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John_Gaunt

Peak Oil / Oil Reserves

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I suppose that it why they give a range between world supply peaking between 2004 and 2037. Obviously this is a huge range.
But it's a specific range, which isn't even validated. I would more easily accept "oil will eventually peak" than the unvalidated range they give.

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The Problems with this scenario is that technology is assumed to be a constant, ...
Yes, and not just technology related to finding and drilling, but the entire supply chain. Since this argument is economic, one has to consider that these direct costs are only one part ofnthe entire cost. By the time the product reaches the consumer, you also have costs of refining, cost of delivery and all sorts of "overheads". Technology keeps addressing these and making these cheaper.

Secondly, if one considers the current cost-to-consumer in the US and compare that to the cost in many other developed countries the direct costs would probably need to triple before one could even speak of a crisis.

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Academically and scientifically, yes. Practically, I doubt it will have a big impact. Fission power plants still have the capability to last hundreds if not thousands of years and they will likely be cheaper than nuclear fusion.

Fission is stone age compared to fusion power. Fission power requires extraction of Uranium, which is not that common, and the waste products are nasty stuff that's very expensive to deal with - not to mention creating Plutonium that can be used in nuclear bombs. If some of the current research into small scale fusion reactors works out, they could also be small enough to form thousands of highly distributed and relatively economical power systems, which is extremely unlikely to ever happen with fission reactors. One source that I read recently indicated that each cubic kilometer of seawater contains more energy in the form of fusable deuterium than the entire known supply of hydrocarbon fuels in the world. I have little doubt that it also outstrips the energy from available Uranium by many orders of magnitude.

I don't think your namesake was content to let whale oil lamps dominate lighting by the way :blush: Progress is good.

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Fission is stone age compared to fusion power. Fission power requires extraction of Uranium, which is not that common, and the waste products are nasty stuff that's very expensive to deal with - not to mention creating Plutonium that can be used in nuclear bombs. If some of the current research into small scale fusion reactors works out, they could also be small enough to form thousands of highly distributed and relatively economical power systems, which is extremely unlikely to ever happen with fission reactors. One source that I read recently indicated that each cubic kilometer of seawater contains more energy in the form of fusable deuterium than the entire known supply of hydrocarbon fuels in the world. I have little doubt that it also outstrips the energy from available Uranium by many orders of magnitude.

....

I agree that fusion will have advantages over fission, if and when controlled fusion is ever perfected, but in the meantime, the case for fission is pretty good. Regarding a few of your points:

1) Rarity of uranium. It's true that uranium is somewhat rare, but it's more abundant in the Earth's crust than such elements as bromine, antimony, mercury, iodine and silver. And uranium is not of much use for anything besides fission. And if commercial breeder reactors are ever perfected, uranium resources will be extended in usefulness by a factor of over 100. And don't forget thorium! It can be turned into fissile uranium, and used to fuel a fission reactor; and there is almost 4 times as much thorium in the Earth's crust as there is uranium.

2) Waste products of fission. Yes, they're quite toxic, but they are also produced in small volumes and are easy to deal with. We've known how to dispose of them for a long time; the barriers against safe disposal today are political, not technological. And while the fusion reaction itself does not produce any radioactive products, it's likely that there would still be lots of radioactive waste to deal with from a fusion reactor because the structure would be very strongly irradiated by neutrons, so it would end up becoming radioactive. It won't be a problem we can't deal with (even though the ecofreaks won't like it) but then, we can deal with the fission products too.

3) Using plutonium to make bombs. The plutonium that's produced in a fission power reactor is of an isotopic composition that makes it hard to use for making bombs. Using this "kind" of plutonium, one is likely to get a bomb that doesn't work, or "fizzles" spontaneously in a low-yield explosion.

4) Small scale reactors. There are plans today for fission reactors that are less than 1/10 the size of today's large commercial reactors, so they could be made small if there was a reason small ones were needed.

Anyway, I don't mean to disparage fusion, because some day it will probably be an important source of energy. But, it could take a long time to develop. (It already has.) In the meantime, nuclear fission is a pretty darned good source of energy.

Edited by Jay P

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Growing Chinese (and soon, Indian) demand for oil has led to talk of a looming oil-crisis. If oils starts to run short, someone will probably figure a smarter way to produce more. For years, there has been talk of getting oil from shale and from "oil sands". The WikiPedia has an entry. It also has a link to a U.S. Navy presentation about shale oil.

Saudi's current estimated reserves are 300 billion barrels. Compare this to an estimated 1,500 billion barrels in U.S shale-based potential oil. Problem is, people have been trying to get at shale oil for over a hundred years. Many have given up the effort. It is simply not practical at the prices that producers could expect to receive. Near the end of the U.S. Navy presentation (mentioned above), there is a chart showing the cost-per-unit (barrel?) for the Alberta, Canada operation. It has dropped from around $30 in 1983 to under $10 in 2003. While it is becoming in cheaper to produce oil from oil-sands, the price of oil is rising. These two things, taken together, mean that such oil is becoming increasingly profitable.

The Economist (April 22nd,2006, pg 67) gives the following prices at which various sources become economically viable:

$20 : Conventional Oil

$40 : Tar Sands; Brazilian cane-based ethanol; "gas-to-liquids", "coal-to-liquids"

$50 : Shale Oil

$60 : U.S. corn-based ethanol

$80 : Biodiesel

Of course, it takes time, and an expectation of long-term likelihood of a higher price before companies will set themselves up to exploit the costlier sources. Already, Alberta, Canada is seeing a little boomlet!

The real threat is that the environmentalists will throw road-blocks in the way of the new technologies. Already, Republicans like Elizabeth Dole are voting to ban off-sore drilling. Greenpeace is objecting to oil-sands, so I suspect that oil-sands do have potential. With the acceptance of arbitrary fears as a norm, it is pretty easy for environmentalists to think up some "problem" from anything new.

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Regarding the oil from shale,

Last year while working near grand junction I quite a few Halliburton drilling rigs set up in several different locations. Apparentely they are thinking the same thing.

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The Economist (April 22nd,2006, pg 67) gives the following prices at which various sources become economically viable:

$20 : Conventional Oil

$40 : Tar Sands; Brazilian cane-based ethanol; "gas-to-liquids", "coal-to-liquids"

$50 : Shale Oil

$60 : U.S. corn-based ethanol

$80 : Biodiesel

Are those prices per barrel? Because if so, everything on that list except biodiesel is already viable.

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Yes, they are $ per barrel. And, yes if prices were to stay as high as they are today, then many more of these are viable. Right now, the price of oil is just above $70, the price of 2007 oil is about $75. However, the price of 2012 oil is just over $65.

Here are some prices. Apparently, "the market" thinks oil prices are going to come down slightly. This is in spite of the certainity of increased demand. OTOH, the market also seems to think the price is not going back to the $30's. If this is true, then the Canadian businessmen are right to be going ahead with their Alberta projects.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Yes, they are $ per barrel. And, yes if prices were to stay as high as they are today, then many more of these are viable. Right now, the price of oil is just above $70, the price of 2007 oil is about $75. However, the price of 2012 oil is just over $65.

Here are some prices. Apparently, "the market" thinks oil prices are going to come down slightly. This is in spite of the certainity of increased demand. OTOH, the market also seems to think the price is not going back to the $30's. If this is true, then the Canadian businessmen are right to be going ahead with their Alberta projects.

If I were a Canadian businessman I'd rather buyback my companies stock and only provide a tiny bit of my product into the market, long term, the big bucks are on their way.

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It's far from clear that the price of oil will stay as high as it is or rise over the next decade or so. In the early 1980's, oil went all the way to $60. However, it was back down to $20 by the end of that decade. Then, in 1999, "The Economist" had an issue with a cover that read "Drowning in Oil"; an rticle inside said "$10 might actually be too optimistic. We may be heading for $5" (HT: Bill Miller).

There's no doubt that demand has risen relative to available production capacity; but, the high price draws more supply. The supply takes some years to come online. First, producers want to see signs that the demand will stay high, before they go out and spend money on rigs and refineries. (The Wall Street Journal of July 5th, 2006 had an article about how the number of rigs in the gulf of Mexico is reducing, because some middle-east producers are renting them instead. They're able to pay the $100,000 - $300,000 per day rental rates because of the current price of oil.) The article notes: "Companies world-wide are currently building 91 major offshore rigs, up from fewer than 10 in 2003". Forbes too had an article about the rig demand.

The Canadian oil suppliers might do best to pump out all they can while they can get a good price and even to sell enough future supply to people who're betting prices will stay this high. Even assuming prices rise, the Canadian producers are in the oil-production business, and would best focus on that and minimize the extent of their involvement in the oil-speculation business.

Edited by softwareNerd

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It's true that most of the increase in the $ price of oil is explained by inflation. Still, in the 1990s oil was about 5 gold ounces per 100 barrels, but it's hovering around 12 to 15 gold ounces today. That is even a little higher than it's late-1970s level. (A source.)

The high price is going to bring increased supplies to market. The Canadian sources have been mentioned above. The Wall Street Journal of today (July 10, 2006) had an article about the middle eastern countries experimenting with extracting more oil from their "heavy oil" fields. The techniques are more expensive than normal, but the higher oil-price makes it profitable. Though still experimental, similar techniques in Californian fields resulted in extraction of 80% of oil from some fields where previous techniques could only extract 15%. The oil-companies are hoping to increase the extraction from selected heavy-oil fields in the middle-east from under 10% today, to around 40%. With the right minds on the job, I expect there's a good chance they'll surpass that target.

The market expects the demand-supply situation to get better in 2009. According to Barrons (July 10th), oil that is priced over $74 today can be bought for $73 if you want it delivered in 2009 and $70 if you want it delivered in 2011.

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Very true. We've all heard of the various means of extraction that become profitable at "$xx" per barrel. Every single one of those $xx's that I've ever heard of has been reached.

The market behaves very well that way.

Ah, but the chicken littles? I severely doubt they'll eat their words. They'll just keep thinking up new crises, or pretending that this one will still happen. Or legislating such that they will make it happen.

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Interesting to see something happening within the U.S. on the oil-sands front. Most of the experiments of previous decades were abandoned.

Meanwhile, in Canada, the Financial Times reports:

...the regional municipality that includes the Alberta town of Fort McMurray will tell regulators this month that its over-stretched services cannot cope with a planned C$6bn (US$5.4bn) expansion of Suncor Energy's nearby oilsands operation.

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I've been studying and following news on this topic for over a year, and I personally think that if this is true, it is a serious smack-in-the-face for people advocating a capitalist system that is based on infinite growth. Oil running out is a very bad thing for everybody, especially since it doesn't seem like there is a good replacement for such an efficient source of energy. And with other energy sources, especially gas, being linked to oil, we might just need to brace ourselves for some tough times ahead. Even if the solution to this is a market one, we're still gonna get a pretty rough landing.

If there's anyone with a private Galt's Gultch around somewhere, now's the time to retreat and start building up the crops.

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I've been studying and following news on this topic for over a year, and I personally think that if this is true, it is a serious smack-in-the-face for people advocating a capitalist system that is based on infinite growth. Oil running out is a very bad thing for everybody, especially since it doesn't seem like there is a good replacement for such an efficient source of energy. And with other energy sources, especially gas, being linked to oil, we might just need to brace ourselves for some tough times ahead. Even if the solution to this is a market one, we're still gonna get a pretty rough landing.

Oil running out is not as bad as it seems. Firstly it can´t run out. Secondly there are replacements (plastics can be made from coal as well and scientists are trying to develop method of making plastics from sacharids - some plastics can be made from celulose even now; energy can be produced from uran; cars can be powered by hydrogen and so forth) - the only reason replacements are not used now is that they are more expensive than the oil is. When oil will become more expensive, other resources will be used more - that is the reason why oil can´t run out - when sources of oil will be to hard to obtain it form them, other resources will substitute oil because of lower price.

So it´s not anything which deny capitalism but it is rather another proof of effective functioning of capitalism - because the mechanism of substitution of resources depends on free market.

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When oil will become more expensive, other resources will be used more - that is the reason why oil can´t run out - when sources of oil will be to hard to obtain it form them, other resources will substitute oil because of lower price.

Yes - in three or four centuries when oil might actually become rare. But it's in no danger of even doing that; not anytime even remotely soon. Peak Oil is nothing but a pile of chicken-little-scaremongering garbage. It's a combination of open lies and a childishly bad misunderstanding of the true amount of oil that is out there.

Oil. Is. Not. Running. Out.

The only reason that it's become even slightly more expensive is that Capitalism has been strangled and restricted. The only danger to the oil supply is the danger of more restrictions on Capitalism.

Edited by Inspector

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Chevron and two other firms are pretty optimistic about a new oil-find in the Gulf of Mexico (another story here). In summary, if their hopes prove right, there could be from 3 to 15 billion barrels of oil there. (Estimated US oil-reserves at current prices: 30 billion barrels.)

More important than the particular find is the ability to get oil from such depths. Such an ability is applicable to other places in the world.

Again, while the environmentalists and the "common-sense" average Joe's think that oil reserves must fall as we use more and more of it, the trends show just the opposite. This spreadsheet (http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/i...oilreserves.xls) has the figures. In summary, the world's oil-reserves in various years were as follows:

1980: 645 bbl

1985: 700 bbl

1990: 1,002bbl

1995: 999 bbl

2000: 1,016 bbl

2005: 1,277 bbl (mainly from the addition of Canadian "sands-oil")

2006: 1,293

Edited by softwareNerd

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I've been studying and following news on this topic for over a year, and I personally think that if this is true, it is a serious smack-in-the-face for people advocating a capitalist system that is based on infinite growth. Oil running out is a very bad thing for everybody, especially since it doesn't seem like there is a good replacement for such an efficient source of energy. And with other energy sources, especially gas, being linked to oil, we might just need to brace ourselves for some tough times ahead. Even if the solution to this is a market one, we're still gonna get a pretty rough landing.

If there's anyone with a private Galt's Gultch around somewhere, now's the time to retreat and start building up the crops.

Though I really don't see oil shortage being an issue anywhere within the near future, there is, has, and likely will always be the alternative fuel resource of "coal". http://energy.usgs.gov/factsheets/nca/nca.html

And while that may be there for us to readily fall back on, I'm more so inclined towards a somewhat "cleaner" rationale, i.e., http://www.teslamotors.com

Edited by -archimedes-

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In support of those here with like understanding of the oil industry/available supply, I'd like to submit that we've no real/immediate concern over oil shortage/the myth of "peak oil" as all that it is is a myth.

There's actually some "trillions" of barrels/like "140 years of oil, at current rates of consumption", available. As such, industry insiders are not concerned, nor should we buy into the propaganda fed to us through the media. I got tired of that crap and decided to get the actual "word" on the situation from the metapnorical "horses mouth"..., sketch this>> http://radford.edu/~wkovaric/oil/

Pay no real mind to the title page, as the arthor was merely using it as a vehicle to collect and redistribute the data, though I would give the numerous links to readily recognizable, credible sources scattered all over the site a click and cross reference all of the 411 to see if you reach the same conclusion..., enjoy!

Edited by -archimedes-

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Oh, I know. If only more people did.
Yeah, I'm doing my part to try to get the word out there to help ease some of this sorta mass hysteria thing I've seen going around (largely in part/wholely fueled by the fluctuating fuel prices)..., pass it along.

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