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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: tight oil

 

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The painful truth is that with a decline in oil production in the years to come—coupled with increased demand once/if it does in fact increase again—as we’d like to think [hope?], with the realities of reduced investment and research in alternatives tossed into the mix, we’re rendering any prospects for growth and improved well-being nothing but delusional aspirations.

When will there be a pause in denial and the flow of misleading half-truths so that all of us can begin the complex, years-in-the-making processes of adaptation to a world where fossil fuels are not the immediately available source of energy?

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Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, train tracks, water and sewer pipes, power lines, etc.) does not exist in current form without the ready availability of inexpensive conventional crude oil. Our modern society with all of its technological marvels and the wide ranging conveniences was made possible and sustained in large part because we have had the boundless opportunities this fossil fuel resource provided.

But production of that finite resource peaked a decade ago.

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The truths, unpleasant though they may be, are the truths: inexpensive, readily available oil is slowly but surely becoming less readily available, more expensive, and harder to come by. Current conditions [ultra-low prices; curtailed/canceled oil production and exploration projects; over-supply; declining investments; high debt] only highlight that the problems of maintaining an adequate, affordable, accessible supply of fossil fuel needed to power modern society aren’t going away.

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I ended last week’s post on the topic of Confirmation Bias* with these questions:

After all, who among us wants to be wrong about important matters on which we’ve staked no small amount of credibility?

But what if being wrong about those important matters winds up being the least of our problems?

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Few of us appreciate just how much we rely upon inexpensive, readily-available supplies of energy to live our lives.

[W]hat future awaits us if we cannot be courageous and honest enough to plan for that future with the full range and understanding of all the facts now at our disposal? [1]

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Sir, Martin Wolf, in ‘Cheap oil puts humanity on a slippery slope’ (December 2) states: ‘The emergence of shale oil underlines what was already fairly clear, namely, that the global supply capacity is not only enormous but expanding. Forget peak oil.’ He is mistaken. Even the International Energy Agency acknowledges that conventional oil production peaked in 2005. Add other sources of liquid production, in particular tight oil (often misleadingly called shale oil) production from the US, and there has been a modest increase since then, giving a kind of ‘undulating plateau’ as Shell would have it. What the burst of unconventional production from the US has done is to mask the underlying reality of peak oil. This will become apparent as the tight oil potential itself proves limited in time. [1]

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A near-perfect example in the continuing line of cherry-picked, mostly fact- and context-free Happy Talk about U.S. oil production came courtesy of this Tyler Crowe article several months ago. (The title “America Has Saved the World From a Global Oil Crisis” is just a bonus … aren’t we wonderful all the time!)
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