Re: Life after the oil crash

From: <>
Date: Sat Oct 29 2005 - 23:14:00 EDT

>Glenn, please educate me on what the phrase "move peak oil back ...." means.  

Any non-renewable resource with politically unencumbered production, the production curve will approximate a bell curve.  The top of the bell is peak production. That peak can be pushed off by 1 week if the world either finds 1 billion bbl of oil or conserves one billion barrels of oil. Spend a billion barrels of additional energy and the peak gets closer by 1 week.  Given that we are finding only 3-5 billion bbl per year, each year we move the peak back by 3-5 weeks in time but we are then another year down the road, meaning that each year the peak is about 48 weeks closer, whenever that peak occurs.  If we didn't find any new resources, the peak would be a full year closer to us.  Hope this helps.

>I think one of the issues here is pragmatism vs. idealism.  Glenn, I don’t think any of
>us have grand pretensions that our personal choice to ride bike is going to turn the
>world around.  But as Iain has articulated well such initiatives make a “HUGE”
>difference to the person doing it.  I echo his sentiment that (at least for some of us)
>the bicycle is not chosen as some kind of last resort. 

I will tell you, unless we solve the energy problem and by that I mean the liquid energy problem, we will all be using bicycles, so in that sense it is a vehicle of last resort. But before we get there we will go through several phases, smaller cars, then motorcycles, then motor bicycles, then bicycles.

 I have a car (and a truck) I
>could choose to use every time I need something.  But aside from getting caught in
>cold weather (I’m a wimp about that), I’m usually glad to be on my bike and feeling
>sorry for everyone else forced to spend so much time in their ‘steel coffins’.  And too
>often I am one of that crowd also. 

Great, glad for you. But as I have said, that is not a workable solution for a society which wants to have a high standard of living. 

>But on the idealism side of the equation, where is the sanction for throwing our
>hands in the air and saying it won’t make any difference anyway?  I’m glad peaceful
>revolutionaries who have gone before us didn’t think that way.  They were too busy
>starting revolutions that changed entire cultures.  I don’t know if you are a
>Christian, but this being that kind of forum, I’ll presume to go ‘Biblical’ for just a bit

The reason for my pessimism is that I have  examined all the options and frankly don't think any of them will work to replace the HUGE quantities of energy we use in the form of oil and natural gas--by the way, North American natural gas seems to have peaked production. In 2000 we produced 53 TCF  we are down to 50 now.  There will be a huge effort to drill for gas, but over the past year a 250% increase in drill rigs led to a 3% increase in supply.


>We’re never promised in scripture that our work at social reform is going to be the
>golden bullet that banishes suffering.  The believer is asked to be faithful in caring
>for the poor – the widows, and fatherless.  Never is the suggestion made that
>because of this, poverty will soon go away.  In fact we are rather told it will always
>be with us.  (pragmatist kind of comment).  But this is never to be taken as a
>rationalization to stop fighting poverty.  Of course we should be helping the poor
>(and the pragmatist can give good guidance on which ways are more effective.)  But >the idealism (or maybe faithful obedience is the better term) should never be
>abandoned.  So the train is careening towards various dooms – yes, we know that!  >So how can I do my bit to apply some brakes, or slow it down in some way or
>another?  We’re called to do our best (and science would ideally be providing good
>guidance in this), and then not get bent out of shape if we don’t get to personally
>see great fruition from our labors.  Make a small ‘good’ choice somewhere today. 
Let the idealist in you live a little.

For your information, I have a patent in the works which is an attempt to address the energy issue, but I am no idealist and I didn't do it for idealistic reasons. I did this work out of utter desperation to try to move the day of reckoning back out of my grand-daughter's lives. Nothing remotely idealistic about that motive. So, in response to your sermon about doing something rather than giving up, I actually HAVE done something and I hope it is significant. But that doesn't change my attitude about the difficulties we are about to face. Knowing what I know about the world's exploration effort and knowing how unexpectedly the onset of decline begins and how rapidly decline occurs, I can't help but be pessimistic. 

Let's look at the UK as an example, a microcosm for the world. Here are the annual production figures for the UK continental shelf from 1993 to 1999. Everything looks great, increasing production, all the government officials smiling, Oil industry execs are also smiling.  Figures in 000 tonnes /year

1993      100,189

1994      126,542

1995      129,894

1996      129,742

1997      128,234

1998      132,633

1999      137,099


But then decline set in


2000      126,029

2001      116,678

2002      115,944

2003      106,058

2004       95,443

2005       88,000 est


In merely 5 years production dropped by 31%.  Do you have any idea what that would do to the world economy if the same kind of decline began on a world wide basis? There would be zero time to react. 


Between 2007 and 2010 the UK production will flatten out because one field was found in 2001, and it will come on line in 2006. It is a big field, Buzzard, but it is the biggest field found in 20 years and all it will be able to do is flatten production, not increase it significantly. This field contains 400 million bbls. That is approximately a 5 day world supply of oil. Think about the scale of our energy use.


Also note that it took about 5 years to get Buzzard online.  Any solution we come to when oil begins to decline will take even longer. And when one is hungry one needs to eat today, not 4 months from now. When the world gets hungry for energy, it will need it today, not in 10 years.


Received on Sat Oct 29 22:20:42 2005

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