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suziedemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:35 AM
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The end of Oil??? Link to Technology Review Article.


The End of Oil?
By Mark Williams Febuary 2005

If the actionsrather than the wordsof the oil businesss major players provide the best gauge of how they see the future, then ponder the following. Crude oil prices have doubled since 2001, but oil companies have increased their budgets for exploring new oil fields by only a small fraction. Likewise, U.S. refineries are working close to capacity, yet no new refinery has been constructed since 1976. And oil tankers are fully booked, but outdated ships are being decommissioned faster than new ones are being built.

If those clues werent enough, heres a news item that came out of Saudi Arabia on March 6, 2003. Though it went largely unremarked, the kingdoms announcement that it could not produce more oil in response to the Iraq War was of historic importance. As Kenneth Deffeyes notes in Beyond Oil: The View from Hubberts Peak, it meant that as of 2003, there was no major underutilized oil source left on the planet. Even as established oil fields have reached their maximum production capacity, there has been disappointing production from new fields. Globally, according to some geologists estimates, we have discovered 94 percent of all available oil.

The Saudis announcement arrived right on scheduleat least, once the three-year delay imposed by OPECs anti-U.S. embargo and production cutbacks of the 1970s was factored in. In 1969, the prominent geologist M. King Hubbert predicted that a graph of world oil production over time would look like a bell curve, with a peak around the year 2000. Thereafter, he argued, production would dropslowly at first, then ever faster.

Hubbert had a track record as a prophet: his 1956 forecast that U.S. domestic oil production would peak in the early 1970s proved correct. Kenneth Deffeyes, who started out in 1958 as a young petroleum geologist at Shells Houston labs working alongside Hubbert, became so convinced by the mans theories that by 1963 he had left the oil business, except for occasional consulting work; he is now a professor emeritus of geosciences at Princeton University. In Beyond Oil, Deffeyes takes readers through Hubberts analysis in a highly readable style, even boiling down the complex mathematics into a few pages of graphs.

The prognosis? Deffeyes has no doubt that by 2019, the year in which Hubberts theories indicate global oil production will drop to 90 percent of current rates, human ingenuity will have found replacement energy sources (see What Energy Crisis?, p. 19). But Deffeyes is optimistic about the long term only because he believes that by 2010, pressures will grow so intense that theyll create the resolve necessary to develop a new energy -economy. In the short term, he foresees continually rising oil prices that force industry after industry closer to the wall. He fears not just escalating resource wars around the world but also mass starvation in some countries, since the 6.4 billion people living on the earth today are fed thanks largely to the successes of the 20th centurys green revolution, which, among other innovations, brought petrochemical-based fertilizers into wide use.

Because 15 years ago we failed to begin developing the new energy sources and technologies we need now, Deffeyes argues, in the immediate future well have to rely on what weve got. In Beyond Oil, he examines how we might optimize the use of our geologically derived energy sources.

Deffeyes suggests that coal will make a comeback and that Fischer-Tropsch conversionthe process by which the Nazi regime turned coal into gasoline to keep its Panzers running during WWIImight become commonplace. He grants that therell be an outcry over the ecological costs of burning coal; similarly, therell be much agonizing as nuclear power plants are again rolled out. But Deffeyes believes that M. King Hubbert, whose 1956 paper predicting the U.S. oil production peak is titled Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels, was right: nuclear power will be part of our response to decreasing reserves of oil and natural gas, as necessity overrides any political opposition.

Ultimately, says Deffeyes, we may just have to resign ourselves to relying more on coal, wind, and nuclear fission for -electricity and switching to high-efficiency diesel and hybrid automobiles in order to ration our remaining oil reserves for as long as possible. Abundant energy from fossil fuels was a one-time gift, Deffeyes concludes, that lifted humanity up from subsistence agriculture and has led to a future based on renewable resources.

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izzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:48 AM
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1. Well maybe oil is going, going , and soon gone
If the companies are not building I would say it is because they know the oil is running out. No new fields because the large ones are gone. They are working on small ones. Lets face it they know where the oil is now. SA can not ship more because their large field can not produce more. They are already drilling in a new way to get all they can. For sure the easy oil is done and now it is costly and hard to get.
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Demit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 11:51 AM
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2. Peak Oil. Even Iraq's oil only postpones the inevitable.
And there's another thread here right now about GM's marketing more V8 engine models! "People want more power", they say. We are truly headed toward the abyss.
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sjr5740 Donating Member (144 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 12:19 PM
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3. As soon as oil is gone we will switch to biodiesel in a heartbeat
The technology is already there and it could be made as cheap as petroleum refining if it was done on a large scale. Believe me if there is something to burn we will find it.

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