RE: National Geographic Peak Oil

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Thu May 20 2004 - 22:36:14 EDT

Al has spotted an excellent article from the small excerpt I read. The
article notes that geologists and economists are embroiled in a debate
about the subject. That is, in general true. I know a few geologists
who think that oil production won't peak for a long time because we keep
finding more reserves. I only know of two economists who think the
world is about to peak in oil. To me it is amazing that the economist
at the Hubbert's Peak Symposium at the Offshore Technology Conference in
Houston 2 weeks ago, Michael Lynch cited the UK as an example of a
province that was continuing to gain produciton. But his graphs only
showed production up to the year 2000, which means he is 3-4 years out
of date. If he had shown the last 3 years of production, the data would
not have fit his case. He was behaving in a very YEC-like fashion.
Hopefully this week end I will get around to writing what I saw there.
There were lots of interesting views.

Of Michael Lynch, he asked me to review an article for the Oil and Gas
Journal before it was published. Frankly, he doesn't even know how
reservoir engineers determine the estimated ultimate recovery for an oil
field, yet he passes himself off as an expert in energy. Being now in
charge of reservoir simulation at my company, I have become more
concerned than I was when I was only a geophysicist in exploration. The
economists are merely believing Adam Smith, that a rise in prices will
bring an increased supply--like corn supplies increase when the corn
price rises. But oil is not like corn. Oil must obey the laws of fluid
flow which are very unforgiving.

As Al notes, a 2% decline rate will be hard to replace with nukes. And
as oil declines, the cost of a nuclear plant goes up because of the need
for construction equipment and thus the need for oil.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of Al Koop
> Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 6:09 AM
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: National Geographic Peak Oil
> My copy did not come yet, but reportedly the June cover story
> of National Geographic is about peak oil.
> If oil starts to decline at 2% a year, an optimist and a
> realist agreed on an energy listserve, that to replace the
> energy from this oil the US would have to have about 1 large
> nuclear plant coming on line each week for each 2% decline in
> oil supply. Since the oil supply will decline for decades,
> that means the building would have to go on for decades. I
> think that is in line with Glenn's ballpark estimates as
> well. That also leaves open the question of how much cheap
> fissile material there is to run these plants.
> Considering that we now have about a 100 nuclear plants
> operating from over the past 40 years, we know that is not
> going to happen. Coal plants will make up some of the
> deficit. Other boutique energy sources will certainly take
> up some of the slack, but how much of that is possible?
> Thus economic growth will slow down or reverse and forced
> conservation will occur. No matter how optimistic you are,
> it is difficult to see where all of this energy is going to
> come from unless the oil economists are correct in asserting
> that high prices will lead to new technolgies that find more
> fields and also greatly increase recovery.
> Al Koop
Received on Thu May 20 22:36:37 2004

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