cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Peak Oil

N/A

Peak Oil

After spending a much time reading up on the impending peak oil crisis, I felt like throwing myself under a bus! Does anybody have anything optimistic or positive to say on this subject? The internet's great for researching conspiracy theories and prophecies of doom, but good news seems a lot harder to come by.

The 'peak oil' theory essentially asserts that we're in the doo-doo not when we run out of oil, but when production peaks - thus producing economic collapse as demand outstrips supply. While we may have decades of oil left in the ground, the production peak might be much closer. Or we may even have reached it. For more info, just google "peak oil". And prepare to be depressed.
11 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Peak Oil

I can't say I've ever heard of "peak oil", but as a Geography A-level student I've met the subject of depletion of fossil fuels etc. several times...

One thing I would say though: the human population is, in general, pretty intelligent... who's to say that we haven't developed hovercars that run on coffee or something ( Wink ), before we get a scenario where demand is greater than the supply of oil? That'd mean that our energy consumption could remain high, but the amount of oil used would be allowed to decrease...

Thomas
N/A

Peak Oil

The problem is that the Oil companies are buying the technology that powers the next generation of devices.

Fosils fuels will be useful to years to come, if such technology was to come about, but the Oil companies are not willing to wait for the money from oil.

I wouldn't call you thick Thomas Tongue But Oil is used more than just in just cars. I can alsomost gurentee that you can't look around your room, and find an item that has had soem form of Oil used in it's finish or production.

Yes, the Oil company greed may stop, and new technologies become a reality. But ti will take time to get them onto the market. And the Oil usage will still be growing faster than the build process.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Peak Oil

Yup, I know oil has far more uses than that (for instance, in plastics production) - but my point still stands - new technologies can be implemented! Well, provided the oil companies don't stop them (which I admit I wasn't aware of).

Thomas
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,878
Registered: 04-04-2007

Peak Oil

Yes I agree with Thomas, and the fact that the oil companies are buying these ttechnologies show thier viability, while buying them buys the competition it also means a company with the money to develop these techologies has control of them.

Chris
N/A

Peak Oil

As someone who works in the oil industry, I have to say that there's far less reason to be pessimistic than you might think. At current rates of consumption, there's probably 30+ years of oil left. That's a long time for us to develop alternative fuels. Shell has a (publicly available) set of energy scenarios, one of which predicts hydrogen fuel-cell usage becoming quite common within that time-frame.

Secondly, there's so much gas left we shouldn't even begin to worry - maybe 200 years worth. Gas-to-liquids technologies can convert gas to diesel and other liquid fuels, which can then be used to create plastics and other hydrocarbon-derived products. And gas-fired power stations are increasingly being built to take advantage of this cheap and (relatively) clean fuel.

Thirdly, oil companies are not conspiring to do anything but make money. They will continue to find and sell oil as long as anyone is prepared to buy it. If it gets too expensive, people will start looking at other fuels, and the oil companies will make sure they are in a position to start selling them that instead.

What we should worry about is where we get our hydrocarbons from. Increasingly, we're going to be relying on the less stable countries for our energy supplies. The EU has even formulated policies on energy diversity to avoid becoming over reliant on single countries (on Russia and North Africa, in particular). The UK North Sea is in permanent decline and the UK will become a net importer of oil and gas by next year. Similar story in North America.

Anyone who continues to deny that recent military operations in Iraq are nothing to do with securing energy supplies is kidding themself.
N/A

Peak Oil

Quote
Thirdly, oil companies are not conspiring to do anything but make money. They will continue to find and sell oil as long as anyone is prepared to buy it. If it gets too expensive, people will start looking at other fuels, and the oil companies will make sure they are in a position to start selling them that instead.


Yes maybe, but not before us as consumers of the by-products of oil have paid though the nose, and I'm not even getting started on the 72% Tax we pay on petrol etc.
N/A

Peak Oil

In a free market, the price of goods is set by the relationship between supply and demand. So if your oil by-products are too expensive, don't buy them!

And the tax on petrol is imposed by the elected government, not the oil companies, by the way.
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,878
Registered: 04-04-2007

Peak Oil

And if they didn't tax fuel they would have to tax everyone in some other way to balance the costs of running the govenment out.

Chris
N/A

Peak Oil

Quote
At current rates of consumption, there's probably 30+ years of oil left.
But as I understand it, the problem's not so much about oil running out, but rather hitting Hubbert's Peak, and production going into decline?

What do you make of the abiotic theory of oil formation btw? Have you ever encountered this?
N/A

Peak Oil

Chris,

I don't doubt it for a moment, but I'm at the sharp end of that tax, as I travel 30,000 a year Sad

sterndale, yes but the supply is controlled largely by a cartel (Opec), and thus is the price to some degree. It's not a true free market.

Aaron
N/A

Peak Oil

Whilst the mere continued existence of Opec means it isn't an absolutely free market, Opec no longer really controls prices. In the 1970s Opec was responsible for producing so large a percentage of world oil that it could alter oil prices merely by suggesting a change in production. By contrast, in the last year Opec has been manifestly unable to change oil prices at all.

This is for two reasons:
a) The percentage of global production controlled by Opec is falling (thanks to the rise of Russia, West Africa and Brazil, amongst others).

b) The lack of refineries for the (poorer) grades of oil produced in Opec countries means that Opec oil is less valuable, therefore has less influence on prices.

Recently Ali al Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, offered at a significant discount up to 1 million barrels/day of extra oil to whoever asked for it, io demonstrate how the current high oil prices were not the result of Opec (in)activity. Nobody took him up on the offer, notwithstanding the low price, because the oil in question was sour, meaning full of sulphides, and Western refineries that can process this type of oil are few and already running at full capacity.

Atomik:
The abiogenic theory is largely proposed by one man: Thomas Gold. However, he makes a disproportionate amount of noise. Frankly, I've never met a professional working in the oil industry who believed the abiogenic theory. In fact, during my academic career (I did a PhD in oil geology) I never met a believer of the abiogenic theory either.