Taskforce_Unity wrote:For those who don't grasp EROEI for oil production say i have a stripper well. It produces only 2 barrels per day at the moment after a grand era of great oil production. Now the question is at what point is the energy that it costs to run the stripper well, refine the oil and transport it more then the oil can give you.
You shouldn't include the costs of refining the oil, or transporting it. The person running the stripper well will only stop pumping when the energy costs for his business exceed the value of the energy produced.
Depending on how expensive different kinds of energy are, the operator may keep producing with EROEI=1. For example, even if it takes 1 million btus (1 MMbtu) of energy to pump out 1 MMbtu of oil, the operator can use coal as the source energy and still make a profit.
Cheap coal only costs $0.45/MMbtu, while oil costs $9.14/MMbtu. So if you run the pump on coal, you can make a profit of $8.61 for each MMbtu of coal (45 cents) invested. That's a great return, so the operator will not stop.
The operator does not care about the costs of refining or transport, or any other process after the oil leaves the premises. Those costs do not appear on the operator's balance sheet, and thus will not affect the operators calculation of when it is logical to stop pumping.
I'm purely talking about energy content here, not about if the oil would be of more practical use EVEN if it costs more energy to produce etc. So does anybody have any idea if this is a possible scenario or that the oil content is SO big that it will never go below zero??
I'm not sure if this answers your question, but I don't believe decreasing EROEI will ever have a significant effect on oil production. My feeling is that even the crappiest, hardest to deliver oil plays (deep ocean etc.) have such a large EROEI that we will run out of conventional oil before its EROEI problems get large enough to bother with.
You can see this by looking at the figures I gave. The U.S. has been over its Hubbert peak for about 35 years, and yet the EROEI of U.S. oil is still in the neighborhood of 40. The oil's not getting harder to pump. It's still just as easy to pump as ever. It's running out.