May 15, 2010
Oil Industry Veterans On Peak Oil

Wondering about what sorts of people think Peak Oil is a real problem? Watch this video.

Then watch this video.

Check out more videos at aspo.tv (Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas).

Also, listen to this interview with retired petroleum geologist Colin Campbell. Also, read former ConocoPhillips engineer Robert Rapier on the latest US Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook for 2010. The EIA took away the scary unidentified projects graph from last year.

People in the International Energy Agency want to tell you about Peak Oil but the Obama Administration silenced them.

Update: Here's Colin Campbell in 2005 predicting a financial crisis due to Peak Oil.

Here are Colin Campbell, former British Cabinet minister Michael Meacher, Richard Heinberg, and others on Peak Oil.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 May 15 06:20 PM  Energy Fossil Fuels


Comments
Nick G said at May 15, 2010 10:18 PM:

Randall, you said

the Obama Administration silenced them.

Why do you attribute the pressure to the current administration? I'd say they're probably primarily talking about previous administrations.

Engineer-Poet said at May 16, 2010 9:13 AM:

The graph was in the 2009 report, mostly produced under the Bush administration.  It was removed in 2010, under Obama's putative leadership.  (I say "putative", because he's largely a figurehead.  The executive branch is too much for any one person to control, and the interests which recommend appointees probably have a lot more control of low-level policy than the prez himself.)

Randall Parker said at May 16, 2010 9:15 AM:

Nick,

Look at the date of my post and the follow-up. Both occurred during 2009. August and November. The report (minus the presaged change in Peak Oil date) came out between those two dates. If you believed political stereotypes (and apparently you do) then you'd naturally believe that Texas oil man George W. Bush would suppress the truth in order to protect the profits of ExxonMobil but left-leaning man-of-the-people Barack Obama would let the truth and light shine forth. But no. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Randall Parker said at May 16, 2010 9:19 AM:

E-P,

I'm not referring to the graph when I say Obama silenced the truth. I'm referring to how Fatih Birol in Aug 2009 presaged a shift of Peak Oil date from 2030 to 2020 and then the report came out the shift was not there. Instead we have some one hiding behind anonymity saying that the pressure came down from the US (and likely other governments) to suppress the truth.

But yanking the graph out was interesting as well.

Black Death said at May 16, 2010 2:44 PM:

The biggest of the oil biggies, ExxonMobil, was created in 1999 by a merger that was approved by the wicked Republicans of the Clinton administration.

Nick G said at May 16, 2010 3:56 PM:

I was just puzzled by the reference to a single administration. The suppression of concerns about Peak Oil is the historical pattern here. The "glasnost" of PO concern is the aberration, apparently muffled then becoming haltingly more public.

Randall Parker said at May 16, 2010 4:05 PM:

Nick G,

The closer the disaster looms the more the denial becomes a moral outrage.

JCee said at May 17, 2010 7:57 AM:

Although peak oil from oil wells may well hit in the future any dire results will be strictly caused by the Greenies and politicians. There is plenty of oil that is easily and economical to extract from shale with In Situ methods(all shale oil extraction currently is banned by congress). Also synthetic diesel and jet fuel may be made from Coal for ~ $0.80 per gallon. Several relatively recent improvements greatly improve the efficiency of the conversion of coal to synthetic fuel. If all fossil fuel electric plants are replaced by nuclear power plants(recycle the waste)and shale oil or synthetic fuel from coal are used for propulsion we could even reduce US C02 emission by ~50-90% for those concerned by the possibility of Anthropomorphic Global Warming.

Engineer-Poet said at May 17, 2010 7:15 PM:

Oh, BS, JCee.  You can't get anything right.  Look at Shell's abortive efforts, repeatedly put off because of technical difficulties and with only about a 3:1 EROEI projected.  It may make you feel warm to blame 30 years of technical failure on "Greenies and politicians", but that's not going to put gas in your tank tomorrow or ever.  "Oil" shale has no oil in it.  Kerogen can be cracked to oil, but it's a very expensive proposition if nature hasn't done it geothermally.

This is no secret, but tons of people still don't believe it.  The scary part is that people are still buying the talk about floods of cheap oil out there, and blaming "them" for not delivering it to the pumps so they can drive to the corner store in 3-ton trucks.  All this does is make certain that OPEC will have them over a barrel as far into the future as we can see.

Randall Parker said at May 17, 2010 8:05 PM:

JCee, I used to believe the hype about oil shale. Read what Shell was saying 5 years ago in my old posts. But Shell doesn't even believe it any more. They have delayed oil shale because it costs too much.

E-P is right abotu EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) for oil shale. The only way it could work would be if nuclear fusion worked and became cheap.

JCee said at May 18, 2010 8:06 AM:

Several points.

1)First lets not get personal.

2)Whether you believe or disbelieve shale oil extraction economically possible it is Still Banned by Congress(Fact "Politics"). If it is uneconomical to extract shale oil lifting the ban can't hurt anything as no company in the world would dump their money down the sewer hole you claim it to be. Let the market decide.

3)Conversion of coal to sythetic fuels via the Fisher Tropsch process is a well established method the Germans even used extensive amounts of sythetic fuel from coal in WWII after most of their oil supplies became tight. In the last decade alone several major process improvements have been made to greatly improve the efficiency of the method. Most of the studies I've seen place the fuel production costs to be ~$0.80 per gallon. If all fossil fuel electric plants are replaced by nuclear power plants and synthetic fuels from coal are used for propulsion we could even reduce US C02 emission by ~50-90% for those concerned by the possibility of Anthropomorphic. Synthetic fuel from coal is ultrapure when burned with generaly on CO2 for waste. Heck Synthetic Jet fuel is so clean it almost entirely eliminates contrail formation. The Air Force was until recently(last year) trying to build a synthetic jet fuel from coal plant in West Virginia (probably). Until it was banned by Congress(again Politics).

Nick G said at May 18, 2010 8:35 AM:

JCee,

When you refer to anyone with a disrespectful tone, ("the Greenies"), you've started to get personal.

I'm not aware of either shale oil extraction or synthetic fuel from coal being banned. Could you provide sources?

Have you seen any recent cost estimates for capital expense of plants to produce synthetic fuel from coal?

JCee said at May 18, 2010 10:50 AM:

Nick G
1)Sorry if you took anything I said personal. I never referred to you specifically as a "Greenie". I reserve "Greenies" for the I hate everything enviro crowd. I don't mind people being green if they are realistic and practical about it. You know the type no nuclear(waste problem but no we shouldn't recycle it), no wind (kills birds and ugly), no solar(takes up to much desert land), no coal(CO2), no oil (CO2), no natural gas (CO2), no hydro (interferes with fish), etc. The Luddites who wish us to freeze to death in the winter. Although I'm doubtful of AGW I would greatly prefer for us not to be sending hundreds of billions of dollars to third world tyrants and the Mideast for their oil. I generally advocate expanded energy research and active development of many alternatives to imported oil.

2)Correction the Congressional Ban on shale was finally allowed to expire October 31, 2008 just before the Nov 2008 Election. However leases were later revoke February 25th 2009 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cancelling planned expansions of shale-oil R&D.
http://www.helium.com/items/1357664-shale-oil-shale-oil-controversy-colorado-controversy

Shale as a possible fuel is absolutely riddled with politics.
http://blog.heritage.org/2008/09/25/harry-reid-sneaks-in-oil-shale-ban/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/25/AR2009022503784.html
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/may/15/panel-defeats-attempt-end-oil-shale-moratorium/

Interestingly Exxon is still high on this shale-oil extraction as of January 2010
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/01/electrofrac-20100111.html

3)The syntheic fuel from Coal ban is an indirect ban not a full out ban . The Armed Forces are forbidden from buying or using fuel that makes more CO2 than currently from oil. ( http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/04/ban-on-alternat/ ) Until fossil fuels are eliminated from electric generation synthetic fuel from coal will make more CO2 than fuel from oil unless set up near a nuclear or hydroelectric plant.

4) Not for sure about the capital costs but there was the recently plan Pikeville Kentucky plant that was suppose to be a full production plant from scratch for $4 Billion dollars. I imagine but don't know conversion of existing refineries would be less expensive. http://www.wkyt.com/news/headlines/25440369.html

JCee said at May 18, 2010 11:41 AM:

Hyperion Small Reactors would make a great energy source for In Situ shale-oil extraction if shale-oil extraction proves viable (assuming Hyperion gets its reactor successfully licensed).

Engineer-Poet said at May 18, 2010 6:14 PM:

Oil shale was a political beast from the outset.  The initiatives after the 1979 oil price shock animated the monster and saw it rise from the slab.  It's never been viable on its own merits.  Why do you think it would be any less political today... especially with the economy down and tax subsidies very contentious?

Hyperion reactors are going to be quite costly due, among other things, to very specialized fuel requirements.  They're going to compete really well with oil, but not so well with cheap bulk fossil fuels like coal.  They're going to be popular in places like Hawaii.

The Green River shale formation is within easy HVDC range of the entire Midwestern wind belt.  Shell's in-situ retorting process uses electric heaters, which is well-suited to purchase of off-peak electricity from wind farms.  If Shell can ever get the process working, it's very likely that a lot of the energy to drive it will come from wind.

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