RE: Dangers of peak oil

From: Duff,Robert Joel <>
Date: Fri May 21 2004 - 19:41:12 EDT

Glenn et al.

I follow the oil discussion with much fascination and real interest.
Today I read an article by Bill Jamiason "Doomsters are all wrong -
there is plenty of oil"

Below is a tidbit from that article. Had I not heard Glenn talk about
many of these issues over the last few months it would have been easy
for me to find this article very comforting especially given there is an
article coming out in Science that seems to also suggest the problem is
over blown. But now I find myself more skeptical. Glenn, any comment
on the author and this article and the Science paper coming up?

" According to a paper in the latest edition of Science magazine, proven
world oil reserves exceed one trillion barrels. Overall, the paper
reckons that the world retains more than three trillion barrels of
recoverable oil resources.

Far from oil "running out" as some might have it, the big story of the
oil industry over the past 50 years has been the way in which
technological change has continuously worked, not only to yield up new
discoveries but also to upgrade the size and extent of existing fields.

The paper, Never Cry Wolf - Why the Petroleum Age is Far from Over,
cites the example of the Kern River field in California, first
discovered in 1899. Calculations in 1942 suggested that 54 million
barrels remained. In fact, over the next 44 years the field produced 736
million barrels and in 1986 was reckoned to have another 970 million
barrels remaining.

From 1981 to 1996, the estimated volume of oil in 186 well-known giant
fields across the world discovered before 1981 rose from 617 to 777
billion barrels - and this without new discoveries.

This trend, the paper argues, is likely to continue. For example, the
Kashagan field in Kazakhstan was deemed in the second half of the 1990s
to hold between two and four billion barrels. In 2002 , after completion
of only two exploration and two appraisal wells, estimates were
officially raised to between seven and nine billion barrels. In February
this year, after four more exploration wells in the area, they were
raised again to 13 billion barrels.

Recovery rates from fields worldwide have also increased, from about 22
per cent in 1980 to 35 per cent today.

So why the panic? The real issue, says the article, is that neither
major producing countries nor the big oil companies have been keen to
invest money in substantial exploration campaigns. One reason has been
the fear of creating permanent excess capacity such as in the mid-1980s,
when the oil price tumbled to just $10 a barrel."

R. Joel Duff
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biology
ASEC 185, University of Akron
Akron OH 44325-3908
Received on Fri, 21 May 2004 19:41:12 -0400

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