An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Ron Patterson*:

The first chart [see link above] is Total Oil From Six Shale Fields, The Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, and Permian in barrels per day. The last two data points, October and November 2013 are the EIA’s estimate of what will be produced during these two months….
[A]ll wells in these fields must increase production by almost 200,000 barrels per day just to break even. And that number is increasing by about 4,500 barrels per month.
New or additional wells must increase production by at least 200,000 barrels per day just to break even and currently they are increasing production by 250,000 to 260,000 barrels per day, increasing total production by 50,000 to 60,000 bp/d. But the decline rate is gaining and according to my calculations it should catch production in about 12 months.

For all the talk about this wonderful (and legitimate) increase in oil production from the fossil fuel industry’s stable of cheerleaders, the annoying fact they all unfailingly neglect is that the tight oil formations being relied upon for the uptick deplete much more rapidly than do the conventional crude oil fields of the past.

That’s a problem. While the conventional fields continue their inexorable declines, what’s required just to keep pace is much more costly and much more drilling in places like the fields mentioned above (which represent the biggest plays.) Those higher costs aren’t absorbed by the companies out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. We pay.

We can keep doing that, up to a point.

Or—novel thought—we might start paying more attention to the factual side of the discussion of the good news and recognize what’s now being required to satisfy our near-total reliance on oil.

No one suggests that making the needed changes or transitioning away from fossil fuels is going to be quick, cheap, or easy. But when information such as that presented above is considered for more than a moment or two, not quick, not cheap, and not easy may be the better long-term option.

* Ron offers very solid statistical analysis – his site is worth a look

~ My (wife’s) Photo: Boston skyline at sunset, from Gloucester, MA – October 2012


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This new column begins on February 3, 2014. It’s a slightly skewed look at life for those of us on the north side of 50.

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(The inspiration for the second blog at that website). This eBook is scheduled for Publication on February 12, 2014
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Peak Oil Matters is dedicated to informing others about the significance and impact of Peak Oil—while adding observations about politics, ideology, transportation, and smart growth.