Friday, May 18, 2012

Crude Oil: Peak Demand 2020?

A small number of analysts forecast that oil production will start to fall by 2020 – not because we are running out, but because we just won’t need it. They argue that the world will wean itself off oil voluntarily, through major advances Peak oil will not be a supply-side phenomenon brought about by shrinking reserves...If they are right, this shift will start the long-term transition from oil to electricity as the main transport fuel, reduce economies’ vulnerability to spikes in the oil price, and cap greenhouse emissions from crude oil. _DavidStrahan

Strahan is thinking mainly about a shift from fossil fuel transportation to electricity powered transportation. Other people thinking along similar lines of "peak demand" expand the concept to total energy conservation leading to a drop in demand for oil.
A major plank in my golden age scenario for the 2020’s is the collapse of the cost of energy. This won’t occur because of a single big discovery, but from a 1,000 small ones that aggregate together to create a leveraged effect. The upshot is that we may be free of OPEC in 3-5 years, and completely energy independent not long after that. The impact on financial markets and global standards of living will be huge.

...Some 75% of the electricity generated powers buildings, three fourths of the oil fuels transportation, and the rest goes to industry. Demand for Texas tea is already falling dramatically. Since 1975, the amount of oil needed to produce a dollar of GDP has plunged a stunning 60%. Coal production peaked in 2005 and has since lost 25% of the market for power utilities, mostly to natural gas. “Peak oil” is becoming a reality, not in supply terms, but in demand. _madhedger

The mad hedger makes the mistake of expecting solar and wind to be part of the solution -- instead of a big part of the problem -- but nobody's perfect.

The common thread in the two articles is optimism over the prospects for energy conservation and conversion. But there are also grounds for optimism in terms of energy production.
Technology has allowed the industry to cut the cost of production, increase the volume of fossil fuels captured, reduce environmental impacts and reach previously inaccessible deposits of oil and natural gas.

Global reserves of oil and natural gas have grown 130 percent since 1980 and more than 30 percent since 2000, Pryor said.

New methods for extracting more oil and natural gas from the ground have been particularly important to growing production volumes, Pryor said.

The natural flow of oil from wells only accounts for 15 percent to 20 percent of the total volume produced today, he said. Easing the flow of fossil fuels using water, carbon dioxide and other methods can enhances production by as much as 25 percent.

“And now the combined application of horizontal drilling and fracking can add another 10 percent,” he said. “Each of these technology advances unlocks more resource and reserves.”

Deep-ocean drilling holds among the greatest promises for expanding oil and natural gas production, Pryor said. He noted that in the 1950s, the industry was limited to drilling in water depths less than 100 feet. Today, wells are being completed 10,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. _FuelFix

Of course there will be many more discoveries of new oil & gas fields -- both conventional and unconventional -- over the decades. And there will be significant progress in terms of other forms of energy production. After all, the current energy starvationist regimes controlling many western nations, cannot stay in power forever.

But what will make it "game over" for peak oil, is the perfection and licensing of HTGRs -- high temperature gas cooled reactors. The power of clean, cheap, abundant industrial process heat will be a game changer -- to say nothing of the abundant electrical power generation from safer, cleaner, more efficient new nuclear reactors.

One way or another, humans will reduce their use of conventional crude oil. But it is not likely to come about the way the doom-porn wankers of the peak oil catastrophe cult expect.



Blogger Whirlwind22 said...

It would be nice if this where true but dont alot of these shale and gas plays require the price of oil/gas to be high since other wise they are not worth their investment? EROEI is low to. For example Chesapeake the Gas company is in finincial trouble.

1:00 PM  

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