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PaulS's picture

Peak Oil mainstream

For some, the phrase provokes an image of mad survivalists, but the peak oil debate is really much more nuanced than this: will there be a peak or a plateau? Will there simply be a gradual shift towards higher energy prices (which is arguably already under way), or will prices shoot up quickly enough to have catastrophic consequences for those who are ill-prepared? ... from FT

Full article is here: http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2009/08/05/knocking-peak-oil/
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The article is followed by some excellent comments, the first of which is reproduced here:
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This month is my 35th anniversary in the up-stream oil industry, as a geologist and reservoir engineer. I can say categorically that with respect to Peak Oil, we are here.

There is a psychological barrier in society: If one is confronted with a problem for which there is no solution, the natural reaction is one of denial.

Rest assured, the 85 odd million barrels per day we consume in this world can not simply be replaced with a few alternatives.
1.) The oil industry is already using the most sophisticated techniques to get the oil out; hoping for a massive improvement in recovery is largely wishful thinking,
2). It is not a question of reserves in the form of tar-sands, oil-shales, heavy oil, deep-sea oil, artic oil??, all these resources are already accounted for to the extent that they can be. It is the flow rate which can be achieved from these resources that is the problem.

The decline of the existing fields is anywhere between 5 and possibly 9 percent, i.e. -say- 7 percent of 85 million barrels per day, that is 6 million barrels per day. In comparison, the whole of the output of the most realistic of the alternatives -heavy oil sands, mostly in Canada and Venezuela- is expected to grow from the current 2 million barrels odd to some 10 million barrels per day over the next 10 years or so. Now this is a very important addition to the 85 million barrels we are consuming each day, however, all of these small additions will not be enough to halt the decline in flow-rate, i.e. the daily production.

Whilst we are presently just about managing to have a small surplus in capacity given the recession, no matter how much oil of whatever quality there is in the ground, we will not be able to get it out fast enough to keep growing our economies.

We have consumed about half of the known conventional oil, the vast majority after WWII, that is in 60 odd years. All remaining oil resources (conventional and problematic) will be produced at ever slower rate: Peak Oil is around now +/- a few years.

Because the volume is so unimaginably large, our society will have to change in unpalatable ways: Prepare to go on holiday by train to Blackpool, just like your grandmother.

Bruce Stevens
Petroleum engineering consultant
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Nice to see that the view expressed in my various blogs are maing it into the the mainstream media.