April 30, 2010
BP Drilling Rig Accident Makes Peak Oil Harder

Robert Rapier expects the BP drilling rig accident with the Deepwater Horizon rig to set back the momentum that was building for more US offshore drilling.

So I believe the long term implications of this incident will be to exacerbate our slide down the backside of peak oil. Fields take a long time to develop, and fields being developed now may have been producing oil in 5 or 10 years. But I believe this window of opportunity has now closed, and it will be much more difficult to find broad support for expanded drilling.

Since Obama was going to open up pretty small offshore areas off of Virginia and the Gulf of Mexico the loss isn't that great in my view. Also, the delay might only last a few years until oil prices and get high enough to shift public sentiment toward favoring more drilling.

Rapier wants to use additional drilling to provide revenue to reduce our oil dependence. My guess is that by the time substantial production starts flowing from new offshore fields the world oil prices will be so high and economically damaging that industry, the public, and governments will already be taking lots of actions to reduce oil dependence.

I have explained my position on this in the past: I think we should drill and use the proceeds to fund programs for reducing our oil dependence. I am trying to think practically here, and I think what will happen if we donít develop the oil we have will be more dependence on oil imports as opposed to a hastening of a transition to renewable fuels. There will be an element of the latter, but it wonít be enough.

Still, I agree with Rapier that this latest accident is going to make the adjustment to declining world oil production harder to handle. That decline might start soon.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 April 30 12:21 AM  Energy Peak Oil Adaptations

random said at April 30, 2010 8:56 AM:

There still seems to be so much confusion about the definition of "peak oil". The peak is caused by economics, not a lack of oil. There's still a great deal of oil left in the earth, but the cost of getting it is steadily increasing. Once it increases to a certain point consumers will cut back usage, reducing the need for supplying as much oil, and thus causing a downward slope in production.

Based on that "Oil Man" article, it sounds like Obama's man, Glen Sweetnam, still thinks we can use ethanol as an alternative for oil. Has the technology improved recently and I didn't notice? Biofuels are (were?) a net energy loser. I thought most people realized in 2008 that ethanol is not the solution.

Nick G said at April 30, 2010 9:21 AM:


Biofuels don't produce much net energy, but that's not very important. Liquid fuel is what's going be scarce. Ethanol only needs .2 btus of liquid fuel (diesel) to produce 1 btu of fuel.

Randall, this article is interesting: http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2010/04/exceeding-2008-peak-of-oil-production.html

It looks like non-OPEC production is doing better than everyone expected.

LAG said at April 30, 2010 10:18 AM:

The only thing I know now for sure is that a solution is on the way! The New York Times says so: "White House Takes a Bigger Role in the Oil Spill Cleanup" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/us/30gulf.html). Thank God! With their expertise in the maritime oil bid-ness, we'll be fixed in no time. It, IT will be fixed in no time. No one can accuse them of a flaccid response. They're acting!

This action includes doing focused stuff to stop the oil like sending SWAT teams: "Mr. Obama said SWAT teams were being dispatched to the Gulf to investigate oil rigs and said his administration is now working to determine the cause of the disaster." (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/29/national/main6444311.shtml), ordering the Air Force to move in with all their at-sea oil spill control expertise (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9FDGAD00&show_article=1), stop all oil leases (cause we know they were on the verge of releasing millions of gallons), and after years of criticizing Bush for his total failure to control the weather, deflecting blame from the White House for failing to close the blow-out preventer valve on the rig (well sort of: See official government press organ Newsweek: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2010/04/30/right-wing-who-to-blame-for-the-oil-spill-environmentalists-and-obama.aspx)

Random is right. Peak oil is an economic limitation, not physical, but it now has a very large political component fostered by differences of opinion between true believers in the religion of environmentalism and those who would exploit their liturgy and the non-believers who also generally accept that the environment and human progress are not zero-sum propositions.

Peter said at April 30, 2010 6:54 PM:

That's what we need ASAP. A new government program! hooray! The best and brightest people will be on the job in no time. Tax the people actually producing, and give it to Obama/pelosi/reid. Because our politicians spend money so very wisely.

th said at May 4, 2010 4:09 PM:

Beyond Petroleum, what a way to get what you wish for, it's odd they applied for a temporary plug and abandonment permit for this well before this happened, I'd like to know if the were playing a game to get cheap leases in this area or if the well was actually tested and not very impressive results, the 10 year old blow out preventer that didn't work doesn't look too good, but if they can contain it in a few weeks, the anti drilling yappers will be dispatched in november elections and it will be forgotten in few months, the oil and gas business is usually very ingenious at solving things long before it gets too bad, their very existence is on the line here.

Kyeshia said at May 5, 2010 10:07 AM:

Obama is the one wise man in world politics. If anyone can lead us out of the wilderness into the promised land of abundance and prosperity, it is Obama. I was once lost in dark despair, but now I see that what I need to do is to surrender to his greater wisdom. He is the light chosen to lead. Follow him and abandon your fears.

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