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Page added on August 24, 2013

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Peak oil is dead: long live peak oil!

Peak oil is dead: long live peak oil! thumbnail

Perhaps the news of the death of Peak Oil have been a bit exaggerated. Despite the tsunami of hype related to the new dreams of abundance, the concept of peak oil remains entrenched simply because it makes sense.

Some economists have been arguing for decades that depletion was not an urgent problem and sometimes that it wasn’t a problem at all. Among them, Julian Simon attained worldwide fame for stating that mineral resources would last “billions of years” (or perhaps forever) on the basis of the price trends of five mineral commodities over a few decades. Subtle arguing that plays on our tendency of preferring good news; however it is not possible to completely dispel this simple nagging idea that when you are using something that can’t be replaced, eventually you’ll run out of it.

As witness of the penetration of the peak oil concept, you can give a look to the recent book by Vladimir Lopez Arismendi, “The End of the Oil Age” (which, unfortunately, I think exists only in Spanish for the time being). It is a review of everything we know about peak oil, seen in the correct sense, that is as the result of dynamic force that are created from the gradually declining EROEI of the source.

For Lopez-Arismendi, peak oil is something obvious, part of his world view. So much that he explores its consequences for his own country, Venezuela. In his opinion, Venezuelan oil resources could outlive the world peak of at least a few decades and give to the country a chance for investing into sustainable infrastructures and move smoothly into the post-oil world.

You see? Peak-thinking generates similar thoughts. After all, that’s what most of us have been thinking: that the peak was not only a problem, but also an opportunity to take humankind into a cleaner and better world. It didn’t happen: we couldn’t imagine the rabid reaction of society. We couldn’t think that humans would decide to sacrifice literally everything they have in order to squeeze out the last drops of combustible liquids out of an exhausted planet.

Can Venezuela do better than that? If history is a guide, I’d say no. But, the future always surprises us. So, who knows?

Cassandra’s Legacy



2 Comments on "Peak oil is dead: long live peak oil!"

  1. J-Gav on Sat, 24th Aug 2013 2:59 pm 

    I tend to agree with Ugo Bardi here – when he suggests that Venezuela is just as likely to make a hash of their resource endowment as anybody else.

  2. bobinget on Sat, 24th Aug 2013 6:12 pm 

    When we talk future oil from Venezuela we get slapped upside the head by both ultra expensive, ultra deep water drilling and just plain expensive Orinoco oil sands deposits. Both have second and third mortgages
    with China who who will determine how much oil gets allocated to the US.

    As Canada’s oil sands have been operational for at least three decades, with several huge expansions coming on line this year, ‘we’ have a big jump on ‘The Orinoco’.

    Which of course gets us to XL Pipeline. Planned to fill Venezuela’s void with Canadian bitumen to be refined on the Gulf Coast and shipped to South American ports. Now, that WAS the plan, long before North Dakota surpassed Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska in production. That was the plan before construction delays forced producers to find other methods of transportation in rail. Tank car makers are welding day and night to fill tanker shortages.

    As additional oil sands projects come on line, additional railcars will become available. IMO,
    Keystone Extension (XL) is completely moot ….
    UNTIL… the inevitable major rail accident and spill.
    (President O has delayed XL approval, again, till 2014)

    BTW, Canada has approved a pipeline to carry diluted
    bitumen to Eastern refineries that should help with shedding crude imports on Can’s East Coast. If US demand grows, COS, IMO, XOM, SU etc will simply increase capacity.

    The actual FACT that Canadian and Venezuelan oil sands and ridiculously expensive and dangerous ultra deep water drilling in warm waters, even Arctic, waters, proceeds apace should be proof enough that peak oil is here and has been since 2008.

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