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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

T1 is no K2

According to A. M. Samsam Bakhtiari, we have moved from Peak Oil to a phase he refers to as Transition One:
In my humble opinion, we should now have reached 'Peak Oil'. So, it is high time to close this critical chapter in the history of international oil industry and bid the mighty 'Peak' farewell... At present, global oil output fluctuates around 82 mb/d as some institutions try vainly to push 2005 statistics towards 83 and 84 mb/d (as they always do). But they will be obliged to backtrack as 'actual' oil supplies fail to follow their 'paper' ones.
So that, in the 'Peak Oil' aftermath, we are about to enter what I call 'Transition One' [T1] --- a rather bizarre phase akin to a vague 'no-man's-land' between still adequate oil supplies and the clear realization that demand has definitely left supply behind. I see the tragic '2004 Tsunami' and the heart-breaking '2005 Katrina and Rita' as the precursors signs to 'T1'. This fresh phase might come to burst on the global stage during the coming winter 2005-2006 --- maybe taking large swaths of the public by surprise...
Fortunately, the hidden advantage of 'T1' is that worldwide oil supplies will remain almost constant during this initial phase, allowing those with foresight, intelligence and agility to begin preparing for the next, more-turbulent phases: 'T2', 'T3', .....
But if you believe this will cause people to rethink their energy extractionist ways, David Roberts passes it through the gristmill first:
It's this: Environmentalists seem to have a somewhat naive faith that once the concept of peak oil sinks in, people will move -- as though by the force of tides -- to support renewable, decentralized energy.

But why should that be true? A much more natural, predictable reaction would be to push like mad for more drilling and for more coal gasification. Both more drilling and more coal-to-liquid-fuel production would fit better with our existing infrastructure and practices, however environmentally malign they may be.


Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what about the EPR for Coal to Liquids? I believe for richer veins coal has an EPR of 8:1 compared to oil with 10:1. However gasification surely would reduce this figure significantly as would the use of poorer grades. I have read that this could reduce the EPR down to around 3:1, and even less if we decide to add the costs of sequestration and removal of other pollutants into the equation. Seems that an awful lot of energy will be used to create a very expensive barrel of uncoventional oil. And won't it also be the case that the more energy the Energy Industry uses to create energy in the first place, the less will be available for the rest of the economy? (After all energy is but a means to an end - not an end in itself). An economy built on the assumption of continued flows of cheap oil?

11:09 PM  
Professor Blogger SW said...

I'm bullish on renewables for purely pragmatic reasons. Of course, the default will be to scurry around like mad to enhance extraction. But the reality is that all of that scurrying will at best simply allow us to run in place for awhile and ultimately will not be sufficient to keep up with depletion. Therefore since the entire enterprise is predicated on growth, and growth requires energy, any cost competitive energy source will find eager markets. And renewables will be cost competitive. They will be one of the few remaining sources of future growth.

6:09 AM  
Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's this: Environmentalists seem to have a somewhat naive faith that once the concept of peak oil sinks in, people will move -- as though by the force of tides -- to support renewable, decentralized energy."

I think the most likely thing to happen when the concept of peak oil comes to be understood by the general public is that they will panic over where they live and how they will get the things that they most need, such as warmth, fresh water, food, clothing, and so on. Things will probably begin to get violent around then.

2:18 PM  

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