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Piqued "Peak Oil" scaremongers

, posted: 16-Nov-2006 12:42

The Peak Oil theory, pushed heavily here by the Greens in particular, was debunked today in a report Why the Peak Oil Theory Falls Down: Myths, Legends, and the Future of Oil Resources produced by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA). They are paticularly concerned about the distortion of public policy that peak oil theory brings. source: Slashdot


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Comment by JAMMAN2110, on 16-Nov-2006 14:34

Slashdot? Seriously?

Author's note by dmw, on 16-Nov-2006 17:35

Yes -- first spotted in Slashdot.

I should add that I've been arguing all along that, once the oil price rises significantly (beyond the level that OPEC can manipulate it down again, just by increasing production), it will become economic to extract oil from the oil shale deposits and other harder-to-reach fields. That will open up vast new supplies.

In the meantime, I'm confident that alternative energy sources will be found. By the way, hydrogen, electricity and compressed air are not alternative automotive energy sources. They are only energy storage media.

One day the Greens will need to acknowledge that wind, solar and tidal generators are inadequate for more than incidental power supply. The base load has to come from hydro, and eventually, nuclear (fission or fusion).

Aside: many Arab states want nuclear power stations to run desalination plants!

Comment by codesuidae, on 17-Nov-2006 04:09

The Congressional Peak Oil Caucus has responded to the CERA study:

From the article:

Congressman Udall said, "CERA's report is one of the most optimistic predictions for the peak in global oil production to date, and it still underscores the need to address this problem immediately. Whether it is Peak Oil, global warming, or the fact that some of the money we send overseas to support our oil addiction comes back to us in the form of terrorism, the U.S. cannot wait any longer to develop sensible and sustainable alternatives to oil."

Even if the CERA study is correct 25 years is a criticaly short time to make the kinds of corrections that are necessary to avoid major economic impacts from the shift away from oil.

Comment by Big Gav, on 19-Nov-2006 00:52

Errr - Slashdot posts a report by a consultancy that works for the oil industry and you think that "proves" something ?

Maybe for your next trick you can prove that global warming doesn't exist by pointing to some Exxon funded paper at Junk Science ?

I'm sure that will convince everyone...

Some peak oil pundits make some rather wild predictions about the result of peak oil but that shouldn't reflect on the geological inevitability of peak oil itself. Even the CERA report basically says "peak in 2030" rather than the "peak in 2015" or thereabouts that most peak oil modellers come up with.

As for vast rivers of oil coming from shale, you should do some research on the various processes companies use (or propose to use) to extract the stuff from what are basically dirty rocks.

None of them scale and billions of dollars have already been wasted on the search for "snake oil" as I call it.

Author's note by dmw, on 19-Nov-2006 14:46

Thanks for the web references. They were very interesting concerning the processes required to extract oil from shale. And I agree with the conclusion that the priority should be on more fuel-efficient vehicles in the US.

But that doesn't alter the economics -- while it is uneconomic today, if the oil price increased 5 or 10 fold, as it will eventually, then the extraction will become economically feasible.

Where is your evidence that CERA is an organisation that is "compromised" by its funding sources?

In exchange, here is a speech I suggest you read The Economics and Politics of Climate Change - An Appeal to Reason.

Comment by Randy Park, on 19-Nov-2006 17:26

New techniques for extracting oil from unconventional sources have to be economical on an energy return basis, not just on an economic basis. It takes the equivalent of 1 to 2 barrels of oil to extract 3 barrels of oil from Alberta's tar sands (versus 1 barrel in for 20 barrels out in conventional oil.)

As far as shale oil, it is unclear whether anyone will ever get more energy out of the shale than is required to extract the oil.

Finally, do you think western society, could continue business as usual if the "oil price increased 5 or 10 fold"?

There are those who say don't worry, see:

Comment by Dave M, on 19-Nov-2006 22:22

If the price of oil increases by 5 to 10 fold, I would guess that you'll also have massive economic upheaval to deal with at the same time that you're trying to develop alternative sources of fuel. Just think about what it means for the U.S. economy if gas were to cost $15-30 a gallon. It would result in massive numbers of people who can't afford to get to work. A tremendous number of farmers who are already living on the edge would go bankrupt. Food supply in general will be jeopardized because it requires a large amount of fossil-fuel inputs. Cross-country trucking will become largely a thing of the past. The ripple effect of expensive oil has the potential to produce an economic crisis, which in turn could make it that much more difficult to develop alternatives at the same time.

Comment by Wolfeman, on 22-Nov-2006 03:49

"Where is your evidence that CERA is an organisation that is "compromised" by its funding sources? "

Here is a source that explains why they would compromise data.

Does The Oil Drum threaten CERA's market share?

As for the validity of Oil Shale as a viable fossil resource, I do not believe anyone is disputing that it can be extracted for $60 a barrel.

But that has nothing to do with the problem we face.

Peak Oil represents "Peak Energy". What we are about to peak on is easy cheap dense energy production.

Lower grade fossil resources and renewable energy sources can be developed, and even "expanded" and "grown" in the future, but the additional energy required to recover and process these new energy sources means that net energy production still falls.

There is no other energy resource that is capable of providing the vast quantities of highly dense, easily transportable, cheap to produce energy with the highest net energy return ever achieved. The only possible winner in this arena would be nuclear fusion, which is 30 years away at least.

We can use other energy resources, there is no dispute there. Can we net energy production gains to allow growth after the conventional peak? Not likely.

Still confused on the issue? check these links out:

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David White
New Zealand

Goon fan, .NET developer, contrarian seeker of truth