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View Diary: Peak oil and peak silliness (111 comments)

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  •  Here's the problem (15+ / 0-)

    All of the portrayals of peak oil (including the term) imply that there's one top and then a decline.  The trend is much more complex.

    We're in a countertrend started by several factors: (a) the willingness of developed nations to externalize the costs of oil production onto their own citizens, rather then exporting them to developing countries (see: Pipeline, Keystone XL); (b) high prices that tend to shake loose marginal capacity.  Some of that potential "marginal" capacity is rather large (deep water Gulf, under-the-ice oil made accessible by global warming -- we definitely are at peak irony, and alas shale oil and tar sands), (c) conservation measures and alternative energy decisions driven by prices.

    So when you hit a peak, there is a tendency for more capacity to come about.  But the trend becomes more and more marginal.  The tar sands in Alberta will have a comparatively small long term impact on supply, although there's enough to definitely soften the spot market.

    And since the media and VSPs don't do complex analysis very well, every time the supply situation improves or significant new capacity is found, they go back to "no problem here, move along" mode.

    •  The back and forth is only going to last so long (16+ / 0-)

      Eventually all the tricks are going to run out and oil supplies will start down their terminal depletion curve. It's happening slower than I expected as well, but then again, it's hard to predict with the feedback systems in place.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 10:32:50 AM PDT

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    •  Not quite (18+ / 0-)

      The trend is not complicated. The oil coming to market today has much higher production costs, much lower energy return on investment, and much larger carbon footprint than that produced was several decades ago. As Hubbert predicted, the age of cheap oil is over. Period.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 10:37:47 AM PDT

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      •  The point is... (6+ / 0-)

        ...that there is a lot of noise around the trend (and a tendency to not take a long series of data; remember $10/bbl oil and $1/gal gas from the Clinton era?  That ain't coming back.)

        This makes it possible to put up short term arguments (that crappy shale oil and tar sands oil is being paid for by socializing the safety and environmental costs, which are quite quantifiable, so it looks cheaper than it is; because these things are now economical and the proved reserve numbers have lots of zeros in them, nobody thinks about how much effect it's really going to have on global supply.)

        •  How Resource Limits Lead to Financial Collapse (7+ / 0-)

          How Resource Limits Lead to Financial Collapse

          Resource limits are invisible, so most people don’t realize that we could possibility be approaching them. In fact, my analysis indicates resource limits are really financial limits, and in fact, we seem to be approaching those limits right now.
          The financial collapse is related to Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) that is already too low. I don’t see any particular EROEI target as being a threshold–the calculations for individual energy sources are not on a system-wide basis, so are not always helpful. The issue is not precisely low EROEI. Instead, the issue is the loss of  cheap fossil fuel energy to subsidize the rest of society.
          When a company decides to extract a resource such as oil, gold, or fresh water, it looks for the least expensive source available. After many years of extraction, the least expensive sources become depleted, and the company must move on to more expensive resources. It always looks like there are plenty of resources left; they are just increasingly expensive to extract. Eventually an extraction limit is reached; this limit is a price limit.
          Part of the confusion is that many people completely miss the fact that there is a close connection between cheap energy supply of the exact type needed (for example, gasoline for cars, diesel for trucks, electricity for many factory applications) and the ability of the world economy to make goods and services.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 12:22:18 PM PDT

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    •  And then there is the oil shale (not shale oil)... (7+ / 0-)

      ...of the Green River formation, which is even worse than the tar sands for dirty and water consumption and environmental destruction (of the non-climate change type).

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 11:57:47 AM PDT

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      •  But... (8+ / 0-)

        ....if you can make someone else incur the environmental costs against their will, it looks much cheaper.

      •  Besides... (4+ / 0-)

        ...what that shale holds isn't even oil, it's kerogen. We're a long ways away from that being thermodynamically feasible as an economic product.  So the Green River formation hydrocarbons are classified as resources, not reserves.

        •  Four booms and busts in oil shale since the ... (4+ / 0-)

          ...1890s and not a drop of commercial oil shale being produced now. I got to witness the 1980s boom-and-bust up close. Cities bonded themselves for new infrastructure from sewers to schools because Exxon told them in 1980 that by 2000, there would be 2 million additional workers in western Colorado and eastern Utah making oil from that kerogen, 8 million barrels a day of the stuff. Those towns would have gone bankrupt if they state hadn't paid off their bond debt.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 06:08:02 PM PDT

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        •  It is a lot more feasible than you think. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bigjacbigjacbigjac, yuriwho, chira2

          Shale oil was the original source of oil in Lothian, Scotland in the 1830s. The oil industry we recognize came with the invention of seamless steel pipe around 1900 when the first oil tankers were built and oil wasn't stored in wooden barrels. It is a very simple technlogy and very practical.
          The problem is our world addiction to oil guzzles about 1 cubic mile of oil per year.
          Oil shale kerogen must be cooked, release lots of CO2 and a ton of oil shale produces about 1/4 barrel of oil, so you'd have to dig up a huge amount of material. That's a lot more money and energy to just pump it out of the ground.

          It is better to just get off oil alltogether.

      •  The Reason Its Not The "Green River OIL FIELD" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bigjacbigjacbigjac, chira2

        because it's not "oil."

        There are some sweet spots where the petroleum content is pretty high, but it has to be strip mined and after the oil is extracted the toxic rubble is not reduced in volume.  There would literally be mountains of shit to dispose of.

        There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

        by bernardpliers on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 08:03:41 PM PDT

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    •  I always read "new technology" is making (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GayHillbilly, bigjacbigjacbigjac

      new fossil fuel resources available.

      If you replace "new technology" with "higher crude prices" you get a better picture of what is happening.

      And the "Green River Formation"? That's Kerogen not fuel. Submerge it below a continental plate for a few hundred million years at high temperature, sequester it in oil bearing rock, have everything go just right, and the next species to inherit the Earth might just have another big oil reservoir.

      Or you you could listen to Sarah Palin et. al. Anybody else seen the video of her wafting the Harley fumes into her face saying "Hmmmm! Smell the emissions."?

      Reaganomics noun pl: belief that government is bad, that it can increase revenue by decreasing revenue, and unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources.

      by FrY10cK on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 06:49:12 PM PDT

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