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Aviation fuels and peak oil (thesis) - Resilience
Our Finite World. Skip to content. Posted on July 16, by Gail Tverberg. Chapter 1: What Is Peak Oil? What is peak oil? A graph of oil discoveries by ten year periods is as shown below: We often read in the news about finding new fields, but these fields tend to be smaller and harder to reach than those discovered in the past. What does world oil production look like? Can OPEC raise its production of petroleum? When was peak oil first predicted?
At this point, it seems unlikely that they will make up the shortfall. Like this: Like Loading I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system.
I try to look at the overall problem. This entry was posted in Introductory Post , Oil and Its Future and tagged corn ethanol , ethanol , oil , peak oil. Bookmark the permalink. Denis Pitcher says:. August 3, at am. Andrew says:. November 18, at pm. Your article seems to be missing the most important point… Peak Oil is a Myth. August 5, at pm. Jonah says:. December 31, at am. John Keen says:. May 29, at am. July 4, at pm.
Freddie Vincent says:. August 23, at am. If we are causing eco damage as in the Gulf maybe we need to stop drilling now.
Search for:. Based on a work at ourfiniteworld. Contact If you would like to contact me, please send me an e-mail at GailTverberg at comcast dot net. Not surprisingly, this constrained supply brought on high prices. This fact, however, was obscured by the fawning media coverage of increasing supplies of shale oil in the United States properly called tight oil which did little to stem the price rise. Free cash flow is operating cash flow minus capital expenditures. Without this capital the drillers would not have been able to continue growing their production since their operating cash flow from existing wells came nowhere near the amount needed to grow production.
Today, we know that Berman was right. This fact became more apparent when oil prices declined in and kept going down. Several drillers went bust. But even as much of the industry remains on life support, those companies currently drilling in the Permian Basin in Texas are involved in yet another bizzare free-cash-flow-negative boom.
The extra oil came mostly from the tar sands in Canada and the tight oil fields of the United States. Oil production rose smartly in both countries as long as prices stayed aloft. Output in both countries has now rebounded with U. Almost all production growth is coming from the Permian Basin in Texas where a drilling frenzy fueled by the flood of new capital mentioned above continues.
A second criticism is that it fails to recognize so-called unconventional oil resources such as tar sands, tight oil, heavy oil and arctic oil. But neither he nor other thinkers believed that unconventional oil resources could do anything more than soften the rate of decline in worldwide production. The reason was that such resources would be expensive and difficult to extract and would therefore not enter the market quickly enough to overcome the decline of conventional oil production.
Essentially, Wall Street has been subsidizing the consumption of oil on Main Street. That this is unsustainable is obvious. Eventually, investors will realize that there is no long-term value in tight oil. Why investors have been cautious about additional investment in the Canadian tar sands, but not American tight oil is a truly puzzling question.
They see the argument that depletion will take care of the carbon emissions problem as a threat, because it could lead to apathy. They argue that there are enough fossil fuels left on the planet to trigger a climatic doomsday; and, to underscore the argument, Climate Change often quote robust estimates of remaining oil reserves and amounts awaiting discovery issued by agencies such as the United States Energy Information Administration EIA , and by companies like ExxonMobil and Cambridge Energy Research Associates CERA —most of whose forecasts seem unrealistically optimistic compared to the majority of expert forecasts.
Climate protectors understandably feel fully justified in doing this, because these, after all, are official estimates and forecasts. Peak Oil activists adhere to more pessimistic resource estimates and production forecasts, and it is tempting to think that this is partly because doing so makes their case appear stronger. However, the track record of prediction by the optimists is not good:.
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This pattern of unrealistic optimism on the part of the official forecasting agencies continues with regard to other countries, and thus probably, by extrapolation, to the world as a whole. So it might be unrealistic for the climate protectors to give credence to such forecasts, official though they may be, or even to assume that the truth lies somewhere equidistant between the extreme resource estimates of the so-called optimists and pessimists. Parenthetically, both groups have reasons though different ones to regard ExxonMobil as an arch-foe.
That company has consistently funded groups undermining public concern about Climate Change. And recently ExxonMobil has placed prominent magazine ads proclaiming that the global oil production peak is so far in the future that it is something we need not worry about. For Climate Change analysts and activists, emissions are the essence of the problem, and so anything that will reduce emissions is viewed as a solution.
Has 'peak oil' gone the way of the Flat Earth Society?
If societies shift from using a high-carbon fossil fuel coal to a fossil fuel with lower carbon content natural gas , this an obvious benefit in terms of climate risk—and it is potentially an easy sell to politicians and the general public, because it merely requires a change of fuel, not a sacrifice of convenience or comfort on the part of the general public. And so, again, climate analysts tend to accept at face value official high reserves estimates and production forecasts—in this case, for natural gas.
However, as with oil, production forecasts by the official agencies for natural gas supply have tended to be overly robust. For example, in the U. Nevertheless a few industry insiders had noted disturbing signs: companies were drilling at an accelerating pace in order to maintain production rates, and newer fields which tended to be smaller were depleting ever more quickly. By the U. Energy Secretary was proclaiming a natural gas crisis. In the following three years, warm weather perhaps due to Climate Change and demand destruction from the off-shoring of many industrial users of natural gas due to high domestic prices led to a partial relaxing of prices and general complacency.
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For depletion analysts and activists, societal dependence on vanishing, non-renewable energy resources is the essence of the greatest dilemma that our society currently faces. We have created a complex, global economic infrastructure built to run on fuels that will start to become scarce and expensive very soon. From this perspective, natural gas is not a solution but an enormous problem: even if the global peak in gas production is 10 to 20 years away, regional shortages are already appearing and will continue to intensify.
This means enormous risks for home heating, for the chemicals and plastics industries, and for electrical power generation. Natural gas is and will always be a fuel that is, for the most part, regionally traded as opposed to liquid fuels, which are more easily shipped. Thus for many nations critical to the world economy—the U. Coal presents another controversial topic for both depletion and emissions analysts. Most members of both groups feel a keen need to articulate some politically palatable transition strategy so as to gain the ears of policy makers. If coal were entirely ruled out of the discussion, such a strategy would become more difficult to cobble together.
However, the two groups tend to think of very different future roles for coal. Using a time-proven process, it is possible to gasify coal and then use the resulting gases to synthesize a high-quality diesel fuel.
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The South African company Sasol, which has updated the process, is currently under contract to provide several new coal-to-liquids CTL plants to China and has announced a plant in Montana. CTL is not attractive to emissions analysts, however. While some carbon could be captured during the gasification stage at a modest energy cost , burning the final liquid fuel would release as much carbon into the atmosphere as would burning conventional petroleum diesel.
A few depletion analysts tend to take a skeptical view of future coal supplies. However, factoring in dramatic increases in usage to substitute for declining oil and gas supplies , while also taking account of the Hubbert peak phenomenon and the fact that coal resources are of varying quality and accessibility, leads to the surprising conclusion that a global peak in coal production could come in as few as 30 years this conclusion can be extrapolated from a recent study for the DOE regarding the US coal supply.
Would the world then have the capital to engage in another strenuous and costly energy transition? And what would be the next energy source? Other low-grade fossil fuels, such as tar sands, oil shale, and heavy oil are also problematic from both the depletion and emissions perspectives.
Some depletion analysts recommend full-speed development of these resources. However, the energetic extraction costs for these are usually quite high compared to the energy payoff from the resource extracted also known as the energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI. Their already-low energy profit ratio would be compromised still further by efforts to capture and sequester carbon, since, as with coal, these low-grade fuels have a high carbon content as compared to natural gas or conventional oil.