[W]e have no replacement energy source that is as calorically dense as oil. It is simply not practical to replace oil as an energy source and maintain current energy demands.
NOT ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS
Demand for crude oil set a new all time-high in 2015. Despite all the hype about electric vehicles and peak oil demand, the world’s oil demand continues to grow unabated — growing a robust 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) from 2014 (+1.9% year-over-year).
And yes, as the above-quoted article also indicated:
Global crude oil production surged by 2.8 million bpd in 2015, led by a 1 million bpd increase in U.S. production. The bulk of the rest of the world’s oil production increase came from OPEC, which cumulatively boosted production by 1.6 million bpd over 2015. BP’s definition of crude oil “includes crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and NGLs (natural gas liquids – the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately).
OVERLOOKED BUT CRUCIAL
Easily and often glossed over is the more expansive definition of “crude oil” to include shale oil and oil sands. Conventional crude oil production peaked a decade ago. Expanding the definition to boost numbers serves a purpose, but when that effort neglects to mention the many drawbacks of those unconventional resource additions and/or the obstacles now confronting the oil industry [as noted in the 5th post of this series].
As is always true when examining the underpinnings of complex matters affecting large segments of the population, so it is with energy supply: there is actually more than one side to that story. Facts still matter.
For all the legitimate hype and the impressive production totals from the United States shale formations in recent years courtesy of hydraulic fracturing [fracking], even just a glance at some of the underlying issues—in addition to those cited in my prior referenced post—makes it clear that we have solved almost nothing when it comes to sustaining and increasing our fossil fuel supply in the years to come.
That would make increasing demand a problem….
The list of fracking’s drawbacks—rapid decline rates; fewer production “sweet spots”; water usage concerns, etc.—while convenient to overlook in order to preserve the abundance-to-eternity-and-beyond storyline, reinforces the reality of the limits of finite resource production. Unpleasant and distressing as the facts suggest about our energy supply future, more information provides more opportunities for more of us to participate in the planning, preparation, and inevitable transition away from the magnificent fossil fuel resources which have powered us into the 21st Century. Finite is still finite….
The choice to consider realities and facts usually withheld is available to all of us. Understanding why the withholding takes place would also be an enlightening and ultimately far more beneficial path to follow than reliance on massaged evidence leading to a very painful and much more distressing end point. The lack of information shared benefits some today, and keeps many more unaware and thus unconcerned, so there is that.
But a lack of information forecloses opportunities to begin the important work of planning and preparing for a very different energy-driven future. When it is too late to implement plans and transitions available today, finger-pointing-and worse will begin in earnest, but it won’t matter much. The concept of a finite resource coupled with increasing demand and inferior quality, more expensive, harder to access substitutes attempting—and ultimately failing—to keep pace with what will be needed is actually not that difficult to understand.
But if the general public is not being supplied all of the information needed to make informed decisions and contribute in meaningful ways to a future belonging to all of us, then the strategies employed today by those with different interests and motivations are clearly serving only a few.
That is a process and an outcome pleasant for almost no one unless we make some changes now.
NOTE: Taking a little break; back on September 16 with more of this series
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Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings at richardturcotte.com, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:
The Tretiak Agenda
They began [here] on June 15, and will continue weekly throughout the summer
~ My Photo: A Cannon Shot From The Thomas E. Lannon – 08.04.11
We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. Former USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas,
Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being