Saturday, May 24, 2008

Peak Oil? Not Even Close

While the marching morons of peak oil continue their adolescent doom-seeking, the realists of the world understand one simple fact: there is a lot more oil in the ground than has ever been pumped for fuel.
Even with record-high oil prices, about two-thirds of the oil in known oil fields is being left in the ground. That's because existing technologies that could extract far more oil--as much as about 75 percent of the oil in some oil fields--aren't being widely used, according to experts in the petroleum industry.

Several well-established technologies, including "smart oil fields," exist that could significantly boost the supply of petroleum from oil reservoirs. But a lack of investment in such technologies, particularly by the national oil companies that control the vast majority of the world's oil reserves, is holding back implementation. When oil is drawn from a field too quickly, or from a bad location, or with the wrong kind of well, large amounts of oil can be left behind, says Richard Sears, a visiting scientist at MIT who has served as a vice president for exploration at Royal Dutch Shell, based in the Netherlands. But the best technologies for managing an oil field require up-front investment--when an oil field is mapped and characterized and the first wells are drilled--and the payoff can take decades.

...Such smart oil fields have started to become more common for international oil companies such as Shell, Exxon-Mobil, and BP. But they still aren't used in most oil fields. And their use is particularly low in fields run by national oil companies, says Larry Schwartz, a longtime researcher and scientific advisor for Schlumberger, a Houston-based company that provides various services to oil companies.

...Steven Koonin, BP's chief scientist, says that cutting-edge research could lead to automated oil rigs on the sea floor, ultra-deep-water ocean drilling, and arctic exploration and production, as well as to technology for extracting oil from unconventional sources, such as shale. But although oil prices have been higher than $60 a barrel for almost three years, Koonin says that for the most advanced technologies, "oil prices will have to stay high for a couple of years longer before companies think they can make big investments." __TechReview

The situation is even more counterintuitive than that. Huge oil fields which adolescent doom-seekers claim are "tapped out" still often contain most of their oil, because corrupt national oil companies will not invest in better technology. Most of Saudi Arabia and the middle east have not even been properly surveyed, explored, or test drilled for oil.

And still there are the huge reserves of heavy oils, tar sands, and oil shales which lie undisturbed due to incompetence of corrupt governments such as Venezuela, and the ideological incompetence of the current US Congress.



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