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Thread: Peak Oil - Fact, Fiction or What?

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    Politics.ie Member Mister_Jinks's Avatar
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    Default Peak Oil - Fact, Fiction or What?

    First of all, let me wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's day! This is my first thread on p.ie so please be kind Now, on to the topic of peak oil. This issue is more particularly relevant these days as the prices at the pumps climb higher and higher. If anyone reading is not fully sure what it meant by the term peak oil please see Peak oil - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I have searched the forums for “peak oil” and I'm not sure if there has yet been a thread dedicated to this issue yet. I may be wrong.

    Anyhow, it is true that the current unrest in the middle east has put upwardly pressure on oil prices as, after all, more than half of the estimated remaining reserves are in the Middle East. The following graph shows the price trend of a barrel of crude for the period 2000 to 2010.

    Crude oil price chart, 2000-2010

    As this graph demonstrates (assuming that it is accurate) the price has climbed consistently over the last decade with a huge peak in 2008. Anyway, the general trend is upwards and will presumably continue in this fashion into the future.

    To me, it seems that a peak in oil production followed by a gradual decline in global production is a mathematical certainty. So, this leads to when and a what - when is this likely to happen and what are the consequences of this event?

    On the when question, may it have already happen and perhaps production is on a plateau? Are we in the post peak phase? This might explain the consistent increase in crude oil prices in the last decade? However, increasing global demand due to the industrialisation of countries such as China and India could could also explain the increasing price of crude. Or general price inflation maybe? Or pure speculation on the oil markets? I just don't know. However, if there is so much of it remaining, then why can't more be extracted from the known remaining reserves so that increasing supply meets increasing demand and the price remains fairly consistent taking inflation into account.

    Now, on to the what question, if global oil production has peaked or does peak in the next decade then what are the implications for the world economy and our technology based lifestyles? This is a major issue for developed countries such as Ireland that have a huge dependency on crude oil. The following wiki explains shows the essential role that crude oil plays in the modern world.

    Petroleum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Here at home, we have a allowed a very car dependent culture to develop due to bad planning decisions – residential development far from major centers of employment (the Dublin commuter belt for example), one-off housing in rural areas and relatively poor public transportation. All our petroleum is imported. And it doesn't stop at transportation - plastics, pesticides, fertilisers,solvents,pharmaceuticals etc. etc. are all derived from crude oil.

    Anyway, I'm just interested in hearing folks' thoughts on this topic. Will it happen soon or has it happened already? And what are the implications of this when and if it does? Thanks for reading.

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    Well all the low hanging fruit has been picked regarding oil and gas. As prices increase it will become more cost effective to extract oil from more awkward places. (But I don't know if the rising market prices are true refection of supply & demand at the moment, with the speculation in the market and all the quantitive easing that's been going on in the last few years) And it's not known what is there, just that exploration will become more viable as the rewards for extraction increase.
    The melting of the Arctic ice cap will have an effect also, and previously unaccessible areas become easier to exploit. THere's already a Scramble for the Arctic by the circumpolar countries, similar to the 19th C scramble for Africa among the imperial powers.
    So those factors will certainly influence peak oil, but how it'll play out I'll wait to see.

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    Default Since you asked....

    The International Energy Agency presents three different scenarios in its World Energy Outlook 2010.



    These are for oil demand, the IEA's model assumes that there is sufficient oil in OPEC countries to increase output well beyond current levels, from 33 mb/d in 2009 in the current policies scenario to a stonking 54 mb/d in 2035. This is fairly impossible, particularly given the turmoil in certain OPEC countries at the moment which will affect investment.

    While you will find more pessimistic scnearios, I'd say the world will be forced to follow something resembling the 450 scenario path. Here are the dynamic changes the IEA sees in the New Policies Scenario:



    You will note the 20 mb/d difference between the New Policies Scenario and the 450 Scenario. Heavy trucks can improve their efficiency by up to 20%, and new container ships are 50% more efficient, but they, more or less, have to use oil. You'll get a few mb/d savings from this. This still leaves 15 mb/d, so there will have to be radical changes in car transport, which currently consumes some 22 mb/d. Increased ICE efficiency, smaller cars, hybrids, bicycles, reduced mileage, telecommuting, electric vehicles, are all on the menu.

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    Politics.ie Member Mister_Jinks's Avatar
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    Yes. It is certainly true that it is becoming more economically viable to extract oil from the more difficult reserves. This will delay peak oil somewhat. However, the discovery rate of of new resources has been in decline for the last 50 years -

    http://www.philhart.com/images/peak_..._Discovery.png

    Interestingly, oil consumption has dropped in Ireland in recent years. This is a direct result of the recession presumably. Less economic activity inevitably leads to a drop in demand.

    Ireland Oil - consumption - Economy

    Could the global economic crisis be delaying the arrival of the peak also? I would tend to think that this is possible.

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    Politics.ie Member The Field Marshal's Avatar
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    "Peak oil" is a myth perpetrated by environmental lobby groups mainly in the pay of governments.
    Certain private vested interests also promote this lie.
    Governments are acting on the basis of future increased taxation and the private interests are motivated by increased profits.

    There is more than enough oil in the earth to meet all future global demands.

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    Politics.ie Member Mister_Jinks's Avatar
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    Thanks Shyster and Cimon9999. Very interesting posts.

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    Politics.ie Member Thac0man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shyster View Post
    Well all the low hanging fruit has been picked regarding oil and gas. As prices increase it will become more cost effective to extract oil from more awkward places. (But I don't know if the rising market prices are true refection of supply & demand at the moment, with the speculation in the market and all the quantitive easing that's been going on in the last few years) And it's not known what is there, just that exploration will become more viable as the rewards for extraction increase.
    The melting of the Arctic ice cap will have an effect also, and previously unaccessible areas become easier to exploit. THere's already a Scramble for the Arctic by the circumpolar countries, similar to the 19th C scramble for Africa among the imperial powers.
    So those factors will certainly influence peak oil, but how it'll play out I'll wait to see.
    Excellent round up. I have a relation who works as an engineer on rigs and oil fields for a BP sub-contactor. He said peak oil is nonsense. New deep drilling techniques mean many previously exhausted fields now have about twice their original and used capacity. He also told be a consortium bought an exhausted well from BP in the North Sea for Stg £50 Million, but now BP want to to but back at a serious multiple of that.

    The fact that the term peak oil has become so flexiable in terms of meaning, demonstrates how hollow the argument is now. Those arguing for it have taken to a nomadic form of defence, rather than admit their origional premis and meaing of the term has been defeated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister_Jinks View Post
    Thanks Shyster and Cimon9999. Very interesting posts.
    You should check out the 'bumpy plateau theory' of peak oil as well, it is very interesting reading as regards peak oil and the world economy.

    BTW ignore people like The Field Marshal who seem to think we live with unlimited resources. You can debate how and what effect stuff like this will cause but it's crazy to think everything lasts forever be it oil or any other finite resource.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thac0man View Post
    Excellent round up. I have a relation who works as an engineer on rigs and oil fields for a BP sub-contactor. He said peak oil is nonsense. New deep drilling techniques mean many previously exhausted fields now have about twice their original and used capacity. He also told be a consortium bought an exhausted well from BP in the North Sea for Stg £50 Million, but now BP want to to but back at a serious multiple of that.

    The fact that the term peak oil has become so flexiable in terms of meaning, demonstrates how hollow the argument is now. Those arguing for it have taken to a nomadic form of defence, rather than admit their origional premis and meaing of the term has been defeated.
    Well it is a finite resource, it's just a question of when we'll reach the end.

    I'd be happier to see a concerted effort to improve renewables to the point where they can reasonably supply domestic usage say, with fossil fuels as back up rather than the other way around. It's not ideal to be so dependent on someone elses' asset, in high demand leading to increasing costs. Nor am I thrilled about climate change. For security, geopolitical and environmental reasons I'd like to see much more emphasis on renewable R&D. But for the above reasons we don't have to switch tomorrow, so we can use these next few years wisely and position ourselves well.

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    Politics.ie Member The Field Marshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by niall78 View Post
    You should check out the 'bumpy plateau theory' of peak oil as well, it is very interesting reading as regards peak oil and the world economy.

    BTW ignore people like The Field Marshal who seem to think we live with unlimited resources. You can debate how and what effect stuff like this will cause but it's crazy to think everything lasts forever be it oil or any other finite resource.
    BTW ignore people like niall78.who is unable to read english properly.

    The Field Marshal never stated that resources were limitless or that stuff would last forever.

    Lying and propagandist posters like niall78 continually distort what others say to promote their fraudulent & criminal vision designed to curb and cull human progress.

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