RE: salvation from tar pits?

From: Al Koop <>
Date: Sun Jun 27 2004 - 17:25:41 EDT

Wally wrote:

This week's issue of wired had an interesting article on companies
getting oil from tar pits. Available on-line at

Evidently, some are investing effort to recover oil from this source.

AK: The are two entirely different perspectives on such an oil
investment. For a company getting 50 million barrels of crude oil per
year, a profit of $5 per barrel gives the company 250 million dollars, a
substantial amount of money. For a world that needs to find another new
300 million barrels of crude per year, this is not nearly enough. And
if we have do this each and every year from now on, this is really going
to be tough. A mere 100 million barrels of oil per year from the
Athabasca tar sands will likely make Syncrude investors some money, but
it will only stem the tide of world oil depletion for a few months.

We use immense amounts of oil in the world. Many news stories and
accounts indicate various methods of getting new amounts of oil and
claim that these methods will give us millions of barrels per year.
This is all well and good, but the problem is that we need billions of
barrels per year and all of these heavy oil, vegetable oil, biomass
fuel. etc are simply too little to meet the massive needs of oil that
will be required if the world is going to show the growth it has in the
past (or even maintain current levels of production as population

Right now we are using more than 80 million barrels per day and
depending on the rate of economic growth you wish to factor in
(1.5-2.5%) we would need 100-115 million barrels per day by the year
2020. Projections indicate that in 2020 heavy oil (like that from the
tar pits) production will triple over that of 2000 from 1.4 million
barrels/day (Mb/d) to 4.3 Mb/d. Deepwater oil will go from 1.3 Mb/d in
2000 to 8.4 Mb/d in 2015 and start dropping from there. Polar oil will
go from 1.0 Mb/d in 2000 to 2.1 Mb/d in 2020. But the conventional oil
production is predicted to drop from 64 Mb/d in 2000 to 42 Mb/d in 2020.
  So by 2020 forecasts indicate we will be able produce only about 65
Mb/d (even including the tar pits and deepwater and from the polar
regions) and we will come up 35-50 Mb/d short of projected need. So
barring some totally unforeseen development we will never reach this
point. Sometime before then the peak of oil production will occur.
Right now the estimates put the peak in 2008 followed by a couple years
of recession and wild volitility in prices and then the permanent
decline in oil production of approximately 2% a year starting in 2010.

The question of course is how many knowledgeable people think this way.
If you read enough you find some very mixed messages. There is a
transcript of a Dick Cheney speech when he was the CEO of Halliburton
that indicates he sees Peak Oil on the horizon. You can find similar
sentiments among certain oil company statements, and other clues that
leaders know we are headed for an energy crisis. But it obviously has
not become a concern to the average citizen because all of these people
are not making getting out thismessage a priority. The following is an
excerpt from an interview with Colin Campbell (one of the fathers of
Peak Oil) about these people who seemingly know we are nearing crisis
but are reassuring in their public speeches:

"And then, there is another interesting faction, and I rather changed my
position on these people. You have institutions like the International
Energy Agency, and there was a member from the European Parliament there
who explained this rather well. And these people, I thought they were
intensely stupid in earlier years. You know, I thought, is it possible
that a responsible organization of that kind could be quite so misguided
and quite so far from the reality of things. But on second thought I
realized they are deliberately trying to mislead people as much as
possible. And perhaps that's a very good thing that they do, because the
reality is such a monumental effect. I mean the stock market crashes,
the currencies go to hell, and probably the whole government system is
put in threat, if the truth is to be revealed. So I call these people
the Pretenders. They understand it fairly well perhaps, but they have to
pretend it's something different. And one hopes that behind the scenes
it isn't all pretence, that that's for public consumption, and that one
hopes in reality somewhere somebody is making some sensible plans. One
has to give them the benefit of the doubt: one could say that's what
they're doing.

End of quote.

Of course, the big question is, What are world leaders going to do when
Peak Oil happens? Here is another excerpt from that interview where
Campbell refers to the Rimini Protocol, a proposal for what world
leaders might consider as a response to the coming oil depletion

" I did come forth with a proposal, the so-called Rimini Protocol. And
the origin of this is a conference in Rimini last year and the city of
Rimini has now agreed in principle to host a conference next year of oil
leaders, and I prepared in fact a booklet on this whole subject to be
translated to and sent to world leaders.

"The proposal is that the producing countries would not produce in
excess of their present depletion rate, that the annual production is a
percentage of what is left, and in fact few of them can do so anyway, so
there's no particular difficulty in them agreeing to such a thing. But
more important than that, is that that the importers would cut their
imports to the same level and this would have the effect of keeping
world prices in reasonable relationship to actual production cost and
allow the Third world, the poor countries to afford at least something.

"And it would stop the Middle East and whoever controls it from
profiteering from shortages. And one has to say in earlier years
profiteering was considered to be somewhat immoral, so there's a
morality issue enters itself there.

"But more important than those general things is the result, which would
mean the consumers, the importing countries would have to learn to avoid
waste. All I'm saying is that if you look out the window, you see 100
cars go by in ten minutes. And I am simply asking that next year there
should be 97. This is not a monumental difference and I think we can do
it. They would have to save energy, be more efficient, and there's a 100
ways in which to do that. And then in addition to that they would have
to turn to renewables where they could, wind, tides, solar energies. But
above all to sort of change the way of life of the age of consumerism,
this whole financial system that is built around it would have to change
and adapt. And I think that this protocol, if adopted , would take some
of the tension of what will be otherwise be an awful shock to the

"And the other nice feature about is that whereas Kyoto requires all the
nations, especially the main polluters to agree in some manner, or at
least buy their way out of it, which is a somewhat questionable
approach, but at any rate this would not really require everyone to
agree but just any country that adopted this principle would be
effectively investing in its own future, and within a relatively short
period of time, by virtue of having faced reality a little bit before
they had to, would be better prepared, better organized and indeed
competitive with those who continued to live in the past.

"So anyway this proposal seems to be gathering a certain momentum and I
think we are getting different countries to at least consider it and
come on board. I don't think it matters too much whether the thing's
actually signed at the end of the day, so long as this debate now begins
to filter into the people in control. I think one incidental effect of
this proposal is that one of the conditions [of it]---- the importers
would license the imports. So there would be control on what was
imported. There would have to be, to control the amount. And as a
condition of granting this license they would then require to know from
which field the oil was coming, and secondly, they would exert the right
at least to be able to go and audit the reserves of this field on the
grounds that they have a right to know how much longer they can expect
to receive oil from this source. And so in this way this whole obscure
situation of what the resource actually is would be resolved in order to
calculate what the depletion rate would be. And I think that is an
incidental benefit of this thing to bring a certain clarity because, I
should emphasize really that all these different viewpoints are made
possible by the atrocious condition of the public data. If the real data
was made available to everybody, the conclusions would be self-evident
--- there would be no need to discuss it at all, it would be incredibly
obvious. But there all these different factions are made possible by the
extremely unreliable data so anybody can say more or less whatever he

End of quote.

I have no idea whether oil depletion can be handled in a civil manner or
not by this world, but it sure would be best to give it a try. Somebody
sometime is going to have a speech to their nation that sets forth what
is going to happen soon. We do live in interesting times.
Received on Sun Jun 27 17:53:10 2004

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