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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sissy Fuss

Jon Stewart on the Larry King show:
But Bush, you know the other day when he had the speech about us being addicted to oil, he says those things as though, you know, he just thought of it and we're disagreeing with him, like everybody's been saying that. Jimmy Carter said it I think in 1978.

And he comes out, "What people don't realize is we're addicted to foreign oil" and he's saying it like you're going "Get out of here." We're addicted. You don't get it people. You know he was the guy on the stump a few years ago making fun of hybrid cars because it wasn't manly. And -- and his vice president did shoot a 78-year-old man in the face. Aaron Burr was the last vice president to shoot a guy in the face, Alexander Hamilton.
A real man would also go out on a limb and talk about discouraging commuting and rezoning.
I live in a 2nd floor walkup, though the first floor has been converted from whatever its original retail purpose was into an apartment.

nearest brew pub is about 6 blocks. they don't do much music there but there are two live music venues just a block from me.

Takes me about 2 minutes to stumble home from drinking liberally every tuesday.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Funny returns

I have subsisted on Ricky Gervais podcasts the past few months since Marc Maron got pushed off the Air America airwaves. Punching bag Karl Pilkington provides the dead-pan humour, imperviously stolid as Gervais claims that Karl's IQ hovers around 70:
According to Karl, a country which will remain unnamed actually used a monkey in their bobsleigh team. Due to flash photography during their run the monkey freaked out and caused a crash. The team didn't want the crash helmet removed citing medical reasons, but the obvious reason was that the ruse wasn't discovered and they would get away with using a monkey in place of a human. This story has gained much credence according to Karl as a week later a monkey was seen in the zoo wearing a neck brace.
Fortunately, Maron makes a return to LA radio station KTLK and streaming audio for those willing to stay up late this Tuesday. Wolcott enjoys Lawton Smalls, as do I, but Maron's Pilkington remains Jim Earl, who, like Karl, never laughs at the host's jokes.

As to right-wing radio in LA, the tide has finally receded. Ratings for unctuous shows like Spew Spewitt have dropped by half in the latest ratings. Moreover, the advertising has shown some subtle changes in their targetted audience. I actually became startled when I heard a commercial sponsored by Christian evangelicals calling for action against Global Warming when it played on the local Hewitt station. I presume this organization had something to do with it.
For too long, he said, it has been scientists, environmentalists and Democratic politicians sounding the alarm on global warming. Ball said he believed that he and his fellow evangelical messengers would be more credible to Christians.

"They're going to say, 'OK, this isn't a bunch of liberal claptrap cooked up by enviros to wreck the economy,'" he said.
Humorous indeed, but not dependable yuks. For that we need Maron and company. Hopefully, ace environmentalist Earl will continue his War on Brains series, effectively mocking and documenting BushCo's atrocities against knowledge.

Stay up sheeple.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Chewing gum and biking ... at the same time

Addiction to oil apparently leads to ambulatory problems.
The report, according to The Scotsman, describes a detachment of constables covering a road junction where the president would pass through. The report goes on: "[At] about 1800 hours the President approached the junction at speed on the bicycle. The road was damp at the time. As the President passed the junction at speed he raised his left arm from the handlebars to wave to the police officers present while shouting 'thanks, you guys, for comin.'

"As he did this he lost control of the cycle, falling to the ground, causing both himself and his bicycle to strike [the officer] on the lower legs. [The officer] fell to the ground, striking his head. The President continued along the ground for approximately five metres, causing himself a number of abrasions. The officers... then assisted both injured parties....
A bicycle built for two may suit Bush better; VP Cheney can steer and Bush can ride shotgun. Effectively kills two birds with one stone.

Sin Fuels on CBS

Daily Kos and The Oil Drum remind us that Montana governor Brian Schweitzer will appear on 60 Minutes tonight. I caught a bit of the guv on Al Franken (check AAR archives) and on CSPAN Washington Journal on repeats from Friday.

My sin fuel title comes from this piece in Time.
The coal can look and burn like regular coal. The IRS rule for transforming coal into synfuel--and getting the tax credit--requires only that the substance be chemically altered in some way. The alchemy that satisfies the IRS is a simple process: some plants spray newly mined coal with diesel fuel, pine-tar resin, limestone, acid or other substances--a practice that industry critics call "spray and pray." Other operators mix coal-mining waste with chemicals, coat it with latex and blend it with untreated coal to form briquettes.
I remain deeply suspicious of stuff that will expand our gargantuan greenhouse gas generation capability.

Update: After digesting the 60 Minutes broadcast, I decided that the worst piece of misinformation from Ms. Stahl came from her implication that mined Appalachian coal comes solely from underground shafts. Afraid not, as mountaintop strip mining has become the norm out east, as it will in Montana.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Ghost of Mr. Limpet

The earth lost untold quanta of hyperkinetic energy with the passing of Don Knotts.

Check "Dubya: The Movie" for a funny tribute and timeless references.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reserve growth vs. Creaming curves

Reserve growth curves and creaming curves have a very similar shape even though they purportedly measure different things.

Reserve Growth Curve

Creaming Curve

Several of these papers including Attanasi and Root (quote below) point to the difficulty in separating reserve growth from new discoveries that occur in close proximity to the original fields in some finite or slowly expanding area/volume. So in one case you have backdating and in the other case you just have additional discoveries -- which get counted conventionally, i.e. not backdated, as a creaming curve.
"At the basis of all statistical extrapolations used to project field growth is the assumption that fields are well defined and that patterns of the past will continue into the future. The enigma of field growth is due, in part, to changing and ad hoc field definitions. In individual cases, fields are defined on the basis of convenience by regulatory agencies, by operators, or simply as artifacts of the historical discovery process. For example, the 1990 EIA OGIFF file had several hundred more fields than the 1991 file. Nearly all of the entries not in the 1991 file had been combined with other, larger fields. As new pools, reservoirs, and fields are developed, they are frequently included in older fields for geologic reasons and perhaps for the convenience of unit operators and regulators. When this happens, the discovery date of these more recently discovered hydrocarbons are backdated, and growth of the older fields is extended."
This brings up the fine distinction between reserve growth curves and creaming curves describing a region. These two curves have similar shapes and it seems a matter of taste which term to use when you compile data. Both creaming curves and reserve growth curves have steep slopes that turn into a creep upward.

My comment prompted this reply from rockdoc in a peakoil.com thread.
strictly speaking this should not be a problem....increase in area would refer to a single field, if not a single reservoir. It is not a separate discovery which would mean it is not in hydrodynamic communication with the rest of the field....ie. a separate structural closure or a separate trap. What is being referred to is that often quite a bit of time after discovery additional work (3D seismic, outpost drilling etc.) identifies that initial assumptions regarding oil/water contact, depth conversion, location of bounding faults etc. were incorrect....as a consequence the area of closure in the field/pool can be increased. The unfortunate problem in all of this is that often the folks who play with the "numbers" have no idea about the reservoir dynamics. As an example people still like to speak of Ghawar as if it were a single field when in fact it is made up of a number of separate closures, and several reservoirs, some in communication some not. The geologists and reservoir engineers working on those particular projects know what is going on and report the information correctly....the "powers that be" decide they can group and lump that data. Hence folks simply grabbing that data from various sources will be led astray. Using Ghawar as a whole in any kind of statistical analysis skews the results beyond belief....for instance look at the backdated discovery curve with the huge peak in the sixties.

You are right about the shape of the curves, but as I have pointed out on another thread it is pretty easy to get mislead by a particular creaming curve when you don't understand the underlying geology of the basin. Hence Hubbert missing new discoveries in the US, and creaming curves for Algeria created in 1990 missing out on about 6 billion barrels of new discoveries in the following decade. As to understanding the geology, Hubbert was a brilliant geologist (see my thread regarding his contributions) but the limit of our understanding of the subsurface at any point in time is often a product of the sampling density of that "universe", which, when Hubbert was ruminating on the problem, was good but by no means stellar.

I guess all I am trying to get across is that the idea of reserve growth makes perfect sense to us folks who deal with the discovery-development-production history of fields. The unfortunate thing is it just comes across as magic to those that haven't been directly involved in it. Not sure if there is a better way of explaining it.
Claiming it as "magic" that the ordinary layman can't grasp sure seems a condescending attitude, especially since we know this doesn't involve quantum mechanics or relativity theory or some other non-intuitive concepts. I would rather attribute this lack of desire to impart wisdom to a combination of factors including laziness, arcane lingo, messy data, and double-talk politics that the business of oil production seems to thrive in.

I still claim that nothing prevents us from nailing a good macro understanding using nothing more than an expected value for a typical reserve growth model or creaming curve. I assert that the two curves basically amount to the same thing; in particular when we apply the numbers in a statistically valid way to the oil shock model, either one fits nicely into the maturation phase.

Mike Malloy on AirAmericaRadio.com came on fire today (more than his blazing norm), with an interesting rant relating to the fact that the U.S. guvmint and oil companies understand peak oil all too well, but hide that fact expertly ... and endorse just the figurehead they need:
By gosh, they will support Bush because he is a jibbering moron

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Faster, denser

The startup company Freescale Semiconductor apparently came up with a breakthrough in creating a stable oxide on GaAs, potentially suitable for creating MOSFETs. As GaAs has electron mobilities about 40x faster than conventional silicon, we may soon see highly integrated logic circuitry to accompany the fairly well established GaAs analog circuitry in a few years.

I thought the obscure choice of gadolinium as an oxide element potentially limiting until I noticed that other researchers at AMICA have hopes for Gd2O3 as a replacement for conventional oxide on silicon. A slice of perfect synchronicity in these recent discoveries, I must say.

More here.

In other perplexing news, a one-liner Findings blurb in the back of the most recent Harper's magazine referenced a crystal formed entirely of "holes". It only makes sense if you check out this link of a computer simulation. Alas, nothing remotely practical at the moment.

And disturbing news in the same Findings section in that buckyballs can conceivably bind to DNA and wreak havoc on cell formation. One has to ponder if Richard Smalley met his ultimate demise through an errant buckyball.

Faster, buckyball, kill, kill?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Decomposing Reserve Growth

The likelihood of reserve growth adds a bit of complexity to the oil shock model but nothing it can't handle. The "enigma" of reserve growth, at least in the USA, shows a fairly fast rise in estimates in the first 10 years and then a slower growth spanning perhaps over the course of 90 years. I showed that it graphically follows a self-limiting parabolic growth model in a previous post. If you look carefully at the growth, it appears to decompose into a fast exponential to which we superimpose a much more slowly damped exponential growth curve. If we assume that a fraction of the reserves get discovered early and the rest gets "discovered" as reserves later, then we can use the shock model to evaluate the effects on production by separating the two modes.

For demonstration purposes, I used a single spike of discovery in 1899. The fast reserve growth comprises 45% of the discovery, while the slow reserve growth comprises 55%.

To model the production curve, I used 8 years for the fallow, build, and maturation phases for the quick growth. I replaced the maturation phase with a value of 40 years for the slow growth model. I chose an extraction rate of 5% of remaining reserves per year for both modes. The linear properties of this stochastic model allow us to decompose or compose the two modes freely.

Note that the peak changes by at most 5 years with the addition of a significant long term reserve growth component. The model makes the assumption that the reserve growth actually comes about from continual discoveries or improvements in recovery technology over time. This tends to extend the tails out quite a bit and suppresses the height of production peak if we hold the proportional extraction rate constant.

Whether this assumption holds true world-wide, we probably can't yet say. We know that off-shore fields do not show extensive reserve growth because they shut down on the hint of production decrease. The same holds true for fields in other inhospitable or harsh regions or in fields that have had poor management practices over the years, in particular, via excessive water cuts. If the fraction of slow growth global reserves decreases with respect to the USA proportion, the broad peak will shrink.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Check out Khebab at the blog graphoilogy for good insight on how to evaluate peak oil predictions using some fairly advanced statistical techniques. Khebab has posted quite a bit to the PeaOil.com message board under the Depletion Modeling category, but has decided to start compiling the analyses in a blog. Can't argue with that decision. Nice graphics to boot.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Russian Reserve Growth

On the one hand, news comes out that Russia's reserve estimates have jumped.
But there's one place -- Russia -- where reserve estimates just seem to go up and up. In its annual statistical survey of world energy, BP PLC (BP ) has recently revised its estimates of Russia's total proven oil reserves to 69.1 billion barrels, 6% of the world's total, up from 45 billion bbl. in 2001. But according to auditors with a worm's-eye view of what's actually going on in the depths of Siberia, such estimates may just scratch the surface of Russia's real potential. According to a recent study by Dallas-based energy reserve auditors DeGolyer & MacNaughton, whose clients include leading Russian energy companies such as Gazprom and Yukos, Russia's true recoverable reserves are between 150 billion bbl. and 200 billion bbl. That's up from industry estimates of 100 billion bbl. a few years ago.

Why such a big gap in the estimates? Because it's one thing to be sitting on oil reserves, another to be able to exploit them commercially. In Russia's main oil-producing region in western Siberia, proven reserves represent just 18% to 24% of all oil in the ground, in contrast to about 45% in Western oil-producing regions such as Alaska and the North Sea. But as Russian oil companies adopt technologies, such as horizontal wells and computerized reservoir management systems, the estimated recovery rates are being revised. Thanks to new techniques, which make it possible to obtain oil even from apparently depleted fields, Russian oil companies already have managed to boost their output by 50% since 1998. "The biggest thing is the [new] technology being deployed in western Siberia. The results are beginning to show," says Martin Wiewiorowski, senior vice-president of DeGolyer & MacNaughton in Moscow.
But USGS geologists had stated it rather differently as of a few years ago:
As part of the assessment of reserve growth, Verma and others (2000) evaluated field growth in the Volga-Ural province of Russia. In their ongoing study, they also noted similar reserve growth in the West Siberian province of Russia. The Volga-Ural province has shown cumulative reserve (field) growth factors of 3-5 during the first 30 years since discovery of the oil fields. Because of the time required in Russia to develop a field, defining field growth is more complex than in the U.S. For the study on the Volga-Ural province, the field's effective discovery years is redefined as either the year of first significant reserve reporting or the year of first production.

Volga-Ural and West Siberia provinces show most of their reserve growth in the first 5-7 years after discovery and little or no growth thereafter. It is difficult to compare the growth in Russian fields with those of the U.S. fields where growth continues even after 90 years, because in Russia oil fields are first evaluated over
a 5-7 year period before being produced whereas in the U.S. both the evaluation and production of fields start shortly after their discovery. To further complicate the comparison, proved reserves in Russia generally include only primary and secondary (water flood) recoveries, although in the U.S. the reserves are revised regularly and include water flood and EOR recoveries. Other factors such as the Russian oil industry's lack of infrastructure, operational and economic problems in maintaining and developing fields, reporting requirements and documentation, and changes in the political system may have contributed to the difference in reserve growth.
What appeared mature in 2000, now appears growing? According to the recent news, yes:
The growth in Russia's proven reserves is mainly happening at existing fields in western Siberia, a supposedly "mature" region where production had been declining until recently. DeGolyer & MacNaughton predicts that western Siberia could boost its output to 10 million bbl. a day by 2012, up from less than 6 million at present, and keep production at that level for at least 10 years. The use of even newer technologies available by then means that western Siberian oil production may not decline for decades to come. Russia's reserve potential is vaster still when undeveloped regions, such as the Arctic, the Caspian, and in particular eastern Siberia, are factored in.
It almost looks like the Russians want to emulate the USA's 10X reserve growth heuristic, even though they grew only at most half of what the USA did for its own first 30 years. And this includes the fact that the Russians wait until they start pumping before they label it a discovery and therefore have a much better estimate to begin with. The USGS really should do a follow-up to their original western Siberia findings as I see a number of inconsistencies cropping up. If we have to re-backdate the FSU/Russian discovery curves, then a second peak will clearly reveal itself in the coming years.

On a related matter, BushCo also continues to have his own issues surrounding frequent revisions. First, his odd revisions concerning reduction of imports from the middle east, and now his downward revision of funding for alternative energy. What he essentially promised at Tuesday's SOTU has turned, only a few days later, into a cut in support for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

I could sum it up as follows: We basically lack a reserve supply in global truth.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bush hangover

So Bush completely messed up his goals -- somehow mixing up the figurative with the literal in his imaginary objective of reducing mideast oil imports by 75% in the years to come.

Read about the gaffe and the tidy coverup. (picked up from The Majority Report radio show)
This is a serious credibility problem for the administration. This headline was touted all over the world. Quite a few editors in quite a few newsrooms all over the world are going to feel they were snookered. This will likely mean even more skepticism of any assertions made by the administration, forcing editors to fact check almost every word that is pronounced by it — and run the results if inaccurate information was put out to the public. Expect to see questions at press conferences get a bit tougher, as well. This is NOT just a teeny-weenie inaccuracy. This was a MAJOR HEADLINE that is now being finessed by the administration so in effect the original image (what was said during the speech) lingers while the actual fact is quietly corrected.
Other fawning disciples, such as radio wingnut talker Huge Halfwit, wake up from a long energy slumber by Bush's stylings and begin to push the view that oil shale has great potential, right now.

As Steve Wynn sang -
Yeah you say it's a waste
oh not to learn from the States
yeah it's really a shame

oh and the stars that you show
yeah may as well give to show
oh and it's nothing to me

and I really don't know
cause I don't wanna know
yeah tell me when it's over
tell me when it's over
oh let me know when it stops

oh there must be some kind of answer
yeah but the question was closed
ah you got real imagination man

and I really don't know
and I really don't know
and I really don't know
cause I don't wanna know