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Monday, June 07, 2004


SPIKED (via PeakOil) publishes a contrarian article. Be forewarned, Spiked (as in drugged) is a shadowy British outfit according to George Monbiot with questionable geopolitical agendas.

This is my favorite absurd line from the article:
A far more sensible approach would be to see potentially declining oil supplies as simply a practical problem.

The only correct statement:
Like most other oil fields, on its own ANWR would only provide a relatively small amount of oil.

The next two quotes show a revealing connection:
Today's less dynamic economy is a cause of less rapidly growing oil consumption, rather than its consequence.

Notice the similarity to the Quote of the Day:
"We need an energy policy that encourages consumption." - George Bush II (via weaseldog)

Therefore George Bush is clearly a swivel-eyed neolibertarian technoenthusiast

More discussion from PeakOil blog:

At 11:39 PM, MrExcessive said...

I found this particularly amusing (half-way through the article) :
The second argument, that we can predict a peak by projecting from past production, is even more problematic. It relies on the idea that production is determined by the amount of oil available, rather than by broader economic or political considerations.

This misses the point I think. The Hubbert and Campbell work and the Deffeyes book use past total _discoveries_ as a basis for predicting future production. With a finite resource it seems sensible to do this - after all, where else will production come from if not sources of supply which have been discovered.

The overall assumption which Kaplinsky makes, that the world can produce oil for 30-40 years is evidently wrong. This is the Reserves/Production, or R/P, ratio fallacy.
(from the article) "
Looking at accepted figures for known reserves of oil, at first it is hard to see any basis for pessimism. At present rates of consumption there are 30 or 40 years' worth of oil known to be retrievable using present methods.

The reason that this is a fallacy is that the production-time-remaining figure is calculated by dividing reserves by current or projected consumption. Unfortunately this doesn't work with oil (it might with gas...) because oil wells do not behave like gas-tanks.

Put simply, the amount of work which must be done to lift a barrel of oil from a particular well will start off small, when the well is first installed. As the well ages more and more energy must be put into lifting a barrel's volume, separating the oil from the various extracting agents which have been added to maintain production volumes. In other words the oil gets more expensive to lift AND uses more energy to lift. Economics determines when it is too expensive to lift - but physics determines when the well changes from being an energy source into an energy sink (takes more energy to lift a barrel than will eventually be obtained from that barrel - so production couldn't sustain itself and produce a surplus without external input of energy)

There has been a well known large scale experiment to demonstrate that the R/P calculation leads to bad results: The US hit production peak in oil sometime between 1969 and 1971; Since then it has had to use imported oil in an increasing proportion; Nonetheless the reserves remaining in 1970 were approximately 60% of the estimated total volume present. Conclusion, the R/P ratio is not a valid way to calculate the production time remaining.

Re. Low Investment:
I agree that no new refineries have been built in US in 3 decades. This is because
a) they are very expensive to build and
b) the oil companies knew when peak would arrive 3 decades ago - once Hubbert was proved correct about the 1970 US production peak - and did not see any point in investing in capacity which would never be used.

In comparison to the Spiked-ones, Mr. Excessive is actually quite the tea-totaler.


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