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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Comprehensive Oil Depletion Model Life-Cycle

Setting the Stage
In light of this fact, it should be no surprise that the possibility that world oil production will soon reach a peak and then inexorably decline is a subject of great interest and intense debate. As noted by Dr. Greene, the “pessimists,” a somewhat pejorative label given to those who are convinced that the oil peak is imminent and that its consequences will be dire, assert that world oil supply is chiefly determined by the geology of oil resources.
The term "pessimist" has no meaning anymore. Can you still call a person who questioned the run-up of hedge funds and derivatives, not to mention the stock market for the last 10+ years, a pessimist without incurring any sense of shame? All the models in that world got built to advance one motive -- that of profit, brought about by no small part greed. No one really cared whether they made sense in some theoretical framework, and why should they, since human nature would constantly batter down the model's premises in search of escape clauses. This occurred all in the nature of one-upping the next guy ... in a zero-sum game of zero-summed optimism.

So I have general agreement with "Dr.Greene" in that geology determines the oil depletion arc almost completely. I would even take it a step further and also claim that probability and statistics plays an even greater role. The following comprehensive framework, that has essentially described the information content of this blog the last few years, maps out what I have tried to achieve. Don't confuse this with any kind of wacked-out psychohistory-styled prediction of the future though. Although it shares some grand aspects of a statistics-based forecasting outlook, I think I know enough when to give it a rest and not to try to predict collective human actions.

I don't consider the math behind the models that difficult to understand. The two darkened bubbles above contain the mathematical foundation for parts of the discovery process along with the oil production model. Everything fits together like a glove (IMHO and after several years of effort) and the interpretations of the model replace a longstanding set of heuristics that in the past have served to cobble together a rather poorly-formed understanding of the aggregated oil production life-cycle. The last piece in the puzzle occurred in the past few months, as I tried to decipher a model for field-size distributions.

As I spent most of my time working my way backward in the oil life-cycle timeline (right to left in the above figure), I can't provide a linear description of the comprehensive model's development. In the interim, the following bullet list of links provides reference points for entry into a mind-blowing range of pessi-optimism or opto-pessimism ... depending on your point of view.
If you enjoy the art of rhetoric more than the dialectic, beware. For many, this stuff brings on MEGO, but for a few die-hards you can get your math-porn for free.


Professor Anonymous Amanda Crowe said...

From the oil industry's perspective, the new LCFS adds insult to injury as the carbon life cycle analysis also exposes oil produced from tar sands (cp. Athabasca, Canada) as incredibly carbon-intensive.

10:28 AM  

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