system, which I assumed to be a twenty-four-seven, average annual level. That assumption may be the difference between the two numbers.
BTW, I just ran across a new Kirk Sorensen video where he explains in great detail why the liquid fluoride thorium reactor was downgraded and cancelled in favor of the then high-priority plutonium fast-neutron breeder reactor project, which was then later abandoned. At the end, he touches on the advantages over solar power and lightly alludes to environmental advantages and carbon dioxide emission reduction if there is an early conversion to thorium nuclear energy.
The Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor: Why Didn’t This Happen
(and why is now the right time?)