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Dreadful EROI numbers for new oil exploration and production

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 02:28 PM
Original message
Dreadful EROI numbers for new oil exploration and production
From an analysis on The Oil Drum:

Just to give you a rough idea as to where we are at present with respect to EROI, according to legendary oilman Charles Maxwell on The Money Show, most countries report that it costs from $55 (Saudi Arabia) to $70-90 (Russia and most of OPEC) to $90 (Iran and Venezuela) to produce a barrel of oil. That is a lot of money but underneath the surface also represents a lot of energy. Recent work in our lab suggests that when you divide the energy produced by the energy used by oil and gas industries (data is available for only a few countries such as the US and UK) that these industries use about 17 MegaJoules (MJ) per dollar spent in 2006. This is the energy intensity per dollar spent for seeking and producing oil. This compares to about 14 MJ per dollar for heavy construction and about 8-9 MJ per dollar as a societal average, so it seems to be in the right ballpark. If we assume 5 percent inflation since 2006 we might expect there to be used about 16 MJ per dollar spent by the oil and gas industries in 2008. So if it takes Saudi Arabia $55 to produce a barrel then $55 times 16 MJ/$ equals about 880 MJ required per barrel. For Venezuela, which requires $90 a barrel, this number would be 1440 MJ required per barrel. Since a barrel of oil contains about 6164 MJ of energy, the EROI would be about 7:1 for Saudi Arabia to 4.3 for Venezuela or Iran. These estimates, although crude, indicate the seriousness of the problem and sound a clarion call for opening up data banks all around the world to greater scientific scrutiny while also calling to companies making their energy, as well as dollar, costs explicit and public.

Now, keep in mind that this is the marginal cost of bringing new oil on-stream, and that existing wells put in place years ago will have higher EROI. Still, as oil production from existing fields declines, this is the EROI of the oil that will be replacing it. Charlie Hall has estimated that society needs an overall EROI of 5:1 or better to keep functioning. And yes, I know that wind has has a nice high EROI (that link points to a very interesting paper, by the way).
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Fovea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. YIkes.
When the economy recovers, it better be re-designed to be very oil lean.
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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. Hmm...
These days, I tend not to get too excited about EROEI arguments - I think the relevance depends on the forms of energy invested & returned. Pumped storage hydro, for instance, can never have an EROEI of 1 or more because of the losses involved: However, the energy changes form (from off-peak grid electricity to peak grid electricity) so it is still worth having them.

In the case of oil, if you're converting grid electricity to energy you can carry around in a bucket and use when you want, it doesn't need to be that high: If you are using energy you can carry around in a bucket to make energy you can carry around in a bucket, then you do need a good return. Modern oil production is typically a mix of both, so we'd need to look at bit more detail to work out how sane it is.

Society as a whole may need an EROEI of 5+, but subsets can be a lot lower if they add something else.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. EROI is still just a rough guide
A point made in one of the TOD comments is that most of the energy spent to get oil is in fact oil, so for oil EROI is a good measure, especially to track the performance of the petro-system over time. What EROI doesn't let you do very well is compare across energy sources, because of energy quality and system boundary issues. They make the point that you can't run a civilization on AA batteries, but they still bring a particular energy quality to the table that makes them useful.

In the wind EROI article I linked, they had this graph for electricity sources, which I found interesting:



I expected solar thermal to be higher.
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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. It rather depends on the scope of the source
which I don't see in the eoearth article. I'll bet good money an article on the EROEI of solar thermal would paint a slightly differnt picture.

As for the oil-from-oil, whilst it may well be true, I tend to like slightly more in-depth studies than a collection of "how stuff works" pages - although maybe I'm just being picky. :)
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Considering your confusion about storage
Perhaps you should slum in those "how stuff works" pages a bit, eh?
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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-16-08 08:35 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. lol
This from a man who thinks a Palin speech is "extremely good. She is natural".

Idiot.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-16-08 02:03 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. trouble with distinctions, eh?
Thinking Palin's convention speech was good (by that I meant effective to the speaker's purpose) is a subjective opinion. One that I believe the majority of people agree with.

On the other hand, not understanding the difference between storing energy and collecting energy is so fundamental to the entire range of concepts that we routinely deal with here that it marks you as someone not to be taken seriously at all. If you don't know that basic distinction, then you really don't have the knowledge base to evaluate anything related to the topic.

There is good news though. You can learn.

Now, get to it!

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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. There's a difference between storage and aggregation
Pumped hydro is a storage medium, not a means of collecting energy. Traditional hydro has a very high EROI because it is collecting what is ultimately solar energy. Pumped hydro stores already collected energy and, of course, there is an energy penalty.



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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 05:38 PM
Response to Original message
4. The wind numbers are grossly outdated.
Two factors are relevant. 1) Several countries like Germany encouraged the industry with a feed in tariff (a set above market price for any and all electricity produced by wind). This means that the economics encouraged the development of poor wind sites. That lowers the EROI going forward; and 2) the sample is an average of OLD technology. This is much more significant as the increases in productivity since 2000 have been huge while the additional energy input has been low.
You can see this trend in turbine development by looking at the power rating, rotor diameter and hub height. The power is now between 2000-7000kw, the rotor diameter is now between 80-130m, and the hub height is 80-110m. All of these device improvements, combined with better siting through better wind forecasting and the move offshore is yielding an EROI of between 50-80 for turbines now being placed.

Table listing projects used to calculate your source:





Solar is similar.

National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL Report No. NREL/FS-520-24619) says:
Energy Payback: Clean Energy from PV
Producing electricity with photovoltaics (PV) emits no pollution, produces no greenhouse gases,
and uses no finite fossil fuel resources. These are great environmental benefits, but just as we say
that it takes money to make money, it also takes energy to save energy. This concept is captured by
the term energy payback, or how long a PV system must operate to recover the energyand
associated generation of pollution and CO2that went into making the system in the first place.
Energy payback estimates for rooftop PV systems boil down to 4, 3, 2, and 1 years: 4 years for
systems using current multicrystalline-silicon PV modules, 3 years for current thin-film modules,
2 years for future multicrystalline modules, and 1 year for future thin-film modules. With energy
paybacks of 14 years and assumed life expectancies of 30 years, 87% to 97% of the energy that
PV systems generate will be free of pollution, greenhouse gases, and depletion of resources. Lets
take a look at how the 4-3-2-1 paybacks were estimated for current and future PV systems.


You can calculate that easily enough, right?

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. Any comment on the oil numbers? And they do mention the size/EROI link for wind
Edited on Sat Nov-15-08 06:37 PM by GliderGuider
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-15-08 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Yes, I know; but that isn't current
The table I posted gives the basis of the chart and the table doesn't go beyond 2000 except for one project in Italy that was in 2001.

No, I have no comment on the oil number except to note that it is lower than most calculations which show it between 15-20.
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Fledermaus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-16-08 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
11. Jumping on eggs without breaking them
Posative EROI and fosil fuel...pppffft
Jumping on eggs without breaking them
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