8:05 pm in Uncategorized by BruceMcF
From Earth Insight by Nafeez Ahmed, hostsed by the Guardian, Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies:’
Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008.
Dr. Miller critiqued the official industry line that global reserves will last 53 years at current rates of consumption, pointing out that “peaking is the result of declining production rates, not declining reserves.” Despite new discoveries and increasing reliance on unconventional oil and gas, 37 countries are already post-peak, and global oil production is declining at about 4.1% per year, or 3.5 million barrels a day (b/d) per year:
“We need new production equal to a new Saudi Arabia every 3 to 4 years to maintain and grow supply… New discoveries have not matched consumption since 1986. We are drawing down on our reserves, even though reserves are apparently climbing every year. Reserves are growing due to better technology in old fields, raising the amount we can recover – but production is still falling at 4.1% p.a. [per annum].”
Wait a Minute, I Thought the Peak Oil Theory Was Debunked!
Big Oil has, of course, worked hard on spinning the peak oil argument. After all, if we cannot count on the availability of petroleum as an energy source, then that creates an obvious coalition of interest between those concerned with climate change, who argue for investing in alternatives to CO2 emitting energy sources, and those who are simply concerned with securing a long term energy supply for their economic activities … which can be secured by investing in alternatives to CO2 emitting energy sources.
Propagandizing the impression that the “Peak Oil” argument has been debunked is therefore an essential political wedge action by Big Oil, preventing that natural coalition of interest from coming together.
Of course, when engaged in a well-financed spin campaign, what one does is take all the arguments one can find, based on whatever partial or misrepresented evidence one can muster, and send them through focus groups to find the arguments that appear to be most effective. And then put them out there in as many channels as required, including direct issues advertising, various propaganda mills willing to reach a conclusion for hire, and by giving both money and messaging support to politicians available for lease in both the Republican and Democratic party.
Dr. Miller punctures a key talking point here: growing reserves prove that the “Peak Oil” hypothesis was wrong.
The Peak Oil hypothesis is based on the fact that new discoveries are lagging behind depletion of existing fields, so that given the normal production profile of an oil field, a certain time after the peak of new discoveries, we will arrive at the peak of new production. And, as Dr, Miller reminds us, the growth in reserves is not due to new discoveries outpacing consumption … it is due to new production techniques that are more effective at extending the production lifespan of existing oil fields and recovering more of the petroleum contained in the field.
Now, slowing the rate of decline and postponing the retiring of existing oil fields could defer a production peak … if new discoveries were being made and exploited rapidly enough to bridge the now smaller decline in what the existing fields are producing. That plausibility may well be part of why this talking point would have done well in focus groups.
But according to Dr. Miller, the actual facts on the ground are that new production of conventional oil coming on stream is not outpacing the declines in production in existing fields. And so, plausible or not, that link between increasing reserves and increasing total production just is not happening.
Shift the Goal Posts: Change The Object of Discussion