Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Peak Oil Doom: Is It Logical?

A large number of websites are devoted to the idea that western civilisation is doomed by "Peak Oil." The Oil Drum is one of the most popular such sites, and you can find many others on their blogroll. The definition for Peak Oil appears to change as predictions from the old definitions inevitably fail.

To understand the reality behind Peak Oil better, here are two well reasoned analyses:

Michael Lynch "Crop Circles in the Desert" PDF
... the number of drilling rigs in Saudi Arabia is not very different from what it was three decades ago. The increase seen in the last 20 years reflects rising production and the need to offset depletion, plus the recent expansion program. Andnote that the U.S. industry is currently employing 1,400 rigs, more than40 times as many as Saudi Arabia.76 Thus, in order to believe the thesis that Saudi oil output is near a peak, it is necessary to believe that production costs will soar and productivity decline in a manner never seen before, contradicting both resource economics and industry experience. Incremental change is the norm, particularly when dealing with large numbers, and the possibility that costs could become prohibitive in the short term due to depletion is essentially absurd.

Robert Rapier "Reflections on the Saudi Wars"
If you simply rationalize away wrong predictions, you will likely continue to make them. But I have also learned that people using shoddy analyses to make predictions are also unlikely to own up to failed predictions. There appears to be a strong correlation between them embracing shoddy analyses that gives them the "right" answers - and rationalizing when the "right" answers turn out to be wrong.

Two recent news stories relevant to peak oil:

Fears of Oil Depletion are Exaggerated
"Assuming an extraction rate of 35 per cent, the Arab oil deposits in place could reach 2,738 billion barrels. This means the oil quantities that cannot be extracted by present technology are around 1,809 billion barrels, which are nearly 645 billion barrels above the world's proven oil resources. These quantities, if they can be extracted, will meet the world needs for 60 years.

Peak Oil: Are We There Yet?
Though oil may peak some time in the future, CERA concludes that there is little doubt that existing and potential future resources can support capacity growth through 2030.
Fossil fuels are a finite resource -- given the long period of time necessary to create them. That is a truism. You are not justified in making a leap to the assertion: "world oil production has already peaked!" You must support such an assertion using undisputed facts. The Peak Oil Doom movement has avoided the use of supported logic, in favour of emotional appeals to "the scarcity instinct," that deep fear inside many humans that keeps telling them that doom is just around the corner.

Hydrocarbons, on the other hand, are not a finite resource. Hydrocarbons are an infinitely renewable and sustainable energy resource that wait only for human ingenuity to catch up to human vision.

Peak oil does, in fact exist in one form -- political peak oil. Policies being put in place by Obama's DOE and EPA virtually guarantee high energy costs in the US and a greater need to import overseas oil. The Obama - Pelosi government is stepping all over the US energy industry's ability to produce energy of almost all important forms -- oil, coal, gas, oil sands, oil shale, nuclear, etc. Such destruction of home-grown energy potential is sure to constrict US economic growth.

"Green energy" initiatives cannot come close to making up for this government-induced energy starvation. Such economic suicide could only be based upon ideological obtuseness -- in this case, carbon hysteria.

Obama is incapable of learning and changing. His brain was fixed in its stupidity at a very early age. Only by getting rid of the entire cabal of death-wishers that populate the US government executive and legislative branches (and many federal courts) can the US economy genuinely recover.

Self-limiting delusions such as peak oil, global warming catastrophe, overpopulation, widespread environmental devastation, etc. are the mental shackles that prevent us from growing a better world.

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