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Peak Oil Matters

A fresh perspective on the concept of peak oil and the challenges we face

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Tag: reserves

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It’s just not that difficult to understand. But if your interests depend on a narrative contradicted by facts and reality, then telling only part of the story to unsuspecting others is the way to go….

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When you read the literature and compare the arguments as laid out by the two sides, the Peak Oil argument is characterized by logic, rigor, data and hard science – just like the global warming argument a few years back – and the opposing side is characterized by, well, by unbounded faith that markets always work and technology always saves us, by paranoid suspicions that the Peak Oil concept is a plot (by radical tree-huggers or venal oil speculators, take your pick) and by assorted Hail Mary passes. [1]

In my last two posts, I highlighted an ongoing, familiar pattern of commentary and tactics by oil industry cheerleaders. Employing carefully-massaged sets of [at best] partial facts and stock opinions based on … less than partial facts is certainly a successful strategy—if keeping the uninitiated and unknowing public in the dark is the goal.

Sadly, that introductory quote—a nearly six-year-old observation—could have been written last night and would be just as accurate an observation now as it was then. Tax cuts are the surest path to prosperity; trickle-down economics are the key; the Christian Right is under siege; corporations have religious principles; cigarettes cause no harm; climate change is a hoax … cherry-picking a few suspect facts in support, offered up by even more suspect “experts,” is what deniers depend on. They win. We don’t.

If these efforts were consequence-free for the rest of us, most of us concerned about our future energy supplies might join in and applaud the efforts! But consequence-free they are not. A subtle, persistent pattern of misinformation and distraction lulls the public into taking no action. Short term gain for a few, long term pain for all.

Yes, the much-acclaimed ingenuity and technological prowess in which we’ve always taken great pride did indeed spark a substantial and beneficial fossil fuel production boom in recent years.

Yes, there are zillions of barrels of variously-defined “resources” buried here and there on our planet.

“Remember a few years ago when everyone — including the CEO of Russian natural gas company Gazprom of all people — was complaining that oil prices were headed through the roof and that peak oil was upon us? Yeah, I can’t, either. There is still lots of oil left around the world, and ExxonMobil has loads remaining to produce.
Today the company has about 90 billion barrels of estimated recoverable resources; based on its current production rate of 4 million barrels per day, that is more than half a century worth of available production left.” [2]

How clever! How misleading….As I [here] and many others burdened with the annoying need to add a wee bit of information and evidence to these airy comments, “resources” sound fabulous but mean next to nothing without context and those fact-thingys.

How many average citizens with more than enough on their plates already pause to consider the implications of “90 billion barrels of estimated recoverable resources”? Ninety billion anything is a lot, and I am making an assumption that once that term enters consciousness, everything else not part of daily jargon slips past. Likewise “more than half a century worth of available production left” no doubt quells the occasional concern by those having next to no immediate and/or ingoing interest in our energy future.

Problem solved! Except for the part about understanding the vague emptiness of “resources” versus “reserves” and that whole “where is it all located; how much will it cost to get it; can they get it; how long will it take; what happens in the interim,” and assorted other real-life considerations rarely if ever offered by the industry’s cheering squad.

Hard to imagine, but for some of us more-than-casual observers about the state of fossil fuel production now and tomorrow, “…we are just now beginning to scratch the unconventional plays and getting some of those wells down and see what we’ve got going on” [3] is exactly what five seconds’ worth of reflection should lead almost everyone to conclude: Bullshit.

That kind of information might get us through a conversation, but our future is going to depend on a lot more than that. It would be nice if those who actually know shared that with the rest of us, short-term pain notwithstanding. They might consider the advantages of that rather than dealing with the long term consequences of their ongoing campaign to mislead and deny.

 

~ My Photo: A Different View – Gloucester MA 10.03.14

 

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gabriel-rotello/the-new-york-times-on-pea_b_270347.html; The New York Times on Peak Oil – Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Gabriel Rootlet – 09.27.09
[2] http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/10/06/5-things-exxonmobils-management-wants-you-to-know.aspx; 5 Things ExxonMobil’s Management Wants You to Know by Tyler Crowe – 10.14.14
[3] Ibid. [quoting David S. Rosenthal, ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Investor Relations and Secretary]

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Those of us paying attention to oil supply issues are on occasion torn by decisions as to whether to simply be amused by the maddening, cherry-picked attempts at analysis of the “myth” of peak oil [similar to the myth of gravity], or  just annoyed as hell that even the simplest concepts are either lied about or are so baffling to the anti-fact crowds that their only option is to nonetheless display their lack of understanding by passing along nonsense and misleading pseudo-facts to an unsuspecting public. continue reading…

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This is a second look at a recent Reuters article by John Kemp, which got me thinking that those who deny peak oil ought to be magicians.

The tactics are standard by now: Toss out some carefully massaged facts bearing the imprint of near-truths but without context (just to be continue reading…

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Good to know the use of the official far-Right playbook of cherry-picking, key word usage, misdirection, and core ideological utterances are still the primary go-to tactics for denying the inevitability of facts and reality! That little of it is helpful for any issue whose shelf-life continue reading…

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Gail Tverberg shares some of the most insightful observations about the connection between economic growth and energy. In an article posted at her website several weeks, she raised issues which are too often shunted aside in the primary debate of  continue reading…

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Expenditures for finding and developing oil fields have tripled in the last decade and the return from these expenditures has not been enough to justify the costs. Nearly all of the major oil companies have announced major reductions in their exploration and continue reading…

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[W]e have to find a way to get a democracy to take a meaningful look into the future that includes worrying about things like climate change and energy supply and the fact that you cannot grow an economy forever and to look at possible intelligent responses. [All quotes are taken from the article hyper-linked below.continue reading…

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An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Knovel Corp: continue reading…

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At the risk of starting a cat fight where truth may too quickly become a casualty, why don’t we more forcefully challenge those who deny peak oil (and global warming) and who do so for reasons that generally ignore reality in favor of narrowly-defined interests? continue reading…