Skip to comments.The end of the age of oil?
Posted on 11/26/2004 8:52:56 AM PST by tvn
According the Washington Post (June 6, 2004) , the world is on the verge of oil famine.
BBC News declares "as certain as death and taxes, we shall one day be forced to learn to live without oil." Further, "people in middle age today can probably expect to be here" for the terminal oil shortages.
CBS, NBC and ABC have all presented grim and frightening reports of rapacious oil executives, unfeeling consumers, gas-guzzling SUVs and declining oil stocks, mostly in the powder keg countries of the Middle East. The unmistakable conclusion: An energy disaster of epic proportions is just around the corner.
Literally dozens of books and hundreds of websites paint a consistent and alarming picture of the decline of the American Empire and the end of the Age of Oil.
Could this be true? Are we really sliding downhill into a future defined by scarce resources, alternative fuels and mandatory conservation a nightmare of strong governmental controls and diminished expectations?
The surprising answer: No.
The world has plenty of oil.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Energy and many, many other reputable sources, we have sufficient oil resources for at least the next several hundred years, maybe longer. The costs of extraction will likely be higher, but scarcity? No.
Without the emotional "the end of the world as we know it," paranoia from the traditional media, let's actually look at world oil reserves.
Currently, the world's recognized reserves of oil are higher than at any time in history. And, contrary to conventional media hysteria, the world's clearly identified reserves are growing every year. The USGS reports in the "World Petroleum Assessment 2000" that world reserves of conventional crude oil total 3,000 billion barrels. This estimate is an increase from a similar estimate in 1994 of 2,400 billion barrels, up from 1,500 billion barrels in 1990.
But this report considers only "liquid" or conventional oil oil that's accessible and readily available from underground reservoirs. This does not include highly viscous oils, oil-tar sand deposits or oil shale.
The major media focuses with myopic intensity on conventional crude reserves, ignoring stunning reserves of oil located in tar sands and oil shale. At best, this is difficult to comprehend.
For example, little media attention was accorded to the dramatic increases in Canadian oil reserves. A December 2003 report in Oil and Gas Journal notes that Canada's oil reserves now total more than 180 billion barrels of oil, with most found in economically recoverably oil-tar sand deposits. In contrast, Saudi Arabia's reserves are estimated at 264 billion barrels.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers sees the oil sand reservoir at a stunning 2,000 billion barrels of crude, of which 315 billion barrels is currently recoverable. This is oil economically viable at prices between $18 and $20 per barrel. World wide, recoverable reserves of oil found in oil sands are currently reported in excess of 1,000 billion barrels.
But by far the largest potential reservoir of future oil is held in oil shale.
The U.S. Department of Energy, in a March 2004 study, reports oil shale reserves in the United States alone of over 2,000 billion barrels. World wide, oil-shale reserves are estimated as high as 14,000 billion barrels.
To put this in perspective, U.S. oil-shale reserves alone would be sufficient to provide 100 percent of U.S. crude oil consumed at current usage for over 200 years.
Worldwide reserves of 14,000 billion barrels are sufficient to provide the world's crude oil requirements for at least several hundred years.
The truth is, the history of oil prognostication is littered with scaremongers proclaiming false declarations of approaching oil famine. In fact, doom merchants have used oil as a vehicle for "end of the world" scenarios since before World War I. Consider:
* In 1914, the U.S. Bureau of Mines declared that the United States would run out of oil in 10 years.
* In 1939, the Department of the Interior predicted that oil reserves would last only 13 more years.
* In 1950, when the world's estimated reserves were thought to be 600 billion barrels, the Department of Interior again projected the end of the age of oil by 1963.
* Move forward to the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which prompted the highly respected journal Foreign Affairs to publish an article on "The Oil Crisis: This Time the Wolf is Here."
* In 1981, a respected textbook on economic geology predicted that the United States was entering a 125-year-long energy gap, expected to be at its worst in the year 2000 with dire consequences to our standard of living.
* In 1995, a prominent geologist predicted that petroleum production would peak in 1996 and that after 1999 many of the developed world's societies would look like Third World countries.
* In 1998, a Scientific American article titled "End of the Age of Oil" predicted that world oil production would peak in 2002 and that we would soon face the "end of the abundant and cheap oil on which all nations depend."
All of these predictions were wrong. In fact, from 1950 to the present, the world's recognized oil reserves have increased virtually every year.
The current USGS world estimate of 3,000 billion barrels of conventional crude is probably conservative. Consider Iraq. Only 2,300 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with over 1 million wells drilled in Texas. Furthermore, only 22 of the more than 80 major Iraqi oil fields have been fully explored.
Iraq is reported to have 112 billion barrels of oil reserves. But based on unexplored reserves, many geologists believe that actual number is more than twice current estimates.
Even North American reserves of conventional oil are probably understated since recent deep oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has identified a huge vat of oil. President Fox has stated that the new reserves may be as large as 56 billion barrels. Deep oil wells are drilled to 25,000 feet below ground surface and represent a new frontier in oil exploration.
A classic example of oil reserve understatement is the Kern River field in California, where production wells were first drilled in 1899. By 1942, after 43 years of continuous pumping, remaining Kern River oil was estimated at 54 million barrels. Pumping continued, and over the next 50 years, the field produced over 736 million barrels. In 1986, using 3D mapping technology, the reservoir was reported to contain an additional reserve of over 970 million barrels.
Eventually the world will move from an oil-based economy to something better. But given the huge reserves of world oil, it's likely that technology will drive this change, not scarcity.
---Iran will lead the way to a non-oil economy with its nuclear program--(sarcasm)
Its true that we will not run out of Oil, yet the world will become virtually dependent on OPEC and the Former Soviet Republic.
A national effort to implement this process and the "Oil Problem" goes away.
BTW our Toastmasters Club meets at the local Solid Waste and Recycling offices and the Director is a club member. I apprised him of this technology and he is looking into it!
Nothing would make me happier than ending our dependence on middle eastern oil. Let them go back to being small roving bands who kill each other in fights over what little water they can scrape out of the sand.
It took a crisis in the availability of whale oil for lamps to encourage the technology that led to the use of cheap kerosene derived from petroleum as a substitute.
This is have never understood. I mean, if oil came from dinosaurs (plus any other pre-historic plant or animal) and these creatures lived -- and died -- for about 100+ million years, and if only a tiny % of them did convert into oil, how can mankind use up all this oil in what? 200 years? 250?
And remember, for the greater part of those past few centuries we're not even talking about all of mankind, only that small % in industralized nations.
Not if the enviro-whackos get out of the way and allow us to extract oil from our own vast reserves.
I followed that story about Changing World Technologies and the related one about the Con Agra (Butterball) turkey waste recyling plant. But no updates, not even on their web site.
Is it economically unfeasible ?
World-class contrarian Thomas Gold has a theory about life on the planet: It's pumping out of the Earth's crust - and it's swimming in oil.
Since the oil crisis of the 1970s, Gold has been saying that the Earth is hugely well endowed with these hydrocarbons - hundreds of times more so than most geologists, or oil companies, or OPEC leaders believe. The general belief in scarcity that drives up gas prices and causes fears of inflation, Gold argues, is a mirage that has served vested interests among oil producers for decades.
Not if we GET the enviro-whackos out of the way -- they won't be going away voluntarily any time soon, true?
We dont have enough reserves.
Now that I'm older and wiser, I know better than to fall for this scam yet again.
I also know enough about the laws of supply and demand in a capitalist society to know that even if we do start running out of fossil fuels, civilization will not end as we know it. Instead, alternative sources of energy will developed and put into use long before the last drop of oil is extracted from the ground.
Whenever you are confronted by a panicked liberal over the "looming energy crisis", all you need to remember is the following two phrases: "Supply and demand" and "economies of scale."
So long as oil is plentiful and less expensive than other sources of energy, it will continue to be used as our primary energy source - at the expense of other, more expensive, alternative sources of energy.
As soon as alternative sources of energy are developed that are CHEAPER than oil, you will see a very rapid changeover to those energy sources. We actually have these alternative energy sources being developed now but so long as oil remains plentiful and cheaper, those alternative energy sources are going to be slow to be adopted.
Once the price of oil exceeds the cost of these alternative energy sources - BANG! We will see an explosion in R&D and within a few years, everybody will be driving around in hydrogen powered cars (or whatever is developed) and the economies of scale will bring the price of these products down even more.
bump to read later.
Correct, we won't run out, but the price will go up. Most of the crude oil reserves are in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Africa. Next in ease of extraction is the Orinoco tar belt in Venezuela. Then the Athabascan tar sands. There may be other tar belts and tar sands. After that, it is on to coal reserves, of which the US and China have a major share.
However, in the interim, there is a huge foreign trade drain on the US to import energy supplies. We've been exporting debt and importing oil, but that is likely to stop soon as the dollar falls.
Merciless, "Fuhrer" [1920-1960] of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)
"...Lewis was a despotic leader of the Mine Workers: he expelled his political rivals within the UMWA...and bullied those whom he did not drive out.... A powerful speaker and strategist, Lewis used the nation's dependence on coal to ...masterminded a five-month strike...even during several severe recessions...." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_L._Lewis)
The end result being that businesses, depended on coal, told Lewis and the UMWA, in effect, " *&^%*#@ you!" and any-and-all who possibly could switched over to oil as their source of energy.
Needless to say, to many, many liberals this man is a god.
By the time we run out of oil, the oceans will be full of sperm whales again.
>>> Its true that we will not run out of Oil, yet the world will become virtually dependent on OPEC and the Former Soviet Republic. <<<<<<<
Is this supposed to be a prediction that Canada will be conquered by the Saudis or the Russians?
The article did not even mention the reserves in the methane hydrates - larger than both coal and oil.
There will be no shortage. Nutty to predict it.
YEah, Im talking about Oil. Canada can not increase gas production beyond the current level.
--although I bow to no one in my loathing of John L. Lewis' tactics, he has had a lot of help recently from the "environmental" extremists and their allies, both willing and the ignorant--
It's just another myth the stupid use to scare the gullible.
Others are: Global warming, Global cooling, over population, water shortages, global famine, rain forest destruction, ozone depletion, etc. etc.
Thread pay dirt has been hit!
I've no doubt that you have a conglomeration of statistical data to support that statement. /s
Yea, I "figgered" as much.
It's a long-standing practice on FR that, when one makes a questionable claim, he backs it up with some facts. It doesn't matter how sure you are that it's correct, it's up to you to provide the substantiating information or links to it.
Oil didn't come from dinosaurs contrary to convential wisdom. Oil came from unicellular microbes. We've always had plenty of those...
The Origin of Methane (and Oil) in the Crust of the Earth
U.S.G.S. Professional Paper 1570, The Future of Energy Gases, 1993
|Oil Fields' Free Refill - More oil than we thought (maybe)|
Call it an oil sump.. maybe a even finer form of crude could be obtained.. or even genetically enhanced organisms could even make gasoline.. or light or sweet crude and become a renewal resource.. Like brewing.. except they poop out oil and natural gas.. What is alcohol(ethanol) and carbon dioxide in beer ..but yeast poop.. A fact that I once explained to a couple of grand daugthers when they asked what BEER WAS.. (in a weak moment)... they said Ewwwweee.
LOL! I was just reading a book today, written in 1982, where the author was saying "We all know now for certain that we're running out of oil."
A liberal I know (who earns $100k) vehemently said that "scientific studies show we'll run out of oil in 2006." She's prepared for the ensuing financial meltdown, however, and will "rely on the community" for her needs. "Relying on the community" is PC code for communism, as you know. They plan to join hands and sing kumbayaa at gatherings in Hawaii and other places they'll jet off to when the spirit moves them. On planes fueled by what?
However, I do agree that oil prices will rise. Extracting oil from sand and shale is expensive for sure.
The technology works, turning any carbon based waste stream into oil. The Con Agro plant is a success in that respect.
As to is it economically viable...
the feed stock for such a plant is a 0 cost at a minimum or a profit - there will always be someone willing to get rid of their particular kind of waste at 0 cost and there will always be some who will pay to get rid of their waste.
The process itself is about 85% energy efficient - meaning you get out about 85% of the energy you put into the process. In the specific case of ConAgro's test plant that's 200 barrels of oil a day.
Additionally, you get 2 important byproducts from the process. Again, particular to the ConAgro test plant, you get 25 tons of what ammounts to a very good fertilizer and about 125 tons of water that meets all EPA guidelines for direct release into rivers. To be honest, it acceeds to water quality of a number of cities.
The 200 barrels a day of oil - oil that is readily used in diesel engines or oil fired furnaces - ammounts to about 1.6 million at $40 a barrel assuming a 200 day per year operating schedule. In reality the day/year operating schedule is closer to 275 but I like conservative estimates.
the 200 barrels of oil equates to 1.8 million gallons of diesel/fuel oil - that equates to about 2 million dollars at today's wholesale prices paid by local dealers.
The plant cost about 27 million to construct and fine tune.
In terms of cash flow, rather than operating expense, it's a very profitable endeavour.
But there are other benifits.
Partial insulation from energy price spikes, elimination of disposal fees, elimination of water treament expenses, reduction in workforce, sale or lack of cost for quality fertilizer....
Is it economically viable in terms of a profit - marginally plus. You won't lose money on the deal but it is not a money maker either. The savings for a company like ConAgro comes from the elimination of other expenses and/or sale of byproducts of the process. Amazingly, there is still room for efficiency improvements in the process through blending with other technologies.
So long as the feed stock for the process is free the endeavour is a break even on the plus side proposition to the bottomline but a net plus to the cash flow. If a profit can be made off of receiving the feedstock, it's a profitable business model.
I understand that the energy return for the turkey feedstock is much lower than the energy return for say tires. So again, more profit can be made with a different source of feed stock. BTW, the primary byproduct of tires as a feed stock is activated carbon - of the variaty that is used in common water filtration units.
Why the environuts aren't all over this process is beyond me. It's a net plus to the environment for none petroleum based feed stocks at little or no overall cost and a zero sum game for petroleum based feed stocks.
Take a look at the Wankel Engines being developed by UC Berkeley. Penny Sized Wankel?
I'm getting tired of this whole petrol thing.
A new technology would mean an end to the ME BS plus it would spark a worldwide economic boom that would last decades.
Yeah! I really liked "Jurrasic Park"!
it's fairly obvious by your posts that you haven't delved too deeply into the subject. we're not "almost" out of oil, we're nearing the halfway mark, and that's what's important. the world only has about a million or so barrels/day wiggle room now before demand will "peak" with supply. the good ol' us of a is all about growth. when that peak is reached we will no longer be able to sustain a growing economy. don't forget china, with a two million man standing army is growing faster than us now and will be competing for that oil. obviously we're not going to change our ways in time to head off trouble so "bad" things are likely to occur. the religous zealots will use this as the sign of the apocalypse and love every minute of it, when really it's not god behind it, just the earth saying that's enough and us not adjusting properly. to put it another way, it's like most folks in the middle ages thinking a solar eclipse was some sort of nasty magic..BOOGA-BOOGA. I challenge you to thoroughly read lifeaftertheoilcrash.net and then refute it. before even doing that, tell me why all the oil companies are consolidating and buying their own stock back? if there's so much oil in the world why did shell overestimate their known reserves by almost 1/3 and then get fined 100 million by the sec for false reporting to the markets? geologist hubbert correctly predicted that the u.s.'s oil fields would would peak in the early 70's, if it's continually being made in the earth why have we had to rely on arab oil and other producers for the last 30 odd years? get back to me and let me know. oh and one last thing, it's not a rep/dem issue, it's the world at stake. you're here, so you must be somewhat interested unless, again, you think it's a political issue. if that's the case just go read about what britney spears is putting on her warts and don't give this thread a second thought..........
exactly my point,
go to lifeaftertheoilcrash.net and read through it and then show me evidence that will prove the peak oil theory wrong. i don't want to believe it but 99% of the evidence i've been reading points to big problems within the next few years.
wow, it's fairly obvious by your posts that you haven't delved too deeply into the subject. we're not "almost" out of oil, we're nearing the halfway mark, and that's what's important.
By your own words, you defeat your own argument. What a dunce! Hmmm... "we're at the halfway mark" GOOD! Because constant technological breakthroughs from TODAY and into the FUTURE are going to provide other means of energy sources, provide better ways of extraction and utilization of existing fossil fuels, provide ways to use much less energy due to efficiency breakthroughs, AND ON AND ON.
You have the LOSER mentality, ignoring history and the future. Don't give me that learned intellectual crap just because you read some stupid book on the subject! You lefties are the biggest idiots, wrong, time after time and yet you still come off as these elite, enlightened know-it-alls that think they have to "teach" us people with real brains and understanding something.