Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry’s upstream investments have registered an astronomical increase, but these ever higher levels of capital expenditure have yielded ever smaller increases in the global oil supply. Even these have only been made possible by record high oil prices. This should be a reality check for those now hyping a new age of global oil abundance

Reality sucks! Facts make it even worse….

The fossil fuel industry cheerleaders glide right past those sobering truths about the companies’ sizeable investments yielding … not so much. What’s the thought process for barreling ahead and ignoring these fairly crucial considerations about both investments and supply?

Those of us who urge greater awareness about the challenges and realities of our fossil fuel-driven energy future would be thrilled if the facts we deal with were wrong and the cherry-picked or outright misleading Happy Talks offered up by the fossil fuel industry’s cheerleading squad were genuine indicators of that future.

They’re not, and it is information such as that offered above which tells us that the reality all of us will be dealing with in the years to come is a different one from that which industry shills continue to offer. That’s the one we’ll actually have to contend with.

Planning for that would be an ideal step to take right about now. If we could go back in time, it would be an even better idea about a decade ago … give or take.

But why get bogged down with unpleasant truths inflicting harm on today’s bottom line when you can spin a yarn that leaves everyone feeling better but every bit as uninformed as they were before your latest media foray, Right? Profits no matter what the cost to others appears to be the guiding light.

One of the more frequently-used rationales to glide past any concerns about peak oil is that with fuel efficiency on the rise and technological improvements in the “fracking” methods used to extract the more expensive tight oil from the shale formations here in the U.S., we really don’t need to worry. Besides, we have vast, massive abundant reserves. (Who cares if actually extracting them is an entirely different matter? The numbers are impressive! Shouldn’t that be enough?)

And if that’s not enough, then the argument pivots to the demand-is-on-the-decline talking point (except that it’s not, but why quibble), so what’s the worry?

For starters, there’s this [reflecting a 2012 decrease in U.S. oil consumption]:

Apart from improved gasoline mileage, the vast majority of the savings seem to come from (1) continued shrinkage of US industrial activity, (2) a reduction in vehicle miles traveled, and (3) recessionary influences (likely related to high oil prices) on businesses, leading to job layoffs and less fuel use.
Gail Tverberg, author of the above quote, was exactly overcome with delight by her assessment. Shrinking industrial activity isn’t exactly a good thing. Likewise, “recessionary influences” and “job layoffs” aren’t causes for celebration either.

Optimist that I am, what happens when industrial activity picks up, recessionary influences moderate, and employment rates notch back up … while conventional crude oil production continues to flat-line and tight oil wells continue their rapid decline requiring even more high-priced drilling for inferior quality supply—assuming the companies are still willing to invest more for less?

Perhaps those with the power to lead and influence change might consider a meeting or two to consider some new plans?

No change in this assessment: Blind Faith is still and always a better rock band than energy policy.

(Adapted from two recent blog posts of mine: 1.  2.)

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