Is peak oil a myth?

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sundarb's picture
sundarb
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Is peak oil a myth?

http://www.theundergroundinvestor.com/2011/03/a-history-of-rigged-fraudulent-oil-prices-and-what-it-can-teach-us-about-gold-silver/

I know this strikes at the very heart of several aspects of the Crash Course.

But I am curious to know if people actually questioned whether oil is really a fossil-fuel?

Here's an excerpt from the link:

The interests of the oil majors, of their bankers and of the UK and US power circles because it is to their advantage that nobody else gets independent control of energy. Why? Because energy is the governor through which they essentially control the world economy. In preparation for this book and in the course of my research, I went back to the original guru of the Peak Oil movement, M. King Hubbard. And he was quite an interesting kook, literally, even a leading member of a US futurist technocratic society that at the time was accused of imitating Mussolini’s Black Shirts. King was a geologist for Shell Oil Company, and when he prepared his now famous paper in 1956, that he was to deliver at the annual meeting of the American Petroleum Society, he gave it first to his boss at Shell. And his boss told him: “I don’t care what you say to the geologists in your speech, King, as long as you don’t talk this nonsense that oil reserves are increasing.” Of course, he didn’t talk the nonsense. But if you read his original paper of 1956, there is no scientific argumentation, it’s simply assertion. And the assertion is all based on the idea that oil is a fossil fuel and is limited. Nowhere is that proven.

Well, the Russians under the mandate of Stalin in the early 1950′s got the best geophysical, physical and chemical academics in Russia and Ukraine in a top secret project together, that was classified highly secret because it was so strategic, and they looked at the scientific basis to explain what the origins of oil were. They looked at the theory of fossil origins, and after they dug deeply into the literature, they said that this is absolutely absurd, there is no scientific proof of this, there is no causality that’s been demonstrated, it’s just asserted in American geology textbooks in the University, and because it is repeated so many times nobody even bothers to question if oil is a fossil fuel or coal is a fossil fuel, which M. King Hubbard also pointed out in his paper. Because to be consistent, they have to say that oil, gas and coal are all fossil fuels.

Then someone made me the argument: if you were to take the single largest oil field of the world, Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, which was discovered in 1948 and calculate the barrels of oil that Ghawar has produced up to the present, and then you hypothetically imagine that you could convert, let’s say, a dead dinosaur, that you could take the biomass of that dinosaur, bones included, 100 per cent, one to one to petroleum, which of course no one would argue is possible, but just to hypothesize, that you would require a cube of compressed dinosaur detritus or remains that is 19 miles wide, 19 miles high and 19 miles deep—only to account for that one huge oil field in Saudi Arabia. And that is to say nothing of the Permian Basin oil reservoir in Texas or the East Texas oil fields, which are vast oil fields. So then I began to really question this Hubbert peak oil hypothesis very seriously.

The Russians, with whom I later was in touch, said: “We think there is a different origin, and if you look at volcanoes, you come closer to the truth.” Their hypothesis at that point – now it’s been amply proven, even by the Carnegie Institution in Washington in independent experiments where they brought in some of the Russian scientists to consult with them – is that oil is created under the pressure and the temperature existing in the earth mantle.

Imagine that the core of the earth is a giant, gigantic nuclear reactor or if you look at a cut-away of a volcano in a geology museum you can get a good conceptual image for this, and this giant oven deep in the Earth mantle is spewing out matter at enormous temperatures and pressures constantly, and a volcano erupts because somehow the earth, which is constantly in motion, it’s constantly expanding minimally over time, creates cracks and fissures. We saw that with tragic consequences in the early part of 2010 in Haiti, where three major tectonic plates collide and diverge over the Port-au-Prince area. And also near Cuba – and that allows these volcanic eruptions to press up towards the surface and create mountains or volcanoes in certain cases. And if you trace the volcanic ring of fire in the Pacific and look at a map of the tectonic plates, you will find a fascinating correlation there.

So the Russians said: “This must have something to do with the origins of petroleum.” It comes deep from within the bowels of the earth and through these geophysical ruptures, cracks or faults or whatever you want to call them – the Russians call it migration channels—like you have in the Gulf of Mexico. There BP evidently hit a huge migration channel that went very, very deep and they were not expecting that, so the whole thing went completely out of control – the oil is being constantly generated, and what you have to do is look for where it comes closest to the surface.

Now, that is not an easy thing, but it is certainly a scientifically based thing, and as I said: several very rigorous peer-reviewed international scientific experiments have been conducted that demonstrate the creation of hydrocarbons in laboratory conditions under the temperature and pressure conditions that you have in the earth mantle. This is granite rock that we are talking about, so it’s not the so called sedimentary rock near the surface, where the dinosaur remains are said to be buried, no, it’s far, far deeper.

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Damnthematrix
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This site has already developed a wealth of information

Not this again......  Can I respectfully suggest to new members that before they start a new thread, especially on Peak Oil, that they search the archives of this site?  There's a google window at the very top right hand side of this window.

If you type "abiotic oil" there you will get this result:

Endless Oil? - Current News & Events - Forums at Chris Martenson

Under the so-called abiotic theory of oil, finding all the energy we need ...
The abiotic oil theory goes back centuries and includes as its ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/forum/endless-...

Robert McFarlane: Open Fuel Standards Are Critical To Fighting the ...

25 Feb 2011 ... As I indicated, the issue of abiotic oil has been debated in many forums,
including here, and I have no interest in it at this time. ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/blog/robert-mc...

Robert McFarlane: Open Fuel Standards Are Critical To Fighting the ...

25 Feb 2011 ... As I stated in my earlier posts --- McFarlane has omitted telling you anything
about abiotic oil -- he definitely had security clearance to ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/blog/robert-mc...

Robert McFarlane: Open Fuel Standards Are Critical To Fighting the ...

25 Feb 2011 ... The abiotic oil formation theory suggests that crude oil is the result of
naturally occurring and possibly ongoing geological processes. ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/blog/robert-mc...

PEAK OIL A HOAX - Chapter 17a: Peak Oil - Forums at Chris Martenson

For example, even if oil is abiotic (or if some oil is abiotic) the ... So even
if there's abiotic oil in deep reserves that would increase ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/forum/peak-oil...

Robert mcfarlane: Open Fuel Standards Are Critical To Fighting the ...

25 Feb 2011 ... We even have abiotic oil proponents here. I would have thought regular visitors
here would have realised that the next 20 years will be ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/blog/robert-mc...

PEAK OIL A HOAX - Chapter 17a: Peak Oil - Forums at Chris Martenson

Here's a discussion about abiotic oil from Ugo Bardi: ... In summary, I think so
-called abiotic oil is nothing more than a red herring that ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/forum/peak-oil...

PEAK OIL A HOAX - Chapter 17a: Peak Oil - Forums at Chris Martenson

Abiotic oil is a theory that has very little support outside of Russia. Failing
to take action on peak oil because of a belief that oil ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/forum/peak-oil...

PEAK OIL A HOAX - Chapter 17a: Peak Oil - Forums at Chris Martenson

"Whilst I have difficulty in accepting the abiotic oil theory, it is not
impossible to turn gas into oil. Indeed this is done in oil ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/forum/peak-oil...

PEAK OIL A HOAX - Chapter 17a: Peak Oil - Forums at Chris Martenson

For me to be convinced, personally, that Abiotic oil is viable or for that
matter that Peak oil is a hoax I'd need to read an article in ...

www.PeakProsperity.com/forum/peak-oil...
sundarb's picture
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Big fonts unnecessary

Thanks for the tip.

Clicking on the links doesn't work...but I will search and find out.

Not really sure if the topic riled you up too much that you had to use big fonts to reply.

Won't proceed with this discussion anymore as it is clear that this is not the place, because it has already been discussed too much.

There is also a very high chance that I'll run into confirmation bias.

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Big Fonts Not Deliberate, Abiotic Oil A Hoax
sundarb wrote:

Thanks for the tip.

Clicking on the links doesn't work...but I will search and find out.

Not really sure if the topic riled you up too much that you had to use big fonts to reply.

Won't proceed with this discussion anymore as it is clear that this is not the place, because it has already been discussed too much.

There is also a very high chance that I'll run into confirmation bias.

Sundarb:

I think it's just copying and pasting of text from another web site. I find I often have to paste the title of something I want to share, into NotePad, then copy it from NotePad into here, in order to get rid of the formatting. But not everyone does it. Also, if links don't work, I suggest you use your awesome Google-fu skillz 4 teh win!

That said, if there were really lots of oil and we'll never run out, that's a lot of petroleum geologists and corporations and governments and engineers and scientists who would be wrong. Now, while we here tend to be anti-establishment thinking, that doesn't mean we don't apply science and logic and critical thinking to the issues at hand.

Sadly, abiotic oil theory is just not factual, and even volcanologists will tell you so.

Poet

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Is Peak Oil Real? A List of Countries Past Peak

Sundarb,

This link from the Oil Drum is a helpful read.

~ VF ~

sundarb's picture
sundarb
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thanks Poet and Vanity

As I see it, there's too much discussion around and I don't want to get bogged down by disinformation.

I'll read and learn more.

Thanks for the links and pointers.

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Arithmetic, Population and Energy ~ by Dr Albert A. Bartlett
sundarb wrote:

As I see it, there's too much discussion around and I don't want to get bogged down by disinformation.

I'll read and learn more.

Thanks for the links and pointers.

Sundarb,

I've been in that place where you sit right now. I know it isn't a comfortable place to be, and I hope you know how much I empathise with you. One of the best books to read about peak oil in my honest opinion, was written by Richard Heinberg and called The Party's Over. You can read roughly the first 60 pages of it if you click on this link here to its preview at Google Books.

I also found these two documentaries and this lecture below most helpful also : -

Crude Awakening

Farms For The Future

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2750012006939737230#

Arithmetic, Population and Energy ~ by Dr Albert A. Bartlett

Take Care,

~ VF ~

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sundarb
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Thanks

Vanity,

I bought the book recently and I have read a few pages. It is very interesting.

But quite a few concepts in learning about the economy is taking my time and I need to find time to read the Heinberg book.

Thanks for the videos, I'll watch it when I have time.

 

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Sundarb, Even if Abiotic Oil Theory Were True...

Sundarb

Even if Abiotic Oil Theory were true (which it is not)... Under that theory, well it's not coming up to the surface of the earth fast enough!

Just look at the chart below from Dr. Albert Bartlett (retired Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Colorado, at Boulder), from his famous lecture on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.

This is the killer picture. It shows what we're up to as a human population growing exponentially (so far having added a billion people every 12 to 14 years since 1960), therefore requiring exponential growth in the consumption of natural resources, therefore requiring exponential growth in the discovery and extraction of natural resources - like oil.

Behold! Exhibit A.

Chart by Dr. Albert Bartlett illustrating the world exponential need for more and more oil each decade.

Guess how much oil we need to discover to extract in the years 2010 to 2011. Yep, a new area equal to A-B-F-E, or the entire rectangle above.

Civilization is going to drastically change with declining oil supply to meet expanding oil demand. It is already drastically changing now.

For anyone who thinks we can change 7 billion people voluntarily, I present you Exhibit B.

Cartoon of rabbits in a boat from CartoonStock with the caption of I am only gonna say this one more time. Our only chance is self-control.

Poet

 

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Is peak oil a myth?

Sundarb,

we love open inquiry here yet it needs to be pointed out that this subject of abiotic oil still needs someone to raise it using facts, logic and a lack of emotional content.  By way of example, let me begin with just the very first opening sentence of the linked content you posted:

The interests of the oil majors, of their bankers and of the UK and US power circles because it is to their advantage that nobody else gets independent control of energy.

First, this is not a complete sentence, so it lost me right off the bat.  

Second, assuming we mentally fill in the blanks, it has no less than three beliefs which are impossible to factually represent or verify contained within it.  The first is that the interests of the bankers, oil majors and USUK power circles are aligned, the second is that oil somehow represents the entire universe of 'energy' and the third is that 'nobody' else besides these interests has independent control.

This requires us to accept a view of the world where tightly interlocking interests have control and are in control and nobody else gets to play.  That's quite a lot for an opening sentence.

Point being, anyone who cannot write and separate their facts, opinions, beliefs and supposition about a subject as factual and important as energy, is not deserving of our time and attention.  Let's see someone do the whole abiotic thing with facts only.  Personally?  I have not yet seen anybody come close.

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Re: Is Peak Oil a Myth?

Hi Sundarb,

I propose that it's not necessary for us to argue about how oil is generated.  Sure, let's say that oil has an abiotic origin.  Or maybe oil is generated by the breakdown of organic matter.  Maybe both.  Maybe neither.

However oil gets there, we're using it up faster than it's being made.  

The world oil supply is nothing but a giant collection of individual oil fields.  And every oil field that has been tapped long enough has eventually dried up.  The oil country in Pennsylvania, where the first oil was discovered . . . we've pumped it dry.  Most of the early fields in Texas have become unproductive.  All of these many individual fields are in the hands of private owners who can tell you what happens to them.

The entire point of the 3E's is that modern economy requires an exponential increase in energy inputs.  A steady (even abiotic) supply isn't good enough.

So even if we assume that oil has a steady source of repleneshment (like trees, or fish, or topsoil), that's not good enough.  Our use of energy is exponentially increasing, and must continue increasing if we are to avoid economic convulsions.  If there is an abiotic source to oil, it's not exponentially increasing along with our consumption.  That spells trouble.

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fairness conflict

Poet,

I do understand the overall arc of the finite resources vs. the infinite growth paradigm as Chris has outlined in the Crash Course. As a result there will be a definite decline in standard of living in the United States.

But there is such a thing as fairness conflict.

http://www.noe21.org/solutions/

According to the above website, the maximum carbon emissions the earth can take at a sustainable rate is 2 Giga tons / year. They say this would work out 1 tonne of carbon emission per capita per year. With 6.91 billion people, that actually works out to be less than that, but for now - let's say this is true. For a person in Bangladesh, this is 0.5 tonnes/ year. For a person in Europe, the same number is 7 tonnes. For United States, lo and behold - 22 tonnes. This is outright staggering and obviously unsustainable. So I completely agree that the industrial lifestyle based on cheap energy in the US is unsustainable and with the lack of cheap energy, there is bound to be a standard of living decline. Definitely explains why there is tremendous political interest for the US on oil-rich nations.

Why I am bringing up this fairness conflict is because "an exponential population growth" does not directly require an exponential increase in the available resources, because of the unfair distribution that already exists. 

Sure there is additional pressure definitely, but the resource availability problem doesn't automatically become exponential as well, because not everyone in the world consumes at the same rate.

Nevertheless, I appreciate your response. My original post concerning abiotic fuel was definitely not to stoke an argument supporting infinite growth. 

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Connecting the dots

Chris,

I completely understand your point on the lack of rigorous scientific evidence to support such a abiotic fuel theory

However on the line you pointed out where the topic lost you, it is impossible to represent or verify the statement factually. This is no different from the on-going nuclear disaster in Japan, which TEPCO has some powerful interests to cover up. I just recently read a link on ZH which said that the severity has been raised to level 6 on the nuclear  disaster scale. So obviously, TEPCO and the Japanese Government engaged in not disclosing the required information for enough safety measures to be taken, because of their business self-interest. 

In your initial article on the nuclear disaster, you admitted that there was some speculation on your part that the disaster is far worse than what is being reported and it turned out to be right. Was it possible to prove then? It is impossible, because there is too much power to cover up facts.

To me, it is fairly obvious that the Western nations (which includes United States and its allies - France, UK, Italy) had a powerful vested interest in oil, because of which they all engaged in a coalition to bomb Libya. Now can this be factually proven? - Of course not now, because of propaganda. Will facts emerge in future that may establish this premise? Sure, I think so. Iraq is an excellent example to prove this point. Were there really weapons of mass destruction that the US found after the Iraq invasion? 

This establishes the first belief that the Western nations' power circles are aligned. Whether the Western banking oligarchy exerts its influence over the politicians is super obvious. Financial deregulation, outright fraud using the securitization food chain and Credit Default Swaps are all facts to prove that the financial elite made massive private gains and transferred the losses to the public. (Inside Job has excellent proof for this). The financial industry literally has Washington in its pockets. Not even a single person in the financial industry has been prosecuted for this fraud. Why exactly? Even the Justice system has been skewed to make it work for the powerful private bankers. [ Matt Taibi's article http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-isnt-wall-street-in-jail-20110216 explains this very well].

On the second belief, I don't think the statement directly implies that oil represents the entire universe of 'energy'. It definitely does represent the 'cheap energy' that enables 'industrialized nations lifestyle'. Doesn't it? I mean without oil - we can't have industrial agriculture, transportation networks and the Western lifestyle as we know it today. 

The third belief is merely an extension/extrapolation based on the first two, in the sense that if the first and the second were true - it follows that the Western financial elite will not want to lose control over who gets to play in the cheap energy market. 

In summary, while I subscribe to your view that facts should be separated from opinions and beliefs, the lines do get blurred because of the massive amount of disinformation, media propaganda, manufactured consent. So at some level -- we have to really question even the facts that are presented towards us, because they can also be at worst, outright lies or at best, dubious facts depending on the originating source.

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Love these types of debates

OK,

First, let me say that I don't work in the energy industry nor have any ties to it other than the weekly homage I pay to it when I fill the fuel tank of my car.

Second, I wish that I was better at, and had the time for serious research into both peak oil and abiotic oil theories.

From my arm chair position, I see two different arguments here. There is some merit in that, if one looks into exactly how many "dead dinosaurs" it would take to fill a given oil field,  (sounds like there should be a punch-line coming) there is a break down in logic that oil is a "fossil fuel". Now let me also explain that I am using the "dead dinosaur"  label to be defined as all rotting organic matter. SO, when I say dead dinosaur please understand that I mean the hypothesized origin of oil and its counterparts coal and natural gas from rotting organic material... kinda like a huge compost pile if you will.

On the other hand, if oil is constantly being made and "pushed up" from the bowels of the earth, as in the volcano theory, how come oil fields run dry? Again, "dry" being defined as not producing enough to warrant continued pumping. Of course they could be just "puddles" that have been cut off from main fissures of supply - there are also many other scenarios that can be thought of as well. But, for the sake of argument, that is what has happened.

Another leap of faith is that it has taken millions of years to "make" all of the oil that we have found and used thus far. No matter if its origin is from dead dinosaurs or.... lets call it volcano sludge. If that is true, and I don't know because I haven't lived that long even though it feels that way some mornings, we simply have used up half of millions of years of "production" in the matter of... what... a little over a century? 

So, if it has taken millions of years to make (decompose) what we have already used in about a century... I'd say we "screwed the pooch" on that one. - But wait, oil isn't being made by rotting flesh and weeds... it has been made by our own blast furnace and pressure cooker! Yeah! Oh, wait, again, it has taken millions of years to "push-up" close enough to the surface for us to get at - all that we have used in just a century. Crap...

I know, it hasn't really taken millions of years, it has only taken say... a few hundred... no, even less, lets say 200 years. Kinda like a distillation plant, using the earth to heat and compress... stuff... to have the "distilled " goodies bubble up to the top where we can sip them off with a straw. Yeah! We are saved - yes? The "good" spots will refill with oil as long as we wait long enough for the batch to be ready.

Lets do the math, 200 years to cook what we have used in 100 years, understanding that there is continual production "somewhere" during that 100 years so there is 50% back, yet we are using it up exponentially... Crap! We are still using it up faster than it is being made.

Unless of course, all of those "dead" fields aren't really dead, Mexico is really not pumping past capacity, the Arabs really won't open up the spigot, the north sea really isn't past prime, Texas is just waiting for the chance to pump more oil again. That's it! It is a global conspiracy! That does define the argument for abiotic oil. If that is true, how come the "oil experts" have been "over predicting" the production of oil? Why has there been a plateauing of production instead? Maybe they are just waiting the 50-100 years until the cup "fills up" again. But, that will only give us back what we have already used, not what future demand will be.

Now hold on a minute there big C... You said we "used it ALL up". We haven't, by all estimates, we have used up less than HALF of the current oil supply. What does your theory have to say about that?? All I can say about that is the following:

No matter where the oil came from, or what it is made from, either way, we have a resource that we are using up faster than it is being made.

 

C.

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I would just wonder which

I would just wonder which oil giant's payrole he is on?  I hope water will run his car.

ewilkerson's picture
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I would just wonder which

I would just wonder which oil giant's payrole he is on?  I hope water will run his car.

sundarb's picture
sundarb
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What?

ewilkerson,

if you're talking about me, I'm not on any oil giant's payroll. 

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sundarb
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I see your point

RNCarl,

As I said in my previous replies, I do not contest a competition between finite resources and infinite growth model.

Thanks for your detailed reply though.

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Re: Connecting the dots
sundarb wrote:

To me, it is fairly obvious that the Western nations (which includes United States and its allies - France, UK, Italy) had a powerful vested interest in oil, because of which they all engaged in a coalition to bomb Libya. Now can this be factually proven? - Of course not now, because of propaganda. Will facts emerge in future that may establish this premise? Sure, I think so. Iraq is an excellent example to prove this point. Were there really weapons of mass destruction that the US found after the Iraq invasion? 

No, no, my point here is that proving something like an abiotic theory of oil production does not and should not require us to stray anywhere near potential political motivations about which we must rest upon opinions and beliefs.  Instead, it should be a matter of science.

In the Fukushima incident I have been speculating about the true condition of the plants based upon the information that has both been provided and not provided.  Yes, I operate from a belief that the Japanese officials cannot be trusted but that only serves to prompt me all the harder to find what facts I can.  I don't spend any time trying to convince anyone as to why I happen to not trust authorities in these situations, people can draw their own conclusions and form their own ideas.  

A glowing fissure tells me that temperatures are not 100 Celsius as claimed by officials and I-134 tells me that fissions has restarted.  Nothing in there requires you to share my opinion of the veracity of Japanese officials as a starting point for the case I am trying ot make.

One rule of mine is that if someone's argument begins by building upon a bed of belief, then my time is better spent elsewhere because two dangers exist; the first is that I won't 'get' their argument because I do not share their belief and the second is that I will accept their argument because I do.  Neither is helpful.

To argue, as some do, that abiotic oil might be real because it is in the interests of the powers that be to cover up such a reality is a massive error in logical reasoning.  It is an emotional tug, not a fact-based or testable hypothesis.

Again, still waiting for the facts on the abiotic hypothesis....haven't seen 'em yet.

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Peak Oil vs. End To Practical Extraction For Mass Consumption

Actually, peak oil is when total oil production has peaked or reached a plateau. It will never increase again, but instead declines.

What you speak of, when "the cost of extraction and refining of things being exceeds the price it gets the open market" is when practical production ceases altogether because there is no more reason to produce at the scale. A hundred years out, you may very well find teams of humans and animals working a pumpjack (nodding donkey) well because medical grade plastics, pesticide, ointments, and fuel for certain rich people's vehicles will require crude. Oil wells drilled in Los Angeles County in 1932 are still producing a few million barrels per year.

Poet

martinnman wrote:

Peak oil, economists say, is the point at which oil production ceiling: they are easily accessible reserves have disappeared, and the cost of extraction and refining of things being exceeds the price it gets the open market. After the peak, the theory, production begins to fall.

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