Saturday, February 23, 2008

Peak Oil & Energy Update: February 2008

The Peak Oil community's consensus is that we hit peak crude oil in 2005 and we're now currently riding the Plateau. All the easy, cheap oil has been found and only the more expensive, harder to get and unconventional oil is left. There are estimates of possible shortages in 2009-2010 and some bumps in the road until 2015 when things could start to get ugly or we could transition to alternative energies. The good news is that total liquids are increasing due to biofuels, but they are only part of the solution and will only allow us to squeeze out a little bit more time to hopefully transition to Plug-In Hybrids and fully Electric Cars.

Shockingly, we may not have 150 years of Coal like originally thought. This report from the German Government states Coal may peak around 2025. Coal Reserve Estimates are drastically being lowered and many countries haven't updated their data in decades. So the data isn't clear and we'll need more updates to "prove" more Coal exists. Germany's reserve estimates have lowered by 99%.

According to Peak Oil author and researcher Richard Heinberg's and interview with, we have extracted most of the high density coal. So in speaking of energy quantity, we peaked in the US 5 years ago. That throws the possibility of LiquidCoal replacing gas/diesel into question. Also, the USA generates 50% of it's energy from Coal and California generates 50% of its energy from Natural Gas, which is also close to peak.

Some say we have plenty of oil left, we're finding oil all the time. Yes we're finding oil but it is in smaller quantities of size and supply per day. Others say there is plenty of oil not yet found, and maybe there are conspiracies to keep the oil hidden and production low to artificially create Peak Oil.

The reality is more oil is not proven. Just hoped for. The new unconventional discoveries such as The Alberta Tar Sands, Shale in the Midwest and Alaska's ANWR will be important and will allow oil to be around for a very long time. But they will arrive in small in quantities of supply per day and unable to fully fill the demand we currently require for this lifestyle of endless consumption and growth.

Our current lifestyle is a choice. We still have time to explore and debate the possibilities of other ways of life. If we don't start thinking now, we'll be forced to change in the future and it won't be pretty.

2010-2015 will be interesting years that test the fabric of our society. I think we should be starting today to prepare to learn to live a new lifestyle. A lifestyle of reduced consumption, increased efficiency and increased use of alternative energies. More walking, bike riding, localization of food, energy and supplies.

Peak Oil should be entering mass consciousness this year or next. The 11th Hour produced by Leonardo DiCaprio will be coming out on DVD April 8th, 2008 which ties together Climate Change, Peak Oil, Environmental Destruction and Peak Resources (Water, etc).

There is even a video game based on oil shortages coming out soon. The game's plot is about a war between US & Europe vs The Red Star Alliance (Russia & China). Throughout the game, fights break out in cities with Wind Power and Solar Panels on the tops of houses.

We could have some good news on the supply side if we can get Iraq's oil online anytime soon. But due to the War, the unstable region and growing hatred for the West, anything is possible, like the middle east cutting us off like they did in 1973.

Iran is making alliances with Russia and China and has stopped selling oil in dollars. Saudi Arabia's production has already peaked and even George Bush knows it.

Iraq has the 3rd largest conventional oil reserves (9.5%) and it is largely untapped. Iran is 2nd (11.5%) and Saudi Arabia is 1st (21.9%).

The USA Uses 24% of the world's oil. China is currently using about 10% and growing rapidly along with India. China is putting pressure to get more oil from the Middle East, Canada and Venezuela).

The USA uses about 21mbd and imports about 13mbd. In order for the US & North America to be energy independent we'll need to find new supplies of oil or to reduce our consumption. These new oil sources in the short term will help us keep pace with demand and dwindling world wide supplies but they cannot fully replace our imports and/or existing oil supplies.

The Alberta Tar Sands have proven reserves equal to about Saudi Arabia. They currently output about 1mbd and the government hopes to increase production to 3mbd in 2020, and 5mbd in 2030.

Oil Shale has been found in the Midwest but the technology isn't quite there yet and the rights to extract it haven't been granted by the US Government. It is estimated to be able to output about 1mbd. It will require 10 Power Plants and huge amounts of water from the already over-tapped Colorado River. Unfortunately, cities in Southwestern United States and Mexico currently depend on the Colorado and are already planning on shortages.

Alaska is supposed to have plenty of oil. ANWR is estimated to be able to produce 0.6mbd and peak at 1.9mbd in 2020-2030. Lindsey Williams says we have a deposit the size of Saudi Arabia at Gull Island Alaska (200 billion barrels) and it was kept secret in the 1970s by the government. He says we're in the middle east to protect the use of Dollars traded in Oil ("Petrodollar Warfare") because this is the only thing keeping our dollar alive.

I've also just read that it is possible we have found a huge source of oil under the L Native American Land in the Midwest. Keep in mind the Lakota's just seceded from the USA two months ago - December 2007. This will be interesting.

The Bakken formation is made up of Oil Shale and Dolomite (rock). Originally found in 1953, new horizontal drilling technology and an increase in the price of oil make this source economically viable for extraction. Estimates range from 270 to 500 billion barrels of oil in the ground, with only 1% (4bbl) to 3% (12.4bbl) available to extract. (

It is unknown at what rate the oil can be extracted at. And we'll have to wait and see if there really is that much oil. It's possible that this find is being overestimated, like the Caspian Sea reserves.

Good news is that we are increasing our biofuel production so total liquid production is keeping up with demand. Unfortunately, biofuels only replace a tiny fraction of our oil use and it competes with our food production. Biofuels will help fill in the gap of demand for the short term, and work in our existing infrastructure with blends in gasoline and use in diesel engines, but it will not be a replacement for oil.

Some hope for alternative energies and electric cars to solve our problems but it will take 10-15 years to replace our fleet and infrastructure. There are concerns of resource limits on batteries and questions of "Will we have enough energy to create the new technology?"

I think in the next few years we'll continue to see the price of oil rise. We're currently at about $100/barrel. The recent drastic increase in price was due to the falling dollar and we'll continue to see it playing a part in the future. Combine that with increasing demand out pacing increased supply and we could see a worldwide depression due to a global economic slowdown and credit crisis. We'll see gas rationing like the 1970's crises and possible increased international tensions for access to oil and how it will be priced (Dollars vs Euros vs a basket of currencies). We'll see massive governmental intervention to help restore order and see some government programs like "The New Deal" in the 1930s. With possible riots and chaos due to food shortages, this would explain all the FEMA/Haliburton "concentration camps" being built.

My hope is that we'll get through this crisis and eventually break out of it through a new "green" revolution. Whether we are still America or we're part of a North American Union with the Amero, we should work together with a unitary consciousness to build a sustainable, prosperous and peaceful future.

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