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Improbable bell curve

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  • Sun, Jun 26, 2011 - 11:05am

    #1
    Marius Mollersen

    Marius Mollersen

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    Improbable bell curve

So, “peak oil” is a well established fact for individual oil wells. It has also been observed that oil production follows a similar bell curve for entire fields and even countries.
But I have seen no good explanation on why it should be true for the world production. The fact that there was a peak in oil discoveries somewhere in the past is by no means a proof that we cannot have an even higher peak somewhere in the future. I consider this virtually impossible to predict, but most certainly will high oil prices push for new technology in discovering oil.

  • Sun, Jun 26, 2011 - 02:30pm

    #2

    Aaron M

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    Bell Curve

Questions:
[quote] 1. But I have seen no good explanation on why it should be true for the world production.

2.The fact that there was a peak in oil discoveries somewhere in the past is by no means a proof that we cannot have an even higher peak somewhere in the future. I consider this virtually impossible to predict, but most certainly will high oil prices push for new technology in discovering oil.[/quote]

Answer:
[quote]So, “peak oil” is a well established fact for individual oil wells. It has also been observed that oil production follows a similar bell curve for entire fields and even countries.[/quote]

Unless you believe oil regenerates faster than it is being used, you answered your own question. Extraction profiles of any finite resource follow a macroscale curve nearly identical to the micro/mesoscale curves. While this is empirical data, it’s a theory that’s very well vetted and understood.

In short, you answered your own question, unless you don’t think that oil is a finite resource.
Others (myself included) would suggest it doesn’t matter – if it doesn’t regenerate faster than we’re using it (which from the Hubbard Curve and the contentious nature of Global Oil production it seems obvious that it doesn’t) it’s a useless point for the next X amount of generations.

Hitting a “higher” peak in the future wouldn’t change the overall decline – strongly suggest you watch Dr. Albert Bartlett’s video on Energy, Population and Arithmetic. That will provide some of the fundemental premises that you’re looking for.

FWIW, the military is going bonkers trying to find a suitable heir to the oil economy. Algae is the closest thing to a solution, and it’s not looking super-promising.

Cheers, and hope this helps.
Aaron

  • Sun, Jun 26, 2011 - 07:03pm

    #3
    Marius Mollersen

    Marius Mollersen

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    Thanks for your reply. I

Thanks for your reply. I might have expressed myself unclearly:

I am not disputing that oil is being depleted. I only dispute that world production necessarily (nearly) follows a bell curve. If we agree that production might have its ups and downs in the future, then the assumption that something very drastic is about to happen in the oil markets right about now might be very wrong.

Personally I find it possible that as deepwater technology evolves, oil discoveries will boom. The mean extraction cost will be higher than today, but that cost will also sink as technology advances.

In the looong run, of course, oil will be scarce, and we will have to look for other sources of energy.

  • Sun, Jun 26, 2011 - 08:00pm

    #4

    Aaron M

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    At what cost?

Mariusm,

I think most of us expect oil shock to be a “slow” process – not something that happens and sends the world spiraling into a world populated by leather-clad, shotgun toting policemen in V8 interceptors doing battle with Mask wearing musclemen in bondage gear.

The problem inevitable boils down to what’s the cost of these deepwater rigs, both in economic and environmental terms?
For one, I question the logic of sucking mass out of the ground and leaving empty cavities behind. I’m not a geologist, and I’d *love* to hear a Geologists take on why it’s not a problem, but the ocean seems like an exceptionally dicey place to begin displacing sub-aquatic mass – simply because of the sheer volume and weight above it. Deepwater Horizon might end up looking like a “sorry guys, our bad” moment in comparison to an event that might undermind the integrity of oceanic plates.
Again, just theorizing here.

The real problem is fiscal cost. Oil is pretty amazing, and it will be around for the rest of our lifetimes. The question is: who will it be available to, and at what cost?

You’ve already got a handle on this, so here’s my question: What technology is going to replace oil?
My story about the military is directly from a rep at the Pentagon, who specifically mentioned the budget catastrophe and the evolving energy crisis. This is getting attention at high levels of the government, and they’re not finding solutions…

Cheers,

Aaron

  • Sun, Jun 26, 2011 - 10:56pm

    #5

    Damnthematrix

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    something very drastic is about to happen

[quote=mariusm98]I am not disputing that oil is being depleted. I only dispute that world production necessarily (nearly) follows a bell curve. If we agree that production might have its ups and downs in the future, then the assumption that something very drastic is about to happen in the oil markets right about now might be very wrong.[/quote]

We have been on a bumpy plateau for, what… seven years?  This was exactly what was perdicted by all the specialist oil people who work on this.  The more fields you add up (regional, national, continental, global) the more noise is visible in the depletion curve, and you won’t get noisier than the global Hubbert Curve.  BUT, eventually, as the number of fields that peak out increase, the in rush of new stuff (deepwater or otherwise) can no longer compensate for the declining old fields, and I put it to you that if Ghawar (the world’s largest field in SA) tops out, as I suspect it now has, then it’s all over Rover.

I am almost 100% sure that the recent SPR release is entirely due to SA peaking out and being unable to meet the declines everywhere plus the stoppage in Lybia.

You also need to understand that PO by itself would not be a big deal if it wasn’t for that other E, the economy.  Without a growing, let alone a shrinking oil supply, growth cannot continue.  Without growth, debts cannot be serviced.  It’s not a problem for me, but it sure as hell is a problem for loads of other people.

What this site is all about is the convergence of everything, the perfect storm…….  IF we only had to deal with PO, I’m sure we could do it.  But we still have exponential growth in population and demand.  It’s all coming to a head.  Just like what happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia, Yemen and Syria.  watch this space, the malaise will spread everywhere, and if you can’t call that “something very drastic is about to happen”, then I don’t know what else you can call it.

Mike

  • Mon, Jun 27, 2011 - 02:52pm

    #6
    ewilkerson

    ewilkerson

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    Perhaps this will help a

Perhaps this will help a little.  I thought  I had the graph of US production.  When we peaked in 1970 at about 10m b/d we started into terminal decline.  We went on a drilling spree.  There are more holes in America than anywhere else in the world.  We discovered the North Slope at about 1.5m b/d and the Gulf of Mexico, and now Deepwater.  Nothing has been able to reverse the decline and bring us to a new peak.  There are blips and whatever but once 10m b/d starts to decline it take something like a Saudi Arabia to possibly reverse the decline.  The problem with that scenario is like Iraq.  They have plenty of oil but building the infrastructure to get enough online is impossible in a short enough period no matter what they say.  We are producing around 72m b/d world-wide of crude.  That means we are loosing at least 2m b/d per year in production.  If Iraq increases production to around 6m b/d between 2015 and 2020 that will have little affect on decline.  Even IHS CERA says they will be lucky to get to this point.

The problem is production rates.  The low hanging fruit is gone.  The only place we possibly could find giant fields is Deepwater, but their decline rares are more like 10%.

YOU JUST CAN’T CATCH UP WITH FALLING PRODUCTION WORLDWIDE.  iT’S LIKE TRYING TO CATCH A FALLING KNIFE.

Cheers,

Ernest

I’m not very good at putting graphs in so you’ll have to do without.  Sorry

 

 

 

  • Mon, Jun 27, 2011 - 03:14pm

    #7
    Marius Mollersen

    Marius Mollersen

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    ewilkerson wrote:YOU JUST

[quote=ewilkerson]

YOU JUST CAN’T CATCH UP WITH FALLING PRODUCTION WORLDWIDE.  iT’S LIKE TRYING TO CATCH A FALLING KNIFE.

[/quote]

I understand that you and many others fear this scenario, but there is just no evidence that production cannot stabilize or even rise in the future.

Of course, everything indicates that oil regenerates much slower than we consume it, so there will necessarily be a peak somwhere. But why exactly now?

  • Mon, Jun 27, 2011 - 03:30pm

    #8

    Aaron M

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    Question

[quote]I understand that you and many others fear this scenario, but there is just no evidence that production cannot stabilize or even rise in the future.

Of course, everything indicates that oil regenerates much slower than we consume it, so there will necessarily be a peak somwhere. But why exactly now?[/quote]

1. What would constitute evidence?
2. ERoEI

Have you watched the Crash Course?

Cheers,
Aaron

  • Mon, Jun 27, 2011 - 06:08pm

    #9
    ewilkerson

    ewilkerson

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    One hundred and fifty years

One hundred and fifty years of production statistics from wells, to fields, and onto countries all show the same.  Sure there are a couple trillion barrels in the ground. But  unless one of these Silicon Valley intellects comes up with a way to get it out, it will not happen.  You can wish all you want, but when super computers have mapped about every inch of the planet, and found no new easy oil, there is not much hope.  Fields don’t just start pumping more out of thin air.  The Saudis are pumping 7 million gallons of water a day into Gawhar just to keep it’s 4m b/d from plummeting, and most experts think it may be declining.

Good Day,

Ernest

  • Mon, Jun 27, 2011 - 06:22pm

    #10
    Doug

    Doug

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    Lotsa wells already built and producing

I look at it like this.  The number of producing wells increased for most of the 150 or so years we have been seriously burning oil, to the point that there are probably 100s of thousands of wells that have been or currently are in production.  There are two things (maybe more) that physically limit how many wells we can put in.  One is logistical.  We can only be drilling so many wells per unit of time.  We just don’t have the people, money or machinery to drill beyond whatever that number is.  And, that number becomes smaller as the oil becomes more difficult to reach.  It costs billions of dollars and lots of time to build one of the platforms like the Deep Water Horizon that blew up last year.  I don’t know how many wells can be sunk from one of those platforms, but it pales in comparison to land based wells when Ghawar was new and sitting on an ocean of oil.

The second limit is how many places we have to drill more.  As I understand it, the big fields have been found and are declining.  The chances of finding another giant field are becoming vanishing small.  And even if we do, its likely to be very hard to get to, or present technical difficulties in extraction, like the Bakken oil shale in Can. and northern US or the tar sands in Can.  Separating the oil from the geological structures that hold it is difficult and frequently involves environmental nightmares to get a very low eroei.

The way I visualize it, the production from wells that exist is declining faster than new wells can increase the amount of oil we can extract.  We would have to be drilling more wells per unit of time than we ever have to exceed the rate of decline from existing wells.  This is particularly true since each new well is unlikely to be able to produce the energy equivalent  that an older well produced.

That may not make sense to anyone else, but it does to me.

Doug

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