Tuesday 28 September 2010

The Bet that Ruined the World: Simon vs. Erlich

"World Energy Systems are a Mess"

New book on Peak Oil by Hirsc, Bezdek & Wendling out in Oct, 2010

Robert L. Hirsch, who authored one of the first studies into the mitigation of the effects of Peak Oil, has written a new book on what the decline of oil production means and what will be the likely high level effects of that.

While many books on Peak oil have concentrated on what it is and why it is happening, only a few have tried to analytically tackle the high level view of what are the possible consequences. Some take the effects for granted, while others linger in doom-and-gloom scenarios of total civilization collapse.

Thus, the new book 'World Energy Mess' is a welcome overview for those who have not keenly followed the depleting liquid fuel production issue for the past years.

What is the summary of the authors then? Shortly:

  • Within next 2-5 years world liquid fuels production will begin to decline most likely
  • There are no quick fixes to remedy this downfall in production
  • Societal adjustments will be dramatic, sweeping and pragmatic rather than just or optimal

For the technically minded, they forecast the start of decline (end of plateau) by 2012-2015, with an aggregate overall decline rate of 2-4% p.a., worldwide GDP reduction for next 10years after the peak (perhaps in the order of -20% to -30% combined). His quick list for preparation  are listed in his ASPO-USA interview: interest bearing annuities, gold, close to markets/mass transit, fuel efficient transport. Sounds very reasonable.

In an interview with a French journalist, Mr Hirsch also states that all of Bush and Obama administration are aware of peak oil, but that Department of Energy has been actively discouraged not to research or to talk about the issue any more.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

To understand the Finance Crisis of 2007-20XX, you need to see this movie.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Easy oil over - time for prices to go up

"With the age of easy oil over, and the consequent higher costs of new supply, the challenges of matching supply and demand are not likely to decrease." - Andrew Gould, Schlumberg

Andrew Gould, CEO at Schlumberg

One of the biggest oil service companies in the world, Schlumberg, is forecasting good business for it's own operations in the coming years.


As explorations and reserves are dwindling down, the oil supply has to be produce from an ever increasing number of wells from ever increasingly difficult places like deep-water wells.

Most big international oil companies do not have the equipment and expertise on this and rely on companies like Schlumberg to actually produce the oil out of the ground. The same is also true increasingly for the national oil companies, that have to turn more and more towards international oil service operators in search of skilled manpower.

All this is good if you want to invest in oil service sector. However, Schlumberg's oil service CEO also reminds us that the oil price has to go higher for the industry to manage the costs of finding and producing the oil that the world requires.

Yes, it is possible that Mr Gould is talking his own book, but he also has one of the most realistic views onto what is actually needed to produce the oil.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Bending the Curves - Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström (Stockholm Resilience Centre) @ TED

What are the planetary boundaries?

What are the pressures on the planet earth?

How much are we consuming resources?

How much time do we have to change?


Sunday 5 September 2010

Doom Porn #2 - Collapse by Michael C. Ruppert

"Think for yourself"

The Energy Standard doesn't do regular doomish scenarios and gloom-doom-mongering, but doom-porn has it's uses. It forces us to think the unthinkable.

So, with that said, here's a link to Michael C. Ruppert interview movie by Chris Smith:

Disclose.tv - collapse an interview with michael ruppert 1of 6 Video

Click to follow to the site for the other pieces. And yes, consider buying, renting or loaning the movie and shaking up your friends and colleagues. It's great for stimulating conversation.

Thursday 2 September 2010

World oil peak / plateau delayed to 2020-2025?

What has been the effect of the financial crises and the consequent worldwide recession on world oil peak timing? The reasoning is that as the oil consumption has been marginally reduced due to worldwide recession and slow/fearful recovery, the amount of reserves saved has been considerable.

This saving of reserves and potential consumption capacity may be partially offset in time by the fact that a lot of new oil production projects have been postponed due to lack of funding and lousy economic prospects (i.e. lower price of oil and higher uncertainty).

So what is the overall effect of reduced consumption and postponed production?

There has been no thorough bottom-up studies of this, but in a recent interview (part 1, part 2) oil expert Michael R. Smith from Datamonitor (previously Energyfiles Ltd.) gave his guesstimate of things developing as we go forward:

"I feel the peak/plateau period is much delayed because of the recession. Currently I am looking at around 2020 - perhaps as late as 2025. But of course it is dependent on what happens to the global economy (and the environment) between now and then. When I first started forecasting in the late 1990s, I had a production plateau beginning around 2016. Over time, supplies got tighter and tighter and oil prices started to rise, and the plateau moved nearer to around 2012. Now it has moved out to 2020, showing how uncertain this modeling can be because so many technological, financial, political and social variables are at work. The fluctuation points to volatility of course which is a signal of tight energy supply. If there is a new surge in economic growth and China and India continue to grow and mop up oil supplies, then it will move back to 2016 very quickly." - Michael R. Smith of Energyfiles Ltd / Datamonitor, in an interview with ASPO USA, 8/2010 [emphasis added]
So there you have it. If we grow, the peak moves towards us quickly as demand grows.

If the world muddles along slowly, the peak could take another 10 years or more, but not a lot of new capacity would come forward and if oil prices stay relatively stable, neither would alternatives.

Also, the faster we ramp up the production/consumption, the faster the decline is likely to be.

So, fast evolving crisis in c. 2016 or slowly evolving adjustment in 2020+?

Certainly the latter, but everybody wants the economy to grow faster.

And if it does, another price crunch is just around the corner.