Improbable bell curve

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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.

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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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

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something very drastic is about to happen
mariusm98 wrote:

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.

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

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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

 

 

 

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ewilkerson wrote: YOU JUST
ewilkerson wrote:

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

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?

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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?

1. What would constitute evidence?
2. ERoEI

Have you watched the Crash Course?

Cheers,
Aaron

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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

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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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Alpha Mike wrote: 1. What
Alpha Mike wrote:

1. What would constitute evidence?

2. ERoEI

Have you watched the Crash Course?

Cheers,
Aaron

1. I cannot even imagine, considering the future is very unpredictable, including what enormous geological research is still to be done to rule out the existence of comercially viable oil in every single region around the globe. And technological advance on top of that. A good indication that the bell curve is for real would be if we start declining along it, and new oil discoveries declining in parallel. Of course, then it would be "too late", but we can't just accept any theory thrown out from the sheer size of the worst-case-scenario it gives us, without looking at the propbability for its happening.

2. Whatever that means in plain English...

I am reading the Crash Course, at 18 now.

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I guess facts do not really

I guess facts do not really matter on this thread.  Believe what you shall.  That is the nice thing about freedom.  I could name you several Major Oil Companies which have decided that exploration is a waste of money.  They have decided to go out of business by developing their present resources, buy back billions of dollars of stock, pay down debt, and increase dividends.  Corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, so they are doing what they believe is in the shareholders best interest.  I am tired of this.  Do some reseaarch.  Ernest

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That...

What Ernest said.

ERoEI = Energy returned over Energy Invested.

I think you're taking the parts and failing to see how the sum equals disaster.
The combination of events is greater than the sum of its parts. Reference Dr. Bartlett for my reasosn why.
Dr. Martenson's layout identifies the interaction and the factual happenings with energy/economy/environment.

While there's nothing that specifically states: "This is the fact that unlocks global catastrophe!"
The prudent thing is to evaluate the presented material, verify its authenticity and veracity and then draw your own conclusions.

Geological discoveries may unveil an unbelievable amount of oil - for the reason this is still unsustainable, please reference Dr. Bartlett:
http://old.globalpublicmedia.com/node/461

The "Arithmetic" may seem sound, but we're not dealing with problems that are increasing arithmetically - they're increasing exponentially.
What exactly are you having a hard time verifying?
Cheers,

Aaron

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mariusm98 wrote: Alpha Mike
mariusm98 wrote:
Alpha Mike wrote:

Have you watched the Crash Course?

I am reading the Crash Course, at 18 now.

GOOD.  The CC does the best job of any I have ever come across of explaining Peak Oil.  In particular, the section on energy budgeting is a MUST UNDERSTAND bit.....  that graph with all the red and green ink is what needs to get under your skin, even if you have to watch it twice or more...

Mike

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ewilkerson wrote:  I could
ewilkerson wrote:

 I could name you several Major Oil Companies which have decided that exploration is a waste of money.  They have decided to go out of business by developing their present resources, buy back billions of dollars of stock, pay down debt, and increase dividends. 

Please name a few. This would be breaking news for me and everyone I know. 

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Conoco and Devon Energy. 

Conoco and Devon Energy.  They do not say it outright but look at their actions over the last few years.  Actually,Conoco specifically stated that, "They were going to sell 20 billion of their ancillary assets, concentrate on their core assets, pay down debt, and pay more to shareholders.  That is a statement that further exploration is useless, so let's get the most out of what we know we have....Ernest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ewilkerson wrote: Conoco and
ewilkerson wrote:

Conoco and Devon Energy.  They do not say it outright but look at their actions over the last few years.  Actually,Conoco specifically stated that, "They were going to sell 20 billion of their ancillary assets, concentrate on their core assets, pay down debt, and pay more to shareholders.  That is a statement that further exploration is useless, so let's get the most out of what we know we have....Ernest

It sure makes it hard to believe when they don't say these things outright. Why wouldn't they?

Your statement from Conoco (ConocoPhillips, I presume) doesn't define "ancilliary assets", but I wouldn't be surprised if they consider oil exploration one of their "core assets". Here is a small stub from their website:

"At year-end 2009, ConocoPhillips had exploration activities in 15 countries and produced hydrocarbons in 13, with proved reserves in three additional countries."

http://www.conocophillips.com/EN/about/worldwide_ops/major_businesses/exploration/Pages/index.aspx

The information is 18 months old, but it unambiguously states that ConocoPhillips is looking for new oil.

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more Kunstler
By the by, many observers were amused by last week's cute trick of releasing sixty million barrels of oil from the world's strategic reserves at the rate of two million-a-day in an effort to pretend that the world doesn't have a basic oil production problem. It is, of course, at the bottom of the world's financial disarray, because if you can't increase energy inputs that feed an industrial economy you don't get growth and then the whole idea of compound interest falls apart because it is predicated on a perpetual increase in wealth.  Hence, debt collapses in on itself. The world is caught up in an epochal contraction now, and it manifests in situations like the Greek emergency. But soon it will be a universal emergency.
     The lesson, if I may be tendentious for moment, is that the human race is welcome at any time to begin living differently, at a smaller scale, much more locally, with fewer automatic machines doing all the work for us, and more time spent on useful and necessary activities than on television fantasies. Got a problem with oil? Don't imagine that you're going to run WalMart - or, for that matter, Goldman Sachs - on wheat-straw distillates. Something is in the air this week and it is making a lot of people very nervous. If you loaded up the old investment portfolio with shale gas stocks, I feel especially sorry for you.

 

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Difficult extraction means higher prices

Difficult extraction means higher prices

A major part to understanding the outlook for the oil price lies in the cost of extracting an extra barrel of the stuff. In short, this ‘marginal cost of production’ has been rising significantly. The cost of producing a barrel of oil in well-established Middle East fields is as low as $20. However, the cost of eking out a barrel from the oil sands in Canada or from the deep water off the shore of Nigeria is estimated to be anywhere between $70 and $100 a barrel; harsher regulations and stricter safety measures in the wake of the BP oil spill could push up this range further.

Over time, the price of oil should approach its marginal cost. If it is lower, producers will simply cut exploration and production to avoid losing money. Significantly, at the current level of oil price (above $100 a barrel of Brent), the major oil companies are able to put much needed capital expenditure to work on projects that would not have been commercial at lower prices. It is revealing to note that despite a significant lag time before they pay off, large projects in more challenging fields are being undertaken, suggesting that industry executives believe the longer-term outlook for the oil price is also positive.

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mariusm98

marium,  I should have said they are exploring and developing their core assets, but not spending much effort looking in new regions and were selling off 20 billion of their ancillary assets.  One of the main reasons is that the ERoEI on these assets is not high enough to return an acceptable level to their shareholders.  What they are doing is concentrating on the core assets which will provide an acceptable return and further developing those fields they have.  This is essentially what is at the heart of Peak Oil.  I strongly suggest that you watch the Crash Course as it explains all of this very well..  I have tried to help you understand.  I must not be a good teacher.

Best of luck in your further education on these issues.

Ernest


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I have completed the crash

I have completed the crash course, and I have read other supports for "global peak oil", including this thread, but I find it totally unconvincing.

 

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Cool

Then there isn't much more for you here.

Cheers,

Aaron

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Just Curious
mariusm98 wrote:

I have completed the crash course, and I have read other supports for "global peak oil", including this thread, but I find it totally unconvincing.

What specifically do you contest and on what evidence or data are you forming the counter opinion?

Looking back over the thread, you never really answered the questions about EROEI, but instead denominated oil extraction/production in terms of money.  You do realize that the EROEI curves strip out the dollar cost of extraction?  Or are you saying that we are counting on as yet undeveloped or unproven technologies to restore the previous EREOI margins?

We'd much rather see the evidence of this technological improvement rather than your hope and assurance that some new technology will save us.

Look what happened the last time a bunch of chowderheads signed up for "Hope and Change"....

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mariusm98 wrote: I have
mariusm98 wrote:

I have completed the crash course, and I have read other supports for "global peak oil", including this thread, but I find it totally unconvincing.

Then I guess you, your McMansion, and your Lincoln Navigator will live happily ever after.  

Good luck -- Sager

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Then I guess you need to

Then I guess you need to reasearch some of the people on YouTube such as Matt Simmons, Colin Campbell, etc.  There is a great lecture by Tim Hudson which is about 45 minutes, but he does it in a style I think might be suitable for you.  It was interesting for me to watch.

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This ASPO aricle is a few

This ASPO aricle is a few years old, but does an excellent job of explaining the situation we're in.  It is a former engineer from Saudi ARAMCO.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote: What
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

What specifically do you contest and on what evidence or data are you forming the counter opinion?

Looking back over the thread, you never really answered the questions about EROEI, but instead denominated oil extraction/production in terms of money.  You do realize that the EROEI curves strip out the dollar cost of extraction?  Or are you saying that we are counting on as yet undeveloped or unproven technologies to restore the previous EREOI margins?

I am forming my counter opinion on lack of evidence. The bell curve and our being near its top is possible, but so is another peak later on, or virtually any other variation of the supply curve. The bell curve makes all possible sense with little or no technological progress. Oherwise not.

As for the "EROEI" I find it rather on the side of the bell curve. It is indeed an interesting phenomenon that some oil (or other energy supply) takes a lot of energy to render it usable for the modern society, but we might as well coin this in currency. If a barrell of oil sells at 100 dollars, there is no (commercial) point in extracting it if the cost is higher than that. On the other hand distribution of oil must have become increasingly cheaper (or more energy efficient) over the last century, which should counter for at least some of the rise in extraction cost.

We are indeed counting on undeveloped or unproven technologies for numerous future challenges, so why not oil extraction? It is a fact that wells are being drilled at ever greater depths. It is totally unlikely that this trend does not continue, and that the technology does not get cheaper once it proliferates.

 

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The old known unknowns slant.....
mariusm98 wrote:
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

What specifically do you contest and on what evidence or data are you forming the counter opinion?

Looking back over the thread, you never really answered the questions about EROEI, but instead denominated oil extraction/production in terms of money.  You do realize that the EROEI curves strip out the dollar cost of extraction?  Or are you saying that we are counting on as yet undeveloped or unproven technologies to restore the previous EREOI margins?

I am forming my counter opinion on lack of evidence. The bell curve and our being near its top is possible, but so is another peak later on, or virtually any other variation of the supply curve. The bell curve makes all possible sense with little or no technological progress. Oherwise not.

As for the "EROEI" I find it rather on the side of the bell curve. It is indeed an interesting phenomenon that some oil (or other energy supply) takes a lot of energy to render it usable for the modern society, but we might as well coin this in currency. If a barrell of oil sells at 100 dollars, there is no (commercial) point in extracting it if the cost is higher than that. On the other hand distribution of oil must have become increasingly cheaper (or more energy efficient) over the last century, which should counter for at least some of the rise in extraction cost.

We are indeed counting on undeveloped or unproven technologies for numerous future challenges, so why not oil extraction? It is a fact that wells are being drilled at ever greater depths. It is totally unlikely that this trend does not continue, and that the technology does not get cheaper once it proliferates.

 

So to paraphrase your answer concisely - you are hoping that as yet undiscovered technology will ride up on a white stallion and save us?  To much time in a Hopium den in Bombay I think.

I just don't know what to say about the "absence of proof is proof of absence" argument. 

It only works until it doesn't.

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Lack of Evidence

Dude - you realize that "Lack of Evidence" denotes that you hold some special authority to dismiss issues based on your infallible knowledge, right?

What exactly is this special knowledge?
That you "find it rather" uncompelling? If that's the case, and you can present no evidence to counter the literal mounds of evidence being presented here - go troll elsewhere! Simple!

If you *do not* possess some special knowledge - which you should promptly impart, if you do - you need to rebut Dr. Martensons Positions with evidence. Imagine that! You can do this (as was done in the Crash Course) with reputable, credible sources and information. Not your hunches, not your inclination, not because "meh, you're just not convinced".

If that's the case - please, please, please - spend your valuable time elsewhere so we can continue to discuss important issues.
I, for one, would *love* to see a strong case against peak oil. If you have one, bring it on and we'll discuss.

If not, stop trolling for attention here.

Cheers,

Aaron 

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mariusm98,  Please go argue

mariusm98,  Please go argue with yourself in the mirror or fill your Mercedes.  I was told by a wise man once, "Who is more ignorant?  The person who will never understand, or the person who continues to try to educate them?"  I had to find a polite way to put that.

Ernest

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Here is an example of peak

Here is an example of peak together with no-peak. The text is in Norwegian, but the chart itself should be easy to interpret, consisting of the seven largest Norwegian oil fields + "all the others together":

http://nn.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Norsk_oljeproduksjon_pr_aar_pr_felt.png

As we clearly can see, the total Norwegian production is very similar to a bell curve (until now, that is), but individual fields have other characteristics, most notably the Ekofisk, which has had two distinct peaks this far. We can also note that the "tails" of other fields stretch surprisingly far from the peak, which could distort the "bell" form of the curve.

As to my pointing at lack of evidence, this is, of course, not supporting any particular theory about oil production, or anything else for that matter. I just find it hard to believe Chris' peak oil theory as long as the indications are not stronger.

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