No Peak Now?

Monbiot has given up on Peak Oil:

The facts have changed, now we must change too. For the past 10 years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner.


Peak oil hasn't happened, and it's unlikely to happen for a very long time.

A report by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that.


There is enough oil in the ground to deep-fry the lot of us, and no obvious means to prevail upon governments and industry to leave it in the ground. Twenty years of efforts to prevent climate breakdown through moral persuasion have failed, with the collapse of the multilateral process at Rio de Janeiro last month. The world's most powerful nation is again becoming an oil state, and if the political transformation of its northern neighbour is anything to go by, the results will not be pretty.

But The Oil Drum says that the Harvard study is flawed:

So, there now comes an Energy Study from Harvard which boldly states that this is rubbish - that by 2020, global production will be at 110.6 mbd and these concerns that most of us have at The Oil Drum (inter alia) are chimeras of the imagination.


The amount of oil in the region tapped by the well is finite, and when it is gone it is gone, whether from a vertical well that shows gradual decline with time, or from the horizontal well that holds the production level until the water hits the well and it stops. I am not sure that the author of the report understands this.


The report further seems a little confused on how horizontal wells work in these reservoirs. As Aramco has noted, one cannot keep drilling longer and longer holes and expect the well production to double with that increase in length. Because of the need to maintain differential pressures between the reservoir and the well, there are optimal lengths for any given formation. And as I have also noted, the report flies in the face of the data on field production from the deeper wells of the Gulf of Mexico.


Anonymous said...

It's not just oil in question though. It's the gas we can obtain from fracking. We can easily jigger gas to replace the function of oil. Basically, when Thomas Friedman asks if America could be joining OPEC soon as an energy exporting nation, then I know I've got to pause and have a long hard look at all my previous arguments and assumptions, and do a *lot* more reading.


Problem is, I'm too busy and too exhausted to even consider that right now.

The Arthurian said...

"The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology."

I think that is exactly right. Maybe I should say I don't know anything about oil except, obviously, the supply is finite. But I know that the world's troubles over the past 10 years, or more, had more to do with money than anything else. Money and debt, and the rise of finance.

Make that 30 years or more.