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Is peak oil dead?

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby harrisonlw » Wed 14 Sep 2016, 23:51:42

I feel like this thread is long overdue. This forum has many threads, each with a very specific topic. To any guests who come here though, navigating the forum is complex and it doesn't do much to expand on the fundamental problem of peak oil. Guests who come to this site should see be able to read a thread that covers the general issue, formulates a general consensus and provides an accepted prediction. Obviously, these things are hard to arrive at, but the current threads offer little to guests who come here to learn about peak oil or why it never caused a worldwide shock.

Basically, my question is: is peak oil dead?

The predictions of a fast crash were wrong. It seems like the predictions of a slow crash were also wrong. The price now is quite low, thanks to the supply glut of OPEC and the US. Demand will surely increase in the coming years and decades, but will oil be replaced before then? If not, will it be economically viable to continue to extract unconventional oil? And what about reserves? It is worth noting the IEA, in WEO2015, predicts oil usage at about 103-107 mb/d in 2040 depending on price. Do people think that oil supply will meet that level of demand in 25 years?

Going back to the main question, I suspect that most agree that conventional oil production peaked years ago, but that's not what I'm referring to when I talk about peak oil. The focus seems to have shifted from peak supply to peak demand. Is PD more of a threat to oil than PS?
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby Plantagenet » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 00:41:05

harrisonlw wrote:Basically, my question is: is peak oil dead?


Good question.

Not many people are worried about it anymore. Nonetheless we are still on track to see a large number of giant and supergiant conventional oil fields in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere peak in the next decade or so.

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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby JimBof » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 02:13:20

Peak Oil will happen, the question is as always, when? In what form? Nobody has yet been able to answer these questions accurately, but that has not stopped so many people swearing by their B#@$hit.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby regardingpo » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 02:21:58

Not dead, but most people don't have the balls anymore to say "Collapse will happen in 2020!" because they've been wrong too many times in the past.

But the basic idea that problems with resources, especially in the energy sector, will cause big trouble in the future is still valid. No-one knows exactly how the whole thing will play out. A fast crash is possible at some point, just because it didn't happen yet it doesn't mean it won't.

Also, we did pass peak oil per capita which in my opinion is more important than absolute peak oil. We are also very close to peak energy per capita which is even more important. You are seeing the effects of that right now, I would say that slow crash is in fact happening right now but governments and central banks around the world are doing a great job of kicking the can down the road and extending the Ponzi scheme that they call "the economy".


I will leave you with one more thing to think about. The longer we keep burning fossil fuels, the worse we make the climate change problem. Pick your poison, catch 22 etc.
Last edited by regardingpo on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 03:20:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby regardingpo » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 03:14:23

harrisonlw wrote:The price now is quite low.

The price that consumers can afford to pay really is low.

However, there'a another price. The breakeven price for producers, in other words the cost of production. And that's the problem. The production price is high, and getting higher, that's the long-term trend.

You are not seeing the full effects of this yet, because actually you can further break down the breakeven price in two categories. Imagine you're producing oil, and you'll quickly find yourself asking yourself these two questions:
1. What price do we need to keep pumping oil from fields that we already developed and that are currently in production?
2. What price do we need to invest in new projects?

The second price is higher than the first price. That's why most oil producers can still keep pumping oil at $40 from currently producing oil fields, but they can't afford to invest in future projects.

Global oil and gas investments are expected to fall to their lowest in six years in 2016 to $522 billion, following a 22 percent fall to $595 billion in 2015, according to the Oslo-based consultancy Rystad Energy.

http://roughneckcity.com/roughneck-city ... on-in-2016


harrisonlw wrote:Demand will surely increase in the coming years and decades, but will oil be replaced before then? If not, will it be economically viable to continue to extract unconventional oil?

The question is, is there even such thing as "the goldilocks range" anymore for oil prices? It seems that the prices that the producers need are so high that they end up crashing the economy ($100+). On the other hand, the prices that consumers can afford to pay are so low that they can drive producers out of business ($40-).

Goldilocks zone for oil prices is gone for good

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2 ... -for-good/


harrisonlw wrote:It is worth noting the IEA, in WEO2015, predicts oil usage at about 103-107 mb/d in 2040 depending on price.

It's really not worth noting that, since IEA has never made a correct prediction in the history of their existence. They can't guess what's gonna happen 4 years in the future, let alone 24.


harrisonlw wrote:The focus seems to have shifted from peak supply to peak demand. Is PD more of a threat to oil than PS?

Those who are trying to shift focus to peak demand are just desperate to paint a rosy picture. The idea of peak demand makes it sound like consumers are not buying more oil because they don't want to. In reality they can't afford to buy more.


harrisonlw wrote:And what about reserves?

Most will require a high price to produce. And it's worse than just being about money. EROEI is declining. Focusing on the cost of oil in terms of money is wrong, yet the entire oil industry is doing it because that's how the current economic system works. And that approach is working for now, while EROEI is still high enough.

Once (average) EROEI drops below the level needed to keep the world running, the whole thing will have to end. It's a matter of physics. You know, that real science? Laws of nature and all that? That silly little thing which is infinitely more important than the imaginary world of money that humans have constructed.

Once our energy system can't produce enough net energy to keep things going, it's game over. It will leave a lot in the oil business scratching their heads going "But, but, but, my project was profitable in terms of money, gosh darn it!". And then they will die. The end.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 07:05:09

Regards - Lots of good points. Some of the concepts are still cloudy IMHO. One is the definition of oil demand. Obviously it can't be what consumers WANT TO BUY. Whatever that might be it's certainly much more then is being bought. So demand is what consumers CAN AFFORD TO BUY. And thus the question: how much oil is being produced that consumers aren't buying? But before folks throw out oil going into storage understand that most of that oil is being sold by producers: whether it's a speculator buying contango oil or China filling its SPR it's still consumption. Consumption doesn't just mean burning oil but using oil in whatever manner. What the oil buyer does with the oil (refine it or store it) is invisible to the producers. And one of the constant misinterpretation by many is that often "oil storage " volumes include the normal "working storage". IOW oil that is in the process of being transported and refined. IOW some of the huge stored oil volumes tossed out are actually in the process of being consumed.

And if " contango speculation" isn't understood just search it: lip going into storage due to buyers playing the contango game: buy low - sell high. Those buyers represent another class of oil CONSUMERS just as buyers sending oil to their SPR system.

So back to " peak demand". It seems the only reasonable definition would be that point in time when oil producers cannot sell their oil regardless of how low the price might be. IOW when consumers have no ADDITIONAL use for very cheap oil. As pointed out many times it costs very little to produce EXISTING WELLS compared to drilling new wells. For instance the Rockman has a well in La that cost $4/bbl to PRODUCE. If he had no expectations of higher future prices he would sell it for $6/bbl. After all positive cash flow is the controlling factor.

So here's the real question about the timing of true peak demand: when will consumers (including contango and SPR buyers) have no need for ADDITIONAL oil when it's selling for very little above PRODUCTION COSTS that probably average less the $15/bbl globally? I wouldn't even make a wild ass guess but I doubt it will happen in the next few decades.

And then there's the really important question: what would lead to such a scenario? Perhaps when alt energy sources (including those powering transportation) really become to cheap to meter. Or perhaps when consumers can no longer afford to pay even the very low PRODUCTION costs of existing wells. So how long before either of those two situations develop? IOW that's when there will be a true "oil glut"...when producers have no buyers regardless of how much they lower the price of oil.

Bottom line: for the most part oil demand today at $45/bbl is equal to the oil supplied. Just as it was when oil sold for $100/bbl. The supply/demand dynamic was the same during both periods.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 08:10:17

lets be clear Peak Oil refers to the point of maximum production. That can refer to individual fields, a group of fields, a basin or the world as a whole. It does not necessarily say much about reserves because it is not a requirement that the maximum production equates to half of the recoverable reserves having been produced, I know of many examples where this is just not the case. The peak of production has a number of elements that come into play outside of the geologic (oil in place, effective porosity) or subsurface engineering (viscosity, relative permeability etc). Those factors are always in play (eg: economic feedbacks, imposed sanctions, changes to fiscal regimes, availability of capital, project delays for any number of reasons etc) and contribute not only to what the level of Peak Oil is but also when.

Many here want to change the story (oh its thermodynamics) and make wild unsubstantiated claims to support it (eg. the world can't afford $60 oil ) and others just want to use it as a forum to talk about their own doom scenario as apparently imagining the world falling apart gives them particular joy and they've found a place to share that passion. But the fact remains, it is really about the point of maximum production of all fungible petroleum liquids. What happens after that is largely up for debate and likely has a lot to do with offset of energy needs with renewables, improvements in technology that can increase recovery factor or convert resources to reserves as well as geopolitical factors.

Demand is a complex issue given it is affected by a number of elements as well. When speaking of energy demand as long as the worlds population continues to expand one should expect energy demand to follow suit even if efficiencies increase. The important question is when and to what extent other sources of energy, nuclear, hydro electricity, solar, natural gas and wind can supplant energy demand for oil and liquids. An ideal world would see a mix of energy sources that includes oil but frees up more and more oil for industrial uses (chemicals etc). Almost certainly this mix won't happen on its own and will require some sort of temporary government intervention through tax incentives, research grants, subsidies etc. so I don't think one should hold his/her breath.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby forbin » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 08:24:08

rockdoc123 has it right

peak oil dead?

since when was it "alive" ?

just a mathimatical point in time , thats all , and seen in the rear view mirror.

anything else is your own interpretation and worry
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby radon1 » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 08:35:10

harrisonlw wrote: is peak oil dead?


No.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby ennui2 » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 08:57:10

Peak oil as embodied in the 2000s in the simplicity of Hubbert's curve and the predictions of what would come after the supposed peak of 2005, that peak oil is DEAD AS A DOORNAIL.

What you have in its place are hangers on, like the dregs of a party where most everyone has gone home, people who simply can't accept that the party's over, and who are twisting themselves in pretzels to rationalize why things are the way they are without having to concede being wrong.

As I said in the other thread, give things another year or two of the current status quo and this forum will be nothing but 2-3 ETP zealots circle-jerking each other.

As it is now I can count on one hand the number of posters who, on a given day, say anything even worth reading. Even so, on a given day there isn't much going on within the world stage that should cause one to change their future outlook. Economic metrics (at least in the US) continue to gradually improve. Things like EVs continue to march towards inflection points (witness the recent press-release about the Bolt's range being uprated to over 230 miles a charge). Automation continues apace (which could also reduce oil demand). Meanwhile, the environmental situation is accelerating for the worst, which would reasonably cause someone to be much more concerned about the environment than oil supply.

Again, by definition, anyone who has chosen to hang out here is not really willing to accept any of the above. They are gonna dig their heels in and broadcast their increasingly marginalized red-pill narratives about fast-crash doom. Or maybe they're not fast-crashers anymore but they are just too used to being here through the years so they keep coming and proceed to dump their brain-farts into the forum no matter how off-topic they may be (typically petty politics that are, at best, peripheral to the core issues).

It's been a very very long time since someone posted a thought here that in some way helped better illustrate the situation. Most of the useful contributions have been by people who have successfully proven (not that it needs proving) that the conventional doomer wisdom of the end being nigh and the sky falling were and are wrong.

This does NOT mean the issue goes away forever. It just means it is not particularly relevant within the short time-horizon that human beings need in order to be concerned about it. As we all know, humans heavily discount the future, hence tragedy of the commons.

I have no problem with people expressing general concerns about future fossil fuel supply, but they have as much urgency now as they might have had, let's say, in the late 90s when we were "drownding in oil" as per the economist's cover picture.

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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby Paulo1 » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 08:59:34

Great comments from regard.. the two Rocks...and the last. I agree, it is a mathematical set which will one day be graphed on a timeline for all to say, "aha...it was then".

I always remember just a few things when I think about PO. When I was a little kid living in the Bay Area I distinctly remember one day in particular. I had gone with my Dad to Nixons Garage, our local Texico. My dad was filling up and I asked him about oil and gasoline. (I think I was 7). My Dad explained about oil and how they refined it in places like Vallejo, and turned it into gasoline. He said, "there is more oil in the world than water, we will always have it for our cars and stuff". This was in 1963.

I also remember when the US lost swing-producer status and '73...the nightly news reports on gas lines, even/odd fill-up days, etc.

I think we will also remember these summer doldrum like days of the undulating plateau. We are up a few million, down some, getting by and wondering about these prices? There is conjecture. But....we are also scraping the barrel with tar sands and water-cut crap to keep the numbers stable. Clearly, LTO has limitations too numerous to mention but the production surged this decade, for sure.

I do know this. People are becoming poorer in opportunity and time. This is partly a result of globalization; with technology squeezing our working wallets. I also believe it is the price of energy we are now using. Plus, we are now using debt to replace the 100:1 return of the past.

Personally, I prefer our own family's more constrained lifestyle....using less energy, etc. Good thing, eh? :)
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 09:01:35

Side bar: do I assume correctly that everyone else is seeing just some of the old member forms?
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby P9AKOIL » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 09:25:51

Hello Everyone;

I bet you've already seen this but I figured I would toss it in. Bloomberg apparently thinks Peak Oil is dead and uses the Google search term numbers to 'prove' it:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ ... il-is-dead

I think when we ask if Peak Oil is dead we're asking also where it currently 'ranks' in the general public's mind. I question if searches for it reflect that, or exclusively that or not at all, but I'm sure that Finite doesn't die(even as it's tortured manifestation as peak demand it's still our old friend Finite talking). So the basics of Peak Oil don't die they wax and wane in the public eye until reaching a sort of threshold of commonplaceness.

What the Bloomberg story(the search numbers) reveal to me is a pregnancy not a death.

Thanks, and my apologies for format or timeliness errors- I am somewhat new at this.

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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby AgentR11 » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 09:54:11

peak oil is not dead; it just never meant what the disaster movie and book industry wanted you to believe it meant.

A moment of peak oil production will occur; that is guaranteed by math; but if the peak is 150; and then next year its 149 and next decade its 130; that is still an incredible amount of energy; demand destruction is the tool by which superfluous uses are redacted; and the economy will keep right on churning, as long as it is profitable to move grain from the field to the grocery store. I suspect the point that THAT becomes unsustainable is somewhere around $200 USD2016 per gallon. Just a guess.. could be quite a bit higher.

So no, peakoil will never cause some inflection point crash in the economy and world system resulting in mad max at thunderdome. It will cause a LOT of poverty over time; it will cause some riots, and will cause some true riot response (ie, shoot all the rioters).
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby ennui2 » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 10:10:40

Right now we have two things standing in the way of peak oil doom:

1) it's still a glut
2) the stage is being set for rapid societal adaptations other than Heinberg's preferred powerdown of backyard gardens and donkey-carts. I'm talking about EVs and telecommuting.

The only reason we're wasting so much oil is because we can, not because it's necessary.

Neither of these buffers were in place 10 years ago (well, telecommuting I guess, but bandwidth speeds have improved since then). We're less vulnerable than we were before.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby Revi » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 10:46:29

The media certainly thinks so. Here's an article from the Daily Caller in which he decides that peak oil is dead based on how often it's googled. I guess it's all based on how popular it is as a theory. I just read the Oracle about Hubbert and how he tried to get people to pay attention, but it wasn't popular either. I was told by a person who works for the energy department of the US Government that "those guys were crazy." So the prevailing view is that peak oil is dead.

http://dailycaller.com/2016/09/13/nobod ... l-anymore/
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby Hawkcreek » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 11:10:19

How often something is googled has nothing to do with whether or not it is dead or alive.
It was pointed out that Peak Oil is just a number, representing the maximum production point of oil. That number is still in the future (if you consider that unconventional oil is still refined and the BTU's are used as an near oil equivalent).
Even when that number is reached, Peak Oil will still be a valuable concept, if only from a historical standpoint. All resources deplete, and all reach their point of maximum production.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby regardingpo » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 11:13:08

ennui2 wrote:the stage is being set for rapid societal adaptations other than Heinberg's preferred powerdown of backyard gardens and donkey-carts. I'm talking about EVs and telecommuting.


No, the stage is absolutely not set for anything of the kind. You just like to play resident cornucopian a little too much. Even Elon Musk is pessimistic about his own industry (this is in the context of climate change, but he's talking about transitioning to EVs):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xva5-dYOv0U
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby ennui2 » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 11:25:13

He's pessimistic because it's a glut and there isn't enough pain at the pump to justify switching to EVs.

You can bet EV sales would pick up if gas were $4+ a gallon. Thankfully, when we get there, the technology and manufacturing capacity will be ready.
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Re: Is peak oil dead?

Unread postby regardingpo » Thu 15 Sep 2016, 11:39:52

That's not what he said, but whatever. At least I understand where you're coming from now - technology will fix everything, nothing to see here, move along.

Where's the chart guy when you need him lol?
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