This week in peak oil:
- Tom Whipple's peak oil weekly review.
- Another market analyst understands China's impact on peak oil
- Peak oil remains a distant idea in China
- Matthew Simmonds addresses business leaders in the UAE
- Oil hits record of $101 per barrel.
- Turkey offers oil deal to India ... peak oil looms ever closer.
- A peak oil denier attempts the abiotic oil argument.
- Our peak oil salvation may just be around the corner in Albania!
- The influential Deutsche Bank weighs in on peak oil
- An oil company and President Bush now recognize peak ... at least a little.
- How composting will be a part of a post peak oil solution
- Tom Whipple speculates about what a post peak oil world might look like.
- A peak oil optimist attempts to refute criticism then gets slayed in his comments.
- ESPN attempts peak oil humor. I suggest they stick to sports.
Tom Whipple reviews the big news for peak oil in his Peak Oil Review at the Energy Bulletin:
- Gasoline and Diesel Prices
- Prudhoe Bay
- Energy Briefs
(The Energy Bulletin)
Market analyst Edward Tapamor recognizes that the Chinese demand for oil is skyrocketing and bringing peak oil ever closer.
The market has spoken. For once the machinations of the market are being based not on herd mentality, software, technicals or the whims of the mass media. Instead the worrying thing is the moves to $100 oil are based on reality, demand. Chinese demand.
It has not mattered a jot to China as oil has risen in price. Some people might want to buy a house because they think they may make money, other people buy a house because they love someone and they want to live in the city without renting. China is the latter. China is not interested in a few billion dollars this way or that every month, it wants to live in the city called 21st century prosperity and it is going to do everything in its power to stay there. And it ain't gonna rent.
If Chinese demand were going to slacken off it would have happened by now. But nothing of the sort is going on. Although, as we have said before here, the figures that come out of Beijing can be slightly odd, it appears Chinese demand is rising somewhere around 10 per cent per year at the moment.
The subsidies that people like Rex Tillerson of ExxonMobil hate so much are really nothing but an oily straw man. He claims the subsidies of the Chinese authorities are distorting the market, but in fact that may well be the opposite. Every time the price dips all this does is allow China to consume even more.
When the price of crude fell, after its first foray into $100 territory, it reached around $86 per barrel. Far higher than this column predicted, when we were talking about it falling to the high sixty dollar range. There it stuck for a while as the market started sending more and more crude over the seas...to China.
Peak oil remains a "distant" idea in China, industry sources say. Many Beijing policymakers still subscribe to the traditional view that oil reserves are plentiful, and that the main difficulty is resource access -- a geopolitical rather than a geological problem. So, aside from token shifts in the country's energy mix toward more environmentally friendly fuels, the Chinese leadership is prioritizing security of oil supply over curbing oil demand. Many officials point to technological advances and the emergence of heavy oil and oil sands as proof that global reserves are growing. In the current five-year economic plan, the government is only targeting a reduction of oil consumption's share of the overall energy mix from 21% in 2005 to 20.5% in 2010 -- actual oil demand is expected to grow by 4%-6% per annum during that period. High oil prices are a more pressing concern, however, and Beijing has underwritten a multibillion-dollar spending spree by state oil firms since 2002 to secure equity oil overseas. The government is also eagerly looking at fuel substitution and has experimented with biofuels, gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids. China's crude imports last year averaged 3.28 million barrels per day, representing 44% of total apparent oil demand of 7.36 million b/d. This proportion is set to rise, moreover, as increases in demand outpace growth in domestic production.
But peak oil theory has gained ground in China in recent years, Chinese academics argue, simply because the debate in the West has become more intense. With historic workhorse fields like Daqing now in decline, the government is well aware that crude reserves will inevitably be depleted, which is one of the reasons for its push toward renewable energy, according to Pang Xiongqi, a professor at the China University of Petroleum in Beijing and founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas China. Various academic studies have predicted that China's own oil production will peak at some point between 2015 and 2037, at levels ranging from 3.21 million b/d to 4.74 million b/d -- the Ministry of Land and Resources is forecasting a peak of 4.4 million b/d after 2020. Proven reserves at the end of 2005 -- the latest data available -- were 34.8 billion barrels of crude and 88 trillion cubic feet of gas, but these figures are expected to rise significantly as previously challenging areas in the Tarim, Junggar and Ordos basins are explored using new technology.
This is amazing. Why would they want to hear the bad news?
Matthew Simmons, a prominent expert on the issue of peak oil and the author of the controversial book 'Twilight in the Desert: the Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy', is in Dubai this week to host a luncheon with the UAE's business leaders from the oil and gas, banking and investment industries.
Simmons is the Chairman and founder of Simmons & Company International (SCI), one of the largest investment banking practices serving the energy industry. He is a strong proponent of the dangers of peak oil and believes the peak oil issue is poorly understood and the world's data on production, demand and inventories is alarmingly inaccurate.
"Peak oil is probably now past tense and the world is desperately in need of a sustainable series of new energy sources and urgent adoption of conservation measures to wean 'us' all from a chronic addiction not just to oil, but all three forms of fossil fuels," said Matthew Simmons.
(Business Intelligence Middle East)
News came this week that oil hit a record level.
Tokyo rubber futures bounced back on Wednesday, rising 2 percent on buying momentum after U.S. crude oil prices jumped to a new record high above $101 a barrel the previous day.
The benchmark Tokyo Commodity Exchange rubber contract for August delivery <0#JRU:> climbed 6.4 yen to 318.6 yen a kg as of 0135 GMT and reached a high of 318.7 yen.
The price of oil, which helps dictate rubber's direction, surged as a spate of weak U.S. economic data drove the dollar to record lows against the euro, sparking a broad-based commodities rally.
Rubber prices often benefit from high crude oil because investors expect expensive oil to encourage a shift to natural rubber from synthetic rubber, a petroleum product.
Just in time some news which will only help quicken the peak oil point of no return, Turkey is offering India the oil it needs to feed its ever-increasing addiction. Did anyone notice that Turkey attacked Kurds in Iraq and that the Kurds have threatened to destroy the pipeline that would supply India if this deal goes through?
The Turkish offer holds out the promise of a well-established route by which energy-hungry India could access Central Asian reserves, in contrast to less-practical alternatives. P /> India imports about 70% of its oil requirements, a dependence that may increase to over 91% by 2020. About 45% of present needs comes from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - according to Indian Planning Commission figures, and if one includes oil imports from other parts of the Middle East, the region accounts for about 67% of India's oil imports.
India, anxious to reduce this dependence on the Middle East for its fuel, given the political volatility of the region, is looking to Myanmar and Vietnam in its more immediate neighborhood, Sudan and Nigeria in Africa, and Turkmenistan in Central Asia to secure oil and also gas supplies.
The success of those efforts have been mixed.
Minneapolis native, Jon Friese, demonstrates that the Estimated Return On Investment for natural gas is declining as it gets more and more expensive to extract. There is no data for the US, but Friese analyzes Canada's with the idea in mind that the US's situation is similar if not exactly the same. For those who think we can just transition to natural gas after we hit peak oil, Friese shows you've got another surprise coming.
Creating an Energy Transition Plan away from natural gas requires at least a rough forecast of future production. Two very different forecasts for North American natural gas exist. The official "consensus" view published by Natural Resources Canada [NRC 2006] argues that 2,200 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) remain and that less than 50% of the total natural gas has been produced. Jean Laherrere has posted a forecast which shows only 600 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) remaining with about 70% already produced of the total supply of 1900 Tcf.
Energy Return on energy Invested (EROI) was explored as a method for choosing between the two forecasts. Examining a historical study of Louisiana natural gas production shows that EROI declined rapidly post peak production and that peak production occurred at about 70% of URR.
The EROI of Canadian natural gas production was found to be falling quickly. If current drilling rates are maintained, Canada could see energy break even occur as soon as 2014.
The EROI analysis was extended to the US by comparing data on Yield-per-foot drilled and Yield-per-well drilled between the two countries. It was found that the US is rapidly approaching the same low EROI as Canada.
Taken together this evidence supports Laherrere's position that North America is past peak production and that as little as 30% of our natural gas endowment remains to be produced.
(The Oil Drum)
Joe Vialls attempts to deny peak oil. His main tactic seems to be that if he writes an incredibly long post, what he has to say must be legitimate and that he will have therefore have discounted peak oil. His arguments are weak and I'll skip most the insults which he thinks only strengthen his arguments:
While it is true that nowadays we only officially find one barrel of oil for every four barrels we consume, this is primarily because we temporarily stopped the incredibly expensive process of looking for crude oil when we had already physically established more than two trillion barrels of reserves in known reservoir locations around the world. When those known reserves drop to [say] one trillion barrels we may be tempted to go and find more, but not until then. And while it is true that the production rate from each individual oil well ever drilled has slowly declined over the years, there is a perfectly valid technical reason for this predictable reduced flow rate, which will be explained later.
(Russia Proves 'Peak Oil' is a Misleading Zionist Scam)
He then goes on to explain how there are vasts underground oil fields and how oil just seeps upwards from from deep within the earth. He events cites proof:
The theory underlying how oil is formed at such enormous depths in the mantle of the earth is not central to this report, because the Russians have already proved its point of origin in absolute drilling terms more than 300 times. Those interested in the exact process should research the archives, where there are more than two hundred Russian papers on the subject. Probably a good place to start would be "The Role of Methane in the Formation of Mineral Fuels", written by by A.D. Bondar in 1967. What is central to this report is the massive advantage that Russia's ultra-deep drilling discoveries and technical achievements give it over the western nations.
(Russia Proves 'Peak Oil' is a Misleading Zionist Scam)
It gets better and funnier the further you read:
Now we come to the completely false [or deliberately misleading] claim by Peak Oil shills that production from existing oil wells is "slowing down", thereby proving that the oil fields are "running dry". This is so wrong that it is almost breathtaking. Think of this slowing down process in the same way you might think of the engine oil in your automobile. The longer you run the engine, the higher the level of contaminates that get into the oil. The higher the level of contaminates, the higher the level of friction. Sooner or later you have something closely akin to glue coating your piston rings, and the performance of your engine declines accordingly. This is an inevitable mechanical process well known to all automobile owners.
Henry Ford and others managed to slow down the rate of contamination in engine oils by inventing the oil filter, through which the oil has to circulate each time it passes around inside the engine. A high percentage of the contaminates stick to the filter element, thereby allowing extra miles between oil changes, though heaven help the careless motorist who thinks he can get away without ever changing his clogged oil filter when recommended.
When oil is extracted from a producing formation underground, it flows out through pores in the reservoir rock, and then into the open borehole, from where it is transported to surface by the production tubing string. So by the very nature of the beast, the bottom section of the well is "open hole" which allows the oil to flow out in the first place, but because it is comprised of exposed and sometimes unstable rock, this open hole section is also continually subject to all manner of turbulence and various contaminates. For example, tiny quantities of super fine silt may exit through the pores but not continue to the surface with the oil, tumbling around in the turbulence instead, until the silt very slowly starts to block off the oil-producing pore throats. Yes, of course there are a variety of liners that can be used to slow down the contamination, but there is no such thing as a Henry Ford oil filter 10,000 feet underground.
The inevitable result of this is that over time, the initial production rate of the well will slowly decline, a hard fact known to every exploration oilman in the business. However, this is certainly not an indication that the oil field itself is becoming depleted, proved thousands of times by offset wells drilled later into the same reservoir. Any new well comes on stream at the original production rate of its older cousins, because it has not yet had time to build up a thin layer of contaminates across the open hole. Though as we shall see it is possible to "do an oil change" on a producing well and bring it back to full production, this is extremely expensive, and rarely used in the west.
(Russia Proves 'Peak Oil' is a Misleading Zionist Scam)
Joe's crankitude peeters out here as his logic falls apart. Just in case anyone is interested in abiotic oil, you might want to check out what Wikipedia has to say about the politics behind this pseudo-theory.
Peak oil salvation may be just around the corner! Or maybe we just put off facing it for a few more weeks. You decide:
On January 10, Swiss-based Manas Petroleum Corporation broke the news. Gustavson Associates LLC's Resource Evaluation identified large prospects of oil and gas reserves in Albania, close to Kosovo. They're in areas called blocks A, B, C, D and E, encompassing about 780,000 acres along the northwest to southeast "trending (geological) fold belt of northwestern Albania."
Assigned estimates of the find (so far unproved) are up to 2.987 billion barrels of oil and 3.014 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, because of their depth, oil deposits may be capped with a layer of gas. If so, Gustavson calculates the potential to be 1.4 billion barrels of light oil and up to 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Further, if only gas is present, the discovery may be as much as 28 trillion cubic feet. In any case, if estimates prove out, it's a sizable find.
(Atlantic Free Press)
Deutsche Bank plays a large role in the world's economy. Now they are beginning to see the truth about peak oil:
Deutsche Bank’s oil team is jumping into the swirling peak-oil debate, arguing that steep decline rates in existing oil fields will make it all but impossible for producers to break beyond a 100 million-barrel-a-day ceiling.
Their analysis puts the bank, long a big player in the oil patch, among a growing chorus who see the world hitting a production plateau of 100 million barrels a day within seven or eight years. The world is now consuming around 87 million barrels a day, but most institutional forecasts say that demand will top 100 million barrels a day by 2015.
The bank says that supply constraints could push the price of oil to $150 a barrel by 2010. The big question will be whether prices at that level will finally lead to a sharp break in demand, something that $100-a-barrel oil has yet to do.
Deutsche Bank bases its supply-side gloom on how much harder it is for oil producers to make up the difference for slumping production in aging fields. For the last 36 years the world has managed to add, on average, around 4.2 million barrels a day to annual supplies. But with a conservative 5% decline rate in existing fields, that figure will have to rise to over 7 million barrels a day to get to 100 million barrels a day—a level "that has never been achieved," according to the report.
(Wall Street Journal)
ConocoPhillips and President Bush are being forced to recognize the existance of peak oil, but they cloak it in terms of production constraints so it doesn't sound so bad.
I seem to remember an e-mail going around not too long ago about different politicians and oil CEOs "going into the confessional," so to speak.
First up was ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) CEO Jim Mulva, who said he did not believe the global oil supply would ever surpass 100 million barrels per day because of production constraints and new laws limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
I love how Peak Oil can be cloaked in such nebulous terms as "production constraints."
According to ConocoPhillips, the International Energy Agency has forecast that supply will expand to 100 million barrels of oil per day by 2020.
And then there was President Bush, who, during an interview with a European reporter, had this to say about the price of oil approaching $100 per barrel: "I believe oil prices are going up because the demand for oil outstrips the supply for oil. Oil is going up because developing countries still use a lot of oil. Oil is going up because we use too much oil, and the capacity to replace reserves is dwindling. That's why the price of oil is going up."
17% of our oil use is for agriculture. As oil and other nonrenewables like ammonia, phosphates, natural gas and potash are depleted, what will replace them:
Still, the kind of industrial farming we have nowadays is a creation of the age of cheap abundant energy. As fossil fuels deplete, that kind of farming will become less and less economically viable, until it finally ceases altogether. It’s quite true, as some writers on peak oil have argued recently, that the current agricultural economy won’t simply revert to the agriculture of an earlier time; that’s not how change happens in the real world of economics – or ecology. What will happen instead, of course, is that new patterns will evolve in the interstices of the old.
In ecological terms, these new patterns will fill available niches the old system no longer occupies; in economic terms, they will use resources and fill marketable needs outside the scope of existing economic activity. Arguably, these patterns have already started taking shape, in the form of the thriving economy of small organic farms and truck gardens that sprang up around most cities in the western half of North America beginning in the 1970s. As I hope to show in next week’s post, this new farming economy offers a glimpse at the agriculture of the future – if, that is, we can get our heads out of our fertilizer supply long enough to notice.
(The Energy Bulletin)
Tom Whipple speculates on what a post peak oil world and specifically post peak oil transportation might be like:
As the availability of liquid fuels dwindles, those supplies that remain will be increasingly allocated to uses for which there are no readily available substitutes -- such as powering aircraft and ships. Electric power for land vehicles appears to be the most realistic option for the present. Cellulosic biofuels may come to power some share of land transport, but this is still many years away. Electric power is a proven technology and, more importantly, a widespread distribution system for electricity is already here.
If ways of producing hydrogen cheaply and distributing it are ever developed, hydrogen too could provide fuel for vehicles. For the immediate future only electricity, which can come from conservation of existing power production, nuclear power stations and renewable sources, appears to be the most likely power source for land vehicles.
Powering cars and light trucks with electricity does not seem to be an insurmountable problem provided that one is willing to live with their limitations. Progress on improved batteries apparently is being made (although some are skeptical) so that numerous makes and flavors of electric cars and light trucks will likely be coming on the market within the next few years. Developing a battery powered car, however, is one thing, building and marketing hundreds of millions of them, in an era of declining resources, is something else. While the electric car age seems likely to start soon, just how ubiquitous they will become is another question.
Whoever writes as The Public Choice Capitalist probably watched a lot of Star Trek and other sci-fi movies before becoming an economist. In his sci-fi influenced world, we easily conquered our difficulties with technological advances. While it'd be great if we suddenly discovered anti-grav engines that run on dylithium crystals ... wishing for it is just ... well ... Star Trek Krap. Right now, its oil and nuclear power. Neither are good solutions. One will run out soon and so would plutonium if we mined it more aggressively.
Nevertheless, PC Capitalist tries vainly to argue his points then gets slayed in his own comments. Seriously, read the comments. PCC gets nearly mortally wounded. Quite funny.
Many people interests have increased on this blog due to the debate between me and "step back" in the comments section and my following poll. My colleague Not Albert Speer also gave his two sense twice about the debate. This is to clear up my position and the misrepresentation on The Oil Drum.
First, the misrepresentation: It was stated that the PC Capitalist is a pro-market science major. This is wrong. Not Albert Speer is a pro-market science major, if am inferring the right information from his two posts. The PC Capitalist, who is writing right now, is a Economist. Please pay close attention to who posts the posts.
Second, my colleague cleared up his position for you and now I will do mine:
When people use natural resources they are often worried about when are we going to run out and when production is going to decrease. As I understand these are two different issues the production reduction does not matter if you believe that we will not run out.
I believe along with many Economists that we will be able to innovate to the point where we will no longer need oil before we run out. This is to say that when whale oil was in high demand and the cost of catching whales went up, people innovated kerosene to be install in lamps. Even in the oil debate itself. We have seen fuel injection engines and hybrid cars spur up when oil was very costly.
(My Last Word about the Peak Oil Debate)
I visit ESPN's NHL and soccernet.com sites cuz they know hockey and soccer. However, peak oil ... um ... well ... you can judge for yourselves ... I think that maybe they should schtick to sports...
There are two schools of thought on how civilization will destroy itself. Al Gore's polar bears have gotten most of the pub, but coming up fast is Peak Oil, which says petroleum production is only going downhill with disastrous repercussions. We thought it might be fun to run the two doomsday scenarioshead to head, based on a mostly random reading of current events. What can we say? We like competition.