Skip to main content

Enough is enough. Energy literacy is mandatory in 2010.

If the New York Times wants to continue to willfully position itself in the service of fossil fuel interests, so be it. But we're fighting back. Today's uppercut is thrown by geoscientist and PCI Fellow David Hughes.  

Read on for a detailed 'correction' of NY Times reporter Clifford Krauss' woefully misleading 17. Nov 2010 article, "There Will Be Fuel."

Full release with charts/graphs/data at http://www.postcarbon.org/...

For Release 22 November 2010

Tod Brilliant
POST CARBON INSTITUTE
tod@postcarbon.org
707-823-8700 x105

Full release with charts/graphs/data at http://www.postcarbon.org/...

Fossil Fuel Factual Fallacies: New York Times Called Out by Renowned Geoscientist

Santa Rosa, CA (22. November 2010) Rarely is the public treated to such inaccurate, misleading and unhelpful journalism as in "There Will Be Fuel" http://www.nytimes.com/... by New York Times correspondent, Clifford Krauss (New York Times, November 17, 2010), even in this era of political spin and smoke and mirrors surrounding energy.

Let’s begin with the article’s concluding comment:

"When you add it up," Mr. Morse noted, "you get something that very closely approximates energy independence."

The facts of the matter are that no nation on earth is more dependent on imported oil than the U.S. Although consumption has declined somewhat, due to the Great Recession, imports accounted for more than 61 percent of U.S. oil consumption in 2009. Net 2009 U.S. imports of 11.5 million barrels per day exceeded China’s TOTAL OIL CONSUMPTION of 8.6 million barrels per day by 33 percent. Americans, with a population of 310 million, consumed 18.7 million barrels per day in 2009 compared to China, a country with 1.32 billion people, which consumed a mere 8.6 million barrels per day. This works out to 22 barrels of oil consumption per American in 2009 compared to 2.4 barrels per person in China.

Although American oil production increased slightly in 2009 from a recent low in 2008, it is down 36 percent from its all time peak in 1970. Meanwhile oil imports are up by 358 percent since 1965. The vaunted 100,000 barrel per day growth in shale oil production by 2013 in Krauss’ article, if it occurs, would amount to half a percent of current U.S. consumption.

The search for subsalt oil in deepwater locations in the Atlantic, deepwater exploration in the Gulf, and Arctic exploration, represent the last frontiers, as less hostile locales have already been thoroughly explored and exploited. Enough growth in deep water production in the Gulf of Mexico to offset declines in the onshore U.S. fields remains to be seen, given the fallout from BP’s Macondo blowout. The Santos Basin fields in the Atlantic off of Brazil may contain 40 billion barrels, and the mean estimate in the recent circum-Arctic study by the USGS was 90 billion barrels. Added together these equal perhaps four years of world consumption at current rates of 31 billion barrels per year – the catch being that this oil, if it exists, will take decades to produce.

Groups other than the uber-optimists at CERA cited in the article have expressed concern http://peakoiltaskforce.net/... about deepwater production by non-OPEC countries, which constitutes much of the future potential for new production, and about the implications http://peakoiltaskforce.net/... of peak oil production globally. There are many other credible recent reports on the implications of peak oil, which the author of this article willfully chose to ignore.

Notwithstanding the IEA’s recent projection of increases in world oil production to 99 million barrels per day by 2035, this represents a stunning decline in IEA estimates of future oil production, which as recently as 2005 were at 118 million barrels per day by 2030. A closer look at how the recent IEA oil production estimates are to be achieved reveals that all growth in its forecasts will be due to unconventional oil (including biofuels) and natural gas liquids, and that conventional crude production will remain on a plateau below 2006 production levels through 2035 (a highly optimistic assumption in my view).

With respect to shale gas production in the U.S., which the author hypes along with LNG, U.S. gas production in 2009 was still four percent below the 1973 gas production peak. The U.S. is still a net gas importer via pipeline from Canada and via LNG from many countries. Despite the hype of people like Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of shale gas producer Chesapeake, who was recently featured on 60 Minutes, and who testified http://startelegram.typepad.com/... before Congress that U.S. gas production could increase by 50 percent or more in the next decade, the realities of shale gas make this unlikely. Shale gas wells have very high decline rates, between 65 and 85 percent in the first year, are high tech and hence expensive, utilize large amounts of water, and have environmental costs that are now becoming evident. The EPA has begun an extensive investigation of the environmental issues surrounding "fracking," upon which shale gas production depends.

In summary, oil and gas are finite resources that are being consumed at unprecedented and growing rates. Despite what Krauss’ article says, the U.S. is the worst offender and is highly vulnerable to future energy price and supply shocks. The growth trajectory of the already high consumption levels in the industrialized world and the rapid growth in consumption in the developing world is patently unsustainable. Articles such as this falsely promote complacency and thus are an extreme disservice to understanding the energy sustainability dilemma facing the World. The premise of this article that the U.S. is approaching "energy independence" could not be further from the truth.

J. David Hughes - Fellow, Post Carbon Institute

ABOUT DAVID HUGHES
David Hughes is a geoscientist who has studied the energy resources of Canada for nearly four decades, including 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada as a scientist and research manager. He developed the National Coal Inventory to determine the availability and environmental constraints associated with Canada’s coal resources. As Team Leader for Unconventional Gas on the Canadian Gas Potential Committee, he coordinated the recent publication of a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s unconventional natural gas potential. Over the past decade, he has researched, published and lectured widely on global energy and sustainability issues in North America and internationally. He is a board member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas – Canada and is a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.

ABOUT POST CARBON INSTITUTE
Post Carbon Institute provides individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, and environmental crises that define the 21st century. PCI envisions a world of resilient communities and re-localized economies that thrive within ecological bounds.

In addition to Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg, PCI Fellows include Bill McKibben, Majora Carter, Wes Jackson, David Orr and 24 others. Full list of PCI Fellows.

POST CARBON INSTITUTE
Tel: +1.707.823.8700 • Fax: +1.866.797.5820  
http://www.postcarbon.org   •   media@postcarbon.org

Originally posted to todbrilliant on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 12:14 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  No poiltical will (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, boatsie

    The USA lacks the political will to get off of oil.  It will cause the collapse of the country in the next few decades.

    We couldn't do that changes that would have prevented this 40 years ago in the 1970s.  Its even harder now.

    The US is done.

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 12:39:27 AM PST

    •  Nah. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, boatsie, citisven

      But distances may warp in strange ways. One of the things I noticed is largely absent from any oil discussion is that supply shocks affect different uses of oil at different points of time and need different adaptations.

      Petrochemicals aren't that much of a problem. They simply need an organic source, be it oil, coal, gas, or biomass. As long as you have Vermont, you will have plastic wrap.

      As for transportation, the most inefficient forms will be affected first, which means private car use. A good proxy for vulnerability are net pound-gallons, the amount of fuel it takes to transport 1 pound of goods 1 mile.

      Obviously, personal transport is the worst offender. Fortunately, for daily uses, even low-quality electric cars (range 50-100 miles) could replace the internal combustion engine and, since an electric engine is far more efficient, you'd need about a third of the energy you need now to move the same vehicle fleet the same distance, other things being equal.

      Conversely, rail can be electrified quite easily, and has a very good fuel economy until ectrification is carried out. Much the same goes for shipping: Compared to the amount of goods it transfers, it has an incredible fuel economy, so unless oil runs out completely (don't forget biofuels) shipping shouldn't be a problem, and even then shipping can switch to coal and nuclear (or sail).

      In short, I think that, in the event of an oil crisis Shanghai will turn out to be closer to New York than Bucksnort, TN. Since adaptation appears likely to be fitful and since it's hard to electrify trucking (current electric trucks only have a range of about 100 miles) I would say small towns will be the worst affected. When the state decides to adapt it will connect its high density areas and food production centres (which actually are already served rather well by rail). Real America, as Palin calls it, will be far down the list.

      In short, I would predict population will concentrate near waterways, rail, and coastlines, while small towns will survive only if they are indispensable because of food production, raw materials, and suchlike. Declining mobility will also mean company towns will reemerge.  

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 02:04:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hi Tod (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, LaughingPlanet

    Good post, your organization mission interests me, I also contribute to enviromental analysis, publication and NGO support here in China (in Chinese).

    Since you are new here, may I suggest you connect with ekos, if you use that as a keyword on diary search or read the FAQ you will find more information on this.

    T+R

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 07:15:40 AM PST

  •  morning tod (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, LaughingPlanet

    so glad you got this important diary up here! I added ekos tag!

    I'll send it out to DK GreenRoots and Ekos for more eyes.

    What did you do when you knew? boatsie

    by boatsie on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 08:37:14 AM PST

  •  in summary (0+ / 0-)

    ... oil and gas are finite resources that are being consumed at unprecedented and growing rates. Despite what Krauss’ article says, the U.S. is the worst offender and is highly vulnerable to future energy price and supply shocks. The growth trajectory of the already high consumption levels in the industrialized world and the rapid growth in consumption in the developing world is patently unsustainable. Articles such as this falsely promote complacency and thus are an extreme disservice to understanding the energy sustainability dilemma facing the World. The premise of this article that the U.S. is approaching "energy independence" could not be further from the truth.

    Fabulous article! Let the pushback begin!

    What did you do when you knew? boatsie

    by boatsie on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 10:03:25 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site