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Page added on December 27, 2011

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Net-energy (eroei) for dummies, aka peak oil deniers

Here’s a brief explanation of why net-energy aka EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) debunks claims of “energy independence” from U.S. shale oil deposits like the Bakken Formation in North Dakota & Montana. Yes, drilling technology has improved yields, but only incrementally, not exponentially. And that’s why shale remains an abundant delusion.

Per the USGS, Bakken shale yields may never exceed 2 or 3%, and are typically on the order of 1% (the bulk of energy input is wasted). The shale exists over a wide area, but in shallow layers, and its porosity is highly variable. Hopefully, the analogy of getting water from clay vs. a lake will open some eyes on this topic.

Various official reports on the Bakken shale and other formations (e.g. http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1911) have been taken out of context by people who ignore total fuel and water consumption required to extract even a small fraction of hypothetical reserves. Many “conservatives” claim that loosening environmental regulations would create miraculous yields from energy-poor shale. They are deluded on many levels, including the idea that more pollution means progress.

A 2006 EIA report (ftp://ftp.eia.doe.gov/features/ngshock.pdf) led to false claims of of “503 billion” (also cited as “504 billion”) recoverable barrels in the Bakken, when it really meant gross potential reserves, not accounting for EROEI. Internet chain letters have broadcast false hype to the right-wing echo chamber. Read that EIA report for the true context.

Realistic recoverable oil from Bakken is under 5 billion barrels, or less than a year of total U.S. consumption. Contrast that with crackpots like Michelle Bachmann calling America the new “Saudi Arabia,” as if we haven’t spent the last century depleting all our cheap oil! Born-again oil-shills think the past doesn’t matter. It seems a lot of them confuse millions of barrels with billions, and America can easily burn 20 million barrels each DAY.

This concept also applies to any fossil fuel that’s progressively more difficult to extract over time, such as ever-deeper offshore drilling, lower-grade goal and the need for natural gas fracking. The cheap, easy stuff is long gone and it’s reflected in prices, if nothing else will convince deniers.



4 Comments on "Net-energy (eroei) for dummies, aka peak oil deniers"

  1. BillT on Tue, 27th Dec 2011 2:49 pm 

    Ignorance (uneducated) is wide-spread in America. Denial is more often because they are carefully fed BS by the US news outlets than because they don’t understand.

    It was once called propaganda or brainwashing … but those are not socially acceptable terms in today’s corporate owned world. Can’t have the sheeple thinking for themselves.

  2. MrEnergyCzar on Wed, 28th Dec 2011 5:09 am 

    The masses will learn the hard way after the facts finally go mainstream….

    MrEnergyCzar

  3. cusano on Thu, 29th Dec 2011 12:21 am 

    EROEI is the name of the game, and it WILL be the game changer.

  4. BillT on Thu, 29th Dec 2011 1:35 am 

    ERoEI is like gravity. You ignore it at your own peril, but the end result is not pleasant.

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