Is peak oil real?, 14°

Nick Lewis 2448°

We heard back in the Seventies that oil would run out by the end of the century. But with improving exploration and drilling technology, existing oil fields were extended, and new fields were found. So, why won't this happen again?

13 replies

Nick G. 297°

Peak Oil is real - the earth has finite resources and various governments around the world accept this.

Written in June 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

Ping S.

Very real indeed -with no doubt!!
And if you are wondering why its happening so fast now , have a read of Matthew Simmons book "Twilight in the Desert "
which outlines just how much Saudi has left- not as much as we are lead to believe !

Written in June 2008

Peak oil is here however there is still a whack of it left. Unfortunately it is very difficult and costly to extract. Presently Canada is creating a horrible environmental disaster in the oil sands project and it is growing every day. The oil markets will become less volatile as the rate of extraction of the more expensive oils catch up to the declining demand for oil.

Hopefully demand goes down faster than production goes up.

Written in June 2008

Correction! oil demand is still on the rise, however I expect ... or hope that the demand for oil will start to go down, or at least level off, as the price goes up.

Written in June 2008

Craig M. 10°

Depends if this is true or not:

I admit to not wanting it to be true, but it may be possible. Of course, we still need to get off oil anyway, both for fuel and for plastics.

Written in June 2008

Russ M. 130°

What many people don't realise is that many of the larger oil *and* gas fields have actually already peaked, some as many as 20 years ago. Among them are Gas production in the North Sea leading to increasing reliance on Russian supplies to the UK and many countries of Southern and Western Europe.

The IEA announced early this year that global demand is already outstripping supply - and this is, if you ask any Peak Oil expert, the definition of Peak Oil: Where the cheaply and quickly extractable stuff, becomes harder and more expensive to extract and thus output (and rates thereof) decline with demand for petroleum products increase to a level exceeding output.

The bigger issue is whether or not global supplies have peaked. I personally believe yes they have, but many experts will tone down the nature of any response due to the inherently inaccurate methods employed by oil and gas companies to factor their total supplies. An excellent introduction into how this all works is found in David Strahan's: "The Last Oil Shock".

Written in June 2008

Leanne V. 197°

Peak Oil is true - in that it truly exists as a theory. The US also certainly experienced a true Peak Oil of its own in the early 1970s, perfectly predicted and modelled by Peak Oil theorist M King Hubbert.

Whether we have reached 'Peak Oil' and whether it will be a slow descent or a sharp collapse is anyone's guess. It is absolutely true that world production of oil has been flat since 2005 - there has been no increase in supply despite continued increases in demand, which tends to suggest we are at or near a supply peak.

And oil discoveries peaked in the mid 1960s. According to Hubbert, discoveries peak roughly 40 years before the production peak itself. So it seems that what we are currently experiencing in production matches Hubbert's Peak Oil theory pretty neatly.

Of course, Peak Oil isn't when you 'run out' of oil. It's when you reach maximum supply, and then decreased supply combined with continued demand skyrocket the price and effectively downgrade the availability in the marketplace. In other words, oil will become incredibly expensive.

What can we do about it? Well, shale oil / tar sands / unconventional oil supplies do not give back as good a return on investment energy. Their EROEI (Energy Return On Energy Invested) is poorer. Where we used to get, say 50 barrels of oil energy for every barrel it cost to mine the stuff, these unconventional sources might only give us back 10 barrels per barrel, or 5, or only 1. So even if they could provide enough energy for the world's requirements, they're not economical if it costs as much to produce them as they provide.

The best bet is to reduce inefficiencies for starters. This is happening already - inefficient vehicles such as SUVs are almost impossible to sell, as an example. People are looking for smaller cars, and demanding functional public transport.

Other inefficient energy wasters will suffer similar SUV-style fates. I wouldn't be investing in airlines right now, as an example.

I hope this answers your question. Peak Oil is a theory, but is certainly being borne out by the facts as we currently see them.

Written in July 2008

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Charles M. 110°

Like many hotly debated issues, the true question, let alone the answer, is very difficult to determine and has many contentious facets.

Firstly: does "peak oil" mean that the industry's production has peaked and it is impossible to get more production on line? Well there is certainly a short term peak, but more production can be brought online and push up production.

Clearly there is no reason for oil producers to produce more oil than is consumed or the stuff would just have to be stored. Instead the oil producers like to keep supply and demand reasonably balanced. Sudden surges in demand or hurricanes ripping through a production area can upset the balance. Fearful buying then pushes up prices. Higher prices make it more viable to open up marginal production.

The second part of this: "has cheap oil peaked?". Most easily extracted oil seems to either have been depleted or is currently being tapped near full production capacity. There is still a lot of oil which is harder to extract. This requires more complex drilling/extraction techniques and is also more expensive to extract. It is only commercially viable to extract this oil above a certain price. Sustained higher prices mean more oil is worth pumping.

The last and most contentious part of the oil debate is that of "abiotic oil": is oil, like coal, a "fossil fuel" or is it a mineral? The debate rages hot with theories, and assumptions, on both sides. If abiotic oil is true then it is still plentiful, but at depth at higher production costs. So, even if abiotic oil does mean that oil can last for hundreds or so more years, it will only be economically viable to extract that oil at higher prices.

Written in July 2008

Rob B. 37°

Hi Nick, such a tease. Of course it is true. Stands to reason the resource is finite so at some point the rate of demand is going to outstrip that of supply. That's peak oil. Even if we reduced oil consumption to 1 percent of current, peak oil's still inevitable. The question is when and what, if anything, do we do about it - and what, if any, difference it will make.

Written in July 2008

Nick Y.

There is a very good article about this here
Oil: The final warning

But I think peak oil is a distraction. We can''t *afford* to burn all the oil that remains. To change the trajectory of climate change we need to reduce our fossil fuel consumption.

Written in July 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

John G.

Natural oil being a lubricant and used as a lubricant, imagine this scenario.
All that oil that we are extracting is actually what is protecting us from the inner heat of the earth and hey we cook ourselves from the inside out microwave style.
Could be really entertaining to be part of.

Written in July 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

is the moon green cheese? does the sun circle a flat earth? are there goblins under the bed?

once upon a time people did not think these were nonsense questions....

Written in July 2008

Looking at the lay of the land masses when products that created oil were layed down vast un tapped resorce. Example gideon 3 points to opportunitys further from the shelf. Where is the wild cat?

Written in July 2008

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