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Has World Oil Production Passed Its Peak? 1250

dido writes "Princeton University geology Professor Kenneth Deffeyes has been studying world petroleum production data and has come to the conclusion that the world hit peak oil last December 16, 2005. If he is correct, total world oil production will never surpass what was produced last December. From the article: 'Compared to 2004, world oil production was up 0.8 percent in 2005, nowhere near enough to compensate for a demand rise of roughly 3 percent. The high prices did not bring much additional oil out of the ground. Most oil-producing countries are in decline."
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Has World Oil Production Passed Its Peak?

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  • by zekt ( 252634 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:09AM (#14730346)
    There are a hell of a lot of other things which do not go to waste during the production process of oil and gas. Examples include the tar/bitumen you put on roads and paths, chemcials that go into make plastics - the list goes on (just hit wikipedia and look up Oil Refinery). Point being that most of these 'by products' are all consumed at the rate they are produced... they are going into useful products. You can expect to see rises across the board for all of these products as well.

    Cutting down oil use is not going to be just about cutting petrol/gas usgae - it is going to be about making more durable consumable products than are currently churned out - and being happy to pay top dollar for them (just like out parents had to). Believe it or not, the 'good old days' of 'well built products' may just come back... that should make our grand parents happy.
  • by P0ldy ( 848358 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:22AM (#14730405)
    In 2004, 30 billion barrels of oil were consumed worldwide, while only eight billion barrels of new oil reserves were discovered. Huge, easily exploitable oil fields are most likely a thing of the past. In August 2005, the International Energy Agency reported annual global demand at 84.9 million barrels per day (mbd) which means over 31 billion barrels annually. This means consumption is now within 2 mbd of production. At any one time there are about 54 days of stock in the OECD system plus 37 days in emergency stockpiles.
    -- Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:Further articles (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:24AM (#14730412)
    A huge chunk of Saudi exports come from one gigantic field

    Yawn. Saudi is number 3 on the list of oil exporters to the US, led by Canada and Mexico. In Canadian oil sands alone there is a 100 year known reserve, with even larger deposits of frozen methane off the West coast. So meh.

    Also, over-extraction can reduce long-term production but that is cured by shutting in wells then letting them re-pressurize. So meh again.

  • Peak what??? (Score:2, Informative)

    by elzbal ( 520537 ) <elzbal AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:25AM (#14730417) Homepage
    So we can now make predictions about permanent peaks in vastly complex - and to a great extent, cyclical - industrial systems only two months after the peak? If we determine a peak after two years, I might believe it. Two decades, I'd certainly believe it. Two centuries, I'd say it was fact.

    But two months?

    In other news, according to my analysis of the decline of light since I awoke, peak brightness was 10 hours ago. In other news, I became increasingly agitated over the last 5 minutes, and I reached peak happiness 7 minutes ago. :(
  • Oil sands (Score:3, Informative)

    by Belseth ( 835595 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:32AM (#14730446)
    I've been reading about Canadian oil sands since the 1970s. They used to be a curiousity because the oil was too expensive to extract. Well with the spike in oil prices they are now competitive and have the advatange of not getting more expensive to extract. The estimates run between a 200 to 400 year supply. I hate to see them become the answer because it means more CO2 but they won't run out in our lifetimes. If you want proof Bush only cares about backing the American oil companies he won't even discuss Canadian oil with Canada. China is the country pursing Canada. Our oil companies don't control it so we aren't interested. This is about corporate profits. Shortages cause price increases which increase profits. The irony is if they can drive prices up enough Canada is going to get as rich as Saudia Arabia and they won't run out in a hundred years. The governemnt is shooting us in the foot and no one is even talking about it.
  • by paul-h-squared ( 202475 ) <akccqzi02NO@SPAMsneakemail.com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:46AM (#14730502) Homepage
    It was US oil production that peaked in the 1970s, not global oil production. There's a huge difference there.
  • many more baskets (Score:2, Informative)

    by dbcad7 ( 771464 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:51AM (#14730529)
    Only 12 percent of the oil The US imports comes from the Mideast.. So the Saudi share must be less than that. What is amazing is that a conflict such as Iraq has affected the price so dramaticly considering this percentage.. and the fact that the oil has not stopped flowing. The original price hikes were insurance do to "possible" stoppages from the conflict.. of course, I guess it's like getting a raise at work, you never want to make less after that. Let's face it, it's going to take some type of serious government price and profit controls to turn back the clock.. and it will be painful to see, but if no one is willing to buy at those prices because they can't make any money, then the producers will have to drop the price.

    Good luck seeing this happen in this administration, regardless of the BS of reducing americas "addiction" that Bush spouted off... Sheesh he sounded like he was part of the green party !... I beleive this about as much as I beleive he didn't really know there were no WMD's in Iraq... Bush will let the inevitable happen, inflation is coming.. because it has to, to pay for these increased costs.

  • Re:Why the peak? (Score:5, Informative)

    by FreakWent ( 627155 ) <tf@ft.net.au> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:56AM (#14730548)
    Well, what happens when you open an oil field is that it takes some time to ramp up. Start with a small rig, lay some pipelines, add more, larger rigs, bigger pipelines, more rigs etc. This provides the leading edge of the curve. This can be very steep in modern fields where many sophisticated high-capacity rigs are slapped in, as opposed to oil fields which were first exploited 50 years or so ago which used slower more incremental improvements, so different fields will have slightly different slope curves.

    At some point, the oil is not under so much pressure and doesn't squirt out so much. Perhaps the oil men need to drill deeper, or sideways, or use other fancy techniques and so the take per day is reduced. This may go on for some time, forming a flattening of the peak at the top. Maybe. More often, and especially over the last 20 - 30 years, the field is run flat out for as long as possible, so production stops more quickly.

    As production dwindles, other techniques come into play, like forcing in seawater under pressure to push the oil out (as in Saudi Arabia), and many of these can damage the field, reducing the long term extraction total in favour for a higher extraction rate today. As time goes on it becomes harder and more expensive to extract the oil (diminishing returns) and eventually it's just not worth it, so the field is closed down.

    This is the idea, there's a curve for every well and every field. If you add all the curves together, then you get one big curve, whith "Hubbert's Peak" in teh middle (the geologist who first noticed the production bell curve).

    Now the problem isn't that suddenly all the oil's gone when we wake up next tuesday, it's that this month/year we produced less than last month/year, but -- and this is the problem -- we use MORE than last month/year. Demand is growing faster than ever before, just at the time when the supply is starting to drop off. This causes price increases and countries can be expected to squabble over an oil supply which continues to become smaller.

    As an aside, people like to say that "They've been prediciting this for years, it's never happened before so whay should it happen now?" The answer is that it's been predicted to happen now. I have a text book from 1954 (that's over 50 years ago) which predicted that demand would exceed supply around the year 2000 -- and you could argue that we are later that this because of improved extraction (not production, you extract oil) technology and because of a drop in consumption from teh late 70's oil shocks.

    The supply/demand gap is a political and economic (and military?) problem in itself -- whether or not there's still enough oil to make all the toy for the happy meals might be a problem, but even if it isn't, the gap between supply and demand is a big enough problem all by itself.

    peakoil.net is where to go to explore the argument in detail -- it's not a greenie thing, it's not a anti-american thing, it's to do with geology and chemistry. Beware of people who quote reserve figures, not only to countries lie outright about the figures, but quoting reserves is a potential -- you can't ever get every single barrel out of the ground and leave dry dust behind, lots remains and will never be extracted. As for scientists saving us, bear in mind that the warnings of peak and the warnings that alternatives like ethanol are almost useless are coming from eminent, experienced talented scientists. Science is not magic, if we're using too many joules per day then you can't just create it. I'm delighted to discuss why every alternative is doomed, try me at drose@dtlm.homelinux.net and I'll explain why I reckon population will halved in the next fifty years.

  • by bobwoodard ( 92257 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @03:01AM (#14730562)
    Here are some quotes from the National Center For Policy Analysis, regarding Oil Peaks and attempting to forecast oil production:

    In 1855, an advertisement for Kier's Rock Oil advised consumers to "hurry, before this wonderful product is depleted from Nature's laboratory."

    In 1874, the state geologist of Pennsylvania, the nation's leading oil-producing state, estimated that only enough U.S. oil remained to keep the nation's kerosene lamps burning for four years.

    In May 1920, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the world's total endowment of oil amounted to 60 billion barrels.

    In 1950, geologists estimated the world's total oil endowment at around 600 billion barrels.

    From 1970 through 1990, their estimates increased to between 1,500 and 2,000 billion barrels.

    In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey raised the estimate to 2,400 billion barrels, and their most recent estimate (2000) was of a 3,000-billion-barrel endowment.

    By the year 2000, a total of 900 billion barrels of oil had been produced. Total world oil production in 2000 was 25 billion barrels. If world oil consumption continues to increase at an average rate of 1.4 percent a year, and no further resources are discovered, the world's oil supply will not be exhausted until the year 2056.

    The estimates above do not include unconventional oil resources. Conventional oil refers to oil that is pumped out of the ground with minimal processing; unconventional oil resources consist largely of tar sands and oil shales that require processing to extract liquid petroleum. Unconventional oil resources are very large. In the future, new technologies that allow extraction of these unconventional resources likely will increase the world's reserves.

    Oil production from tar sands in Canada and South America would add about 600 billion barrels to the world's supply.

    Rocks found in the three western states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming alone contain 1,500 billion barrels of oil.

    Worldwide, the oil-shale resource base could easily be as large as 14,000 billion barrels -- more than 500 years of oil supply at year 2000 production rates.

    Unconventional oil resources are more expensive to extract and produce, but we can expect production costs to drop with time as improved technologies increase efficiency.

    With every passing year it becomes possible to exploit oil resources that could not have been recovered with old technologies. The first American oil well drilled in 1859 by Colonel Edwin Drake in Titusville, Pa. -- which was actually drilled by a local blacksmith known as Uncle Billy Smith -- reached a total depth of 69 feet (21 meters).

    Today's drilling technology allows the completion of wells up to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) deep.

    The vast petroleum resources of the world's submerged continental margins are accessible from offshore platforms that allow drilling in water depths to 9,000 feet (2,743 meters).

    The amount of oil recoverable from a single well has greatly increased because new technologies allow the boring of multiple horizontal shafts from a single vertical shaft.

    Four-dimensional seismic imaging enables engineers and geologists to see a subsurface petroleum reservoir drain over months to years, allowing them to increase the efficiency of its recovery.

    New techniques and new technology have increased the efficiency of oil exploration. The success rate for exploratory petroleum wells has increased 50 percent over the past decade, according to energy economist Michael C. Lynch.
  • Oil sands reality (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @03:36AM (#14730697) Homepage
    The oilsands in Alberta, Canada are currently estimated to hold over a trillion barrels of reachable oil.

    But getting it out is tough. First, read this fact sheet from the Athabasca Oil Sands Developers. [oilsands.cc] Current production is about 1 million barrels/day. This should be up to 2 million per day by 2010, and 4 million per day in 2015. That's about where the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia is now. If everything works out right, Athabasca might be able to keep up with the decline of Middle East oil fields. (Incidentally, production in Kuwait peaked last November, somewhat to the surprise of the Kuwaitis.)

    Money is being spent on oil sands development at increasing rates. In 1995, the forecast was CN$5.7 billion over 25 years. Spending is now at CN$9 billion per year and climbing. Payback is slow; more than a decade. This isn't a bonanza business, although at $60 a barrel, it's looking better than it ever did before. The oil sands industry got clobbered when oil prices dropped in the early 1990s. Investors still worry about that, since the actual cost of extracting Saudi oil is somewhere around $3/bbl.

    Extraction from oil sands is a big job. The settling ponds are visible from orbit. Take a look at 57N 111.6W. Those aren't lakes. Those are man-made open pit mines and settling ponds. This is a far more expensive process than drilling and pumping. A ton of sand yields a barrel of oil. You don't even get oil out; you get asphalt, which has to be cracked down to crude oil, then to gasoline. Costs are running around $30/barrel.

    Worse, with current technology, natural gas is used to make the steam to separate the oil from the sand. This is currently a substantial fraction of Canada's natural gas consumption. When natural gas prices go up, so does the cost of oil from oil sands. And it's a wasteful thing to do with natural gas. There's a project underway [nexeninc.com] to build an oil-sands project that's self-fueling, using its own product to generate steam, but it won't be running until 2007. If that project doesn't work out, oil sands are in big trouble.

    If you want a job as a heavy equipment operator, mechanic, or welder, head for Fort McMurray, Alberta. They're hiring. But apartment occupancy is at 100%, so you may end up in worker barracks.

    So that's a more realistic view of Athabasca oil. It's real, but it's not a miracle.

  • by brianthesmurf ( 954896 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @03:59AM (#14730767)
    Instead of worrying about the fact that oil has reached it's peak shouldn't we be figuring out ways of leaving the carbon in the ground? (Remember that greenhouse thingy?) The focus in these debates always seems to be on how to produce more energy not use less. And that while we could easily save almost 50% of consumption using currently available technologies. If youu're interested in more details see this link from the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4633160. stm [bbc.co.uk] "Energy's 'low hanging fruit'" by Dr Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
  • by viking2000 ( 954894 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:07AM (#14730798)
    Mankind is of course a cancer on this earth, and will soon exhaust all resources like yeast cells in a vat of merlot, however:

    The article uses an unfounded and probably incorrect basis that production will peak when half the resurces are extracted. This can be a rule of thunb at best. Then it goes on to use this rule to extrapolate a date with 4 decimal digits. That's a joke.

    There are for example enormous oil reserves in oil sand. Possibly more than all other known resources It costs maybe $30/barrel to extract, but at current prices, that is economical.

    Prices will most likely continue to grow moderately as other new resouces become economical. This includes alcohol from grain and sugar cane, natural gas, and nuclear power (At least for stationary power)
  • peakoil.com (Score:4, Informative)

    by tsakach ( 954901 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:36AM (#14730887)
    Peak Oil News and Discussion [peakoil.com] has a lot of info and discussion topics on Peak Oil. It even mentions the current slashdot peak oil thread.
  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:42AM (#14730904) Homepage
    No way turkey guts or rapeseed oil scales up to 80 billion barrels per day. And biodiesel production is alrealy creating huge ecological problems. The most efficient way to make it is with palm oil, and as demand for palm oil has increased, huge areas of rain forest have been cleared to make palm plantations.
  • by SiliconEntity ( 448450 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:53AM (#14730938)
    There are two questions here. The first is, why isn't the futures market forecasting price increases for oil? And the second is, if you do believe in Peak Oil, how should you invest?

    There are a few answers to the first question. Maybe the futures market is wrong. However, everyone there is betting hard-earned money on future oil prices, so if anyone is informed about what is likely to happen with the oil situation, you'd think it would be oil traders. Or, maybe Peak Oil theory is wrong. The futures market only goes out about five years and maybe oil won't peak until, say, ten years from now. That's not Deffeyes' time line but there are a lot of other Peak Oil theorists and many of them put the peak in the 2010s.

    An interesting third alternative is that we could see a peak but that the price of oil might not rise. This would mean there must be a serious drop in demand, and the most plausible scenario would be a worldwide recession. If $60 oil sends the U.S. and the rest of the world into a recession, and continued high prices make it an "I've fallen and can't get up" situation, we could see an ongoing economic crunch coupled with oil prices similar to today's levels, as the futures market predicts.

    For the second question, suppose you're convinced that the futures market is simply wrong and that oil will be well over $100 by 2010, maybe even over $200. What should you do? The problem with buying futures is that people usually buy them on margin, basically putting 10% down or so. And then, if the price reverses for them by about that amount, 10%, they are wiped out. So even if they bet right in the long run, they are likely to be closed out before they get there, and they lose everything. You can fix this by not using margin, but then your profit opportunities are limited. If oil ends up being two or three times higher than everyone else thought, you would only double or triple your money, but that is not enough reward for being right on an issue that everyone else thought was a thousand-to-one shot.

    The better choice is futures options. For a few thousand dollars you can buy an option whose value will be 1000 times (oil price - $100). If oil got to $200 your few thousand dollars would turn into $100,000. And you don't get wiped out by any fluctuations along the way; you pay up front, then sit tight and wait to get lucky. The down side is that you lose your entire investment if oil is less than $100 at the end, but it was only a few thousand dollars, which you should be able to afford if you're thinking about this.

    This is what Deffeyes was talking about doing. I'm thinking of taking a flyer myself. It's safer for long-term investments because there's less chance of a temporary reversal wiping you out. For shorter terms the futures have some advantages over options, in that if the price doesn't quite reach your target but comes close, you can recover a substantial part of your investment.
  • by mikerich ( 120257 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:55AM (#14730949)
    In the mean time, out here in the real world, the Saudis are ramping up production 50 percent in the next several years, and oil shale and tar sands are economically viable.

    The Saudis claim they can can ramp up production, the reality on the ground is slightly different. In the 1980s Saudi Arabia added 88 billion barrels to its reserves without drilling a single well. The reason why? OPEC allocates exports on the basis of reserves - the more you have in your reserves, the more you can pump. At the same time Kuwait added 26 billion and Abu Dhabi TRIPLED its reserves. None of these countries have allowed external experts to study their reasoning for upping reserves. A team of independent geologists could easily prove these figures, but they are not allowed to do so. Think about that - we might all be banking on a lie.

    Saudi Arabia plans to up production from about 10 million barrels per day to 15 million largely by developing existing fields, not bringing new reserves on-stream. Almost all of this oil will come from the four Saudi superfields - Ghawar, Safaniyah, Hanifa and Khafji - each of which is over 50 years old - an extraordinarily long period of time for a field to be productive. Almost 5 million barrels will come from Ghawar alone.

    So can they do it? Seems unlikely, Saudi Aramco refuses to open its books, but the claimed figure of 258 billion barrels seems to be very high, a former director of Aramco has publicly said that proven reserves are no more than 130 billion barrels and the remainder must be extrapolated.

    Other reports are coming out of Saudi Arabia that water is entering the oil wells which implies that the fields are near the end of their lives. Even Aramco admits that huge amounts of water must be injected into fields to maintain current production.

    There are also serious reports that Saudi overproduction in the past has caused serious damage to the fields and that they will never generate the normal amount of oil that can be recovered from well-managed fields.

    Tar sands - okay, let's set aside (as if we could) the environmental devastation these plants are wreaking on the Canadian landscape and the hideous greenhouse emissions related to producing syncrude. Let's take a look at the energy needed to make syncrude. Tar sand extraction in Canada uses natural gas to heat water; in 2004 Canada produced about 1 million barrels of syncrude per day which consumed 0.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Plans are to go to 2.2 million bpd which would consume 1.3 billion cubic feet of gas. So how are Canada's gas reserves? Production in 2003 (the last year I had figures) was 16.8 billion cubic feet per day - a 0.5 billion cubic foot DECREASE on the previous year. Canada's gas fields are entering long-term decline, just as a significant draw on their reserves comes along. Using natural gas to make LNG would make significantly better economic and environmental sense.

    Oil shale in the American West is a non-goer, there simply isn't enough water around. The only significant source is the Colorado River which is overtapped already.

    And with that, I'm off to work.


  • by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:56AM (#14730953)

    Oil discoveries have been surpassed by consumption in the mid-eighties. I remember a presentation with a simple chart at the Annual Meeting of AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) 2005, Cincinnati about this. Since the usual lag between discovery and commencement of production is about 15 years (this is what I remember from my course in energy economy), the production peak was expected already about 2000. A few factors (wars, Russian oil becoming available to the west, etc) delayed this, but it's not like people never saw this coming.

    New oil fields are being found all the time, but this is not compensating enough for the depletion of previous oil fields.

    In case you wondered what is going to happen, remember that US production already peaked a long time ago (in 1971 if my memory serves me). In 1973 the Saudis noticed that they held the big levers now (Americans could not flood the marked anymore), and took the chance to become the market leaders.

    What this means to us is exponential growth in gasoline prices. Smart countries stopped producing power with oil long ago (think oil crisis), moving to coal or nuclear for energy security (not necessarily because they were cheaper). Coal is going to be soon the most competitive fuel for power production. Nuclear will likely stay there in the corner where its poor economics has put it, since there is enough coal to burn all oxygen in the atmosphere.

    Given that most transportation and building-heating sectors are based on oil in most countries and that these are big chunks of the total energy consumption, I expect some countries will find it cheaper to steal oil invading oil-rich countries, especially those countries that are very oil-intensive and where conservation is not considered an attractive option.

    Furthermore, the US now have a base of operations (Iraq) in the middle of everything in the Middle East, already up and running. Invading the whole Middle East could become a real option in the next decades (it was actually already contemplated in 1973, but then we had the Soviet Union).

    Interesting book to read: The end of oil, Paul Roberts, ISBN 0618239774 [wikipedia.org].

  • by nicklott ( 533496 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @04:57AM (#14730956)
    Unfortuately the figures you quote seem to come from the USGS, who are notorious for massively overstating available reserves (the current administration likes optimistic oil figures). Non-governmental bodies have been largley agreeing with this article that the peak will be passed sometime between now and 2010 for a good few years now.

    While there are probably quite a few ANWR size fields around, they're only big enough to keep the hummers running for a couple of months. There simply are no new big reservoirs to be found.

    There certainly is a lot more oil available in unconvential forms, but the financial and environmental cost of extracting these starts making even hydrogen look cheap. All that new tech can only delay the inevitable by a few years.

    If you haven't already, read "The end of oil" by paul roberts. Written by an oil industry journalist, his basic conclusion in the end is that the only way to put back the inevitable is simply by using less of it. No one needs 6mpg autos, expecially not when new production cars now routinely get upwards of 70mpg in europe (without all that hybrid shit). (I'd actually like to see what the author thinks now, it was written before the current price hikes and he said that a price over $30 was unsustainable. It's now been over $50 for a year.)

  • Re:Oil sands (Score:2, Informative)

    by DesertEagleMan ( 835040 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @05:10AM (#14730989)
    There was an interesting story about the Alberta oilsands on 60 minutes a year ago.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/20/60minute s/main1225184.shtml/ [cbsnews.com]

    According to the guy at Shell Canada, there might be potentially 2 trillion barrels of oil there. However, most of it can't me mined cost effectively... yet.
  • by cheekyboy ( 598084 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @07:08AM (#14731302) Homepage Journal
    If you use up 1 square mile of oil per year, whats left in its space? a giant massive cavern? or sea water?
    * 50 years, theres 50 sq miles of empty earth under saudi.

    UNLESS, oil gets replenished from the mantle.

    There are oil fields that have been proven to be seen replenishing. But at not the same rate as its being
    used, perhaps 1/5th the current usage rate.

    http://educate-yourself.org/cn/oilfieldsrefilling1 0apr05.shtml [educate-yourself.org]

  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @07:09AM (#14731307) Homepage
    So if you don't save more than the $10 extra to manufacture one energy efficient bulb, over its lifetime, in saved electricity, then you have done more harm than good.

    I don't know where you got the idea that manufacturing energy-efficient bulbs costs $10 for a single one. Nor where you buy yours. Like you said, it's competitive, you get good-quality bulbs for half of that today, and they typically last 5 times as long as a traditional bulb.

    Still, 1 low-energy bulb tends to cost say $4 more than 5 comparable-output-and-quality traditional bulbs. It lives something like 10000 hours. Lets do maths:

    • Normal bulbs: 10000h*60w = 600Kwh
    • Low-energy: 10000h*12w = 120Kwh
    • Saved energy: 480Kwh
    • Break-even point (assuming low-energy bulbs cost $4 more upfront) 0.83 cent/kwh
    I don't know what power costs where you live, but most places power costs 10 times that, delivered to the consumer. Even if your $10 was correct (which it isn't) the break-even point for this bulb would still be at 1.6cent/kwh, which is still a lot less than electricity actually costs for consumers.

    It gets sligthly less beneficial if you live somewhere where the extra heat is needed part of the year so it's not simply wasted. In the extreme case: you live in a electrically heated house, and the ligth is *never* on without the ovens also being on, you save nothing at all.

  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @07:24AM (#14731362)
    'In 1855, an advertisement for Kier's Rock Oil advised consumers to "hurry, before this wonderful product is depleted from Nature's laboratory."'

    Since when do you believe an advertisement?

    "In 1874, the state geologist of Pennsylvania, the nation's leading oil-producing state, estimated that only enough U.S. oil remained to keep the nation's kerosene lamps burning for four years."

    Even though this is not an advertisement it was in the 19th century. Technology and science progressed enormously since then.

    "In May 1920, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the world's total endowment of oil amounted to 60 billion barrels."

    The USGS was proven to be wildy inaccurate even in their own country, I quote: "As recently as 1972, the USGS was releasing circulars that estimated US domestic oil production would not peak until well into the 21st century [energybulletin.net], and possibly not until the 22nd century. (See Theobald, Schweinfurth & Duncan, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 650)

    This was despite the fact US production had already peaked in 1970, just as Hubbert had predicted. Richard Heinberg reminds us, "in 1973, Congress demanded an investigation of the USGS for its failure to foresee the 1970 US oil production peak."

    You say, that: "In 1950, geologists estimated the world's total oil endowment at around 600 billion barrels.
    From 1970 through 1990, their estimates increased to between 1,500 and 2,000 billion barrels.


    "In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey raised the estimate to 2,400 billion barrels, and their most recent estimate (2000) was of a 3,000-billion-barrel endowment."

    Actually, no. Please see this link [hubbertpeak.com], I quote: "The USGS 2000 divides the petroleum assessments into 'categories of probability': F95, F50 (i.e. median), F5, and Mean (i.e. arithmetic mean). "F" means fractile, as defined by the USGS", and then "TOTAL GCOE at F95 = (approx.) 2,000 Gb
    TOTAL GCOE at F50 = (approx.) 2,700 Gb
    TOTAL GCOE at F5 = (approx.) 4,900 Gb
    TOTAL GCOE Mean = (approx.) 3,000 Gb

    This means, by their EXTREMELY flawed logic, that if they take the probabilities and get a mean value from them, then thats how many oil is out there, while anything below F50 probability is wishful thinking only, if not outright dreaming. I'd say that the quote: "and the estimates for the world Grown Conventional Oil Endowment will converge somewhere between 2000 and 2200 BBO (i.e. near the F95 estimate in the USGS 2000 report). The peak of world oil production is within sight." is very accurate in describing the real reserves.

    "By the year 2000, a total of 900 billion barrels of oil had been produced. Total world oil production in 2000 was 25 billion barrels. If world oil consumption continues to increase at an average rate of 1.4 percent a year, and no further resources are discovered, the world's oil supply will not be exhausted until the year 2056."

    The problem is not that oil is gone, but that consumption is bigger than production and that production cannot be increased by any significant numbers!

    We currently need 83.5 million barrels per day. We are projected to need 120 million barrels per day by 2020. On the other hand, when|since we hit peak oil production (will) decrease by around 1 million barrels per day of production per year. We just cannot tap into the remaining oil reserves quickly enough and in such way that it would be worth the costs (in monetary and energy terms)!

    Dick Cheney said [peakoil.net], that "By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves.That means by 2010 we w
  • Re:wow. (Score:4, Informative)

    by ichin4 ( 878990 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @07:26AM (#14731371)
    I don't know about "peak oil theory" or othr poor attempts at economic modeling by geology professors, but if you ask an economist, he will tell you what economic theory predicts: a finite resource will be depleted at a rate such at, on average, its price rises at the interest rate. The only "exponential effects" are in the minds of the doom-sayers that the press likes to quote because they make for such great copy.
  • by mikerich ( 120257 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:01AM (#14731459)
    If you use up 1 square mile of oil per year, whats left in its space? a giant massive cavern? or sea water? * 50 years, theres 50 sq miles of empty earth under saudi.

    Errrr no. Oil and gas (and water for that matter) are held in pores in the rock - just as water can be held in the pores of a sponge. Loose sandstones make great oil reservoirs, the Saudi fields are in limestone deposited as dung in shallow seas.

    When you extract the oil the rock remains. No huge caverns, no need for worry.

    The phenomenon of oil field replenishment appears to be a fluke in certain fields which are linked by faults to deeper reserves. Lowering the pressure in the upper part of the field forces oil up by gas and water pressure. It has nothing to do with the highly dubious theory of Mantle oil.


  • by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:54AM (#14731607) Journal
    In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey raised the estimate to 2,400 billion barrels, and their most recent estimate (2000) was of a 3,000-billion-barrel endowment.

    True. However, the USGS is notorious in peak oil circles [energybulletin.net] for having continued to raise estimates of ultimate recoverables (IE, total production possible over human history) in the continental US, even after domestic production had reached and passed the predicted Hubbert Peak (IE, the halfway mark). The USGS 1972 predicted US-48-UR was a value between 2 and 10 times the value currently accepted. (Hubbard, by contrast, was about 10-30% low... from a range of 15 years pre-peak.) And, if you examine the weasel words in their footnotes, you'll see the USGS and similar agencies effectively admit to fixing their supply predictions to equal the value for predicted demand. We're at the absolute brink of Peak Oil [lifeaftertheoilcrash.net]. It would also provide a plausible secondary motivation for the Iranian nuclear program, and explain why they are so adamant about pursuing the atom despite having one of the world's largest oil reserves: they also think that Peak Oil is at hand.

    If world oil consumption continues to increase at an average rate of 1.4 percent a year, and no further resources are discovered, the world's oil supply will not be exhausted until the year 2056.

    This, however, assumes that oil production can remain steady, and that those reseve estimates are accurate. The premise of the Hubbert peak [wikipedia.org] is that production rates will begin dropping at increasing rates, due to increasing difficulty in extraction.

    I don't have time to address the problems with each of your silver linings, but looking at a few Peak [peakoil.net] Oil [peakoil.org] sites and a quick search for "Energy Profit Ratio" [google.com] should leave many people skeptical about them.

    Which, in Realpolitik terms, might well justify the invasion of Iraq completely, aside from the stupidity how the invasion was executed (IE, without detailed post-invasion planning or comrehensive allied support). And, no, I am NOT a fan of Bush or the Iraq war... largely because of the aforementioned stupidity in execution.

  • Re:wow. (Score:5, Informative)

    by SmilingBoy ( 686281 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @09:12AM (#14731736)
    I am an economist and I agree with you - but a constant percentage increase is an exponential growth!
  • by cluckshot ( 658931 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @09:54AM (#14732051)

    Actually there is nothing left behind and the top collapses in. In Campache Mexico, the area is being supported by the largest Nitrogen Injection system on the planet. CO2 Sequestration is being used in some places. The situation is precarious to say the least. During well reserved "proving" blows at the Little Rock gas field in Alabama occurred the largest earthquake in Alabama History. Similarly last Saturday 2/11/2006 a 5.2 quake happened under Shell Oil's Brutus Rig. These are not natural events and they disclose the subsidence of rock due to the relief of pressure in Gas/Oil fields.

    The Kuwait oil fired so severely damaged their oil fields that billions of barrels of crude were trapped under ground in the fractured rock strata due to this problem of caverns etc. Sorry for those who think otherwise, but the stuff comes out and it leaves spaces behind to collapse.

    At Ache near the Shell gas works there can be seen on recent Google Earth photos (These may get taken down some time soon) at 4deg 44min 17.9 sec N and 95 deg 14 min 37.80 sec E one can see natural Gas Flares. This is massive stuff here. Such gas well proving blows can and do trigger earthquakes. This photo was taken shortly before the Ache Quake and Tsunami. Please look at the size of these flares. Some of these measure more than 8 nautical miles in cross dimension.

    Such events leave us with serious questions about what is going on in the Oil Business and how much damage it is doing to our world. Mods get a life if you want to argue with facts. I am presenting fact here not opinion.

  • by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:21AM (#14732292)
    American companies switched to liters in the early 80s to hide the fact that they were replacing 350ci engines with 200ci engines in most mainstream cars.

    Also, in America, anything that is European is automatically perceived to be more sophisticated (which is either good or bad, depending).
  • by mikerich ( 120257 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:46AM (#14732554)
    I may not be a lawyer, but I am a geologist.

    There are NOT caverns down there, there are pores. A good reservoir rock might be up to 30% pores - 70% is still solid material. As oil is extracted from the top of a reservoir, groundwater tends to rise up from below under pressure to take its place. This is called water drive and is the main way oil is recovered from reservoirs in the early days of production. Gas pressure is a smaller component of production, but careful maintenance of gas pressure is needed, over-quick reduction can allow too-much water into the reservoir where it finds its way into the wells and brings an early end to production.

    Subsidence is found in very few fields after prolonged extraction, most show no signs of the collapse you describe. The most famous subsidence is around Long Beach in California where there has been some 3m of subsidence - but no wholesale collapse because there isn't a hole to collapse into.

    Campeche is receiving nitrogen injection because unlike many fields, Campeche does not receive a huge natural inflow of water into the reservoir below the oil. Water drive is normally relied on to push oil upwards; instead by injecting nitrogren above the oil, it acts to increase the pressure pushing down and keeps oil coming to the surface.

    CO2 injection is a well-established technology in much of the US where it has been found that CO2 helps lower the viscosity of the crude. True carbon sequestration has been conducted by Statoil in the Sleipnir West gas field of the North Sea at a rate of approximately 1 million tonnes PA. The CO2 is recovered directly from the gas at the well-head as its concentration are above the legal limits imposed by European export limits.

    Yes oil and gas extraction have been linked to Earth tremors at very shallow depth and are linked to the release of pre-existing stresses. The cause and effect of these tremors are well known from experiments conducted at Rangely in Colorado, where it was found tremors could be turned off and on by varying the rate of extraction. Similar tremors are known from fields in California, Texas and the North Sea.

    The huge Sumatra 'quake was at great depth (30km) and distance from any hydrocarbon reserves. At 30km, even if oil source rocks existed, the oil would have been cracked into natural gas by a combination of pressure and heat. Furthermore, the physical characteristics of the 'quake are typical of those found in subduction zones, not the minor tremors found in oil fields.

    There is no cause and effect between oil and gas production in Sumatra and the seismicity of the region - beyond the fact that the same tectonic pressures that caused the 'quake produce ideal conditions for the formation and entrapment of hydrocarbons.

    The Kuwait fields may well have been damaged by a sudden release of pressure at the well-head when the Iraqis set off their explosives. This effect is well-known from oil-drilling history; many of the famous gushers of the early 20th Century that seemed to show vast resources were quickly followed by sudden collapses in production - the Spindletop field in Texas being the most famous example of what happens when pressures in fields are not controlled, it peaked in 1902 at over 17 million barrels p.a, but was down to less than 4 million in 1904.

  • by sgtrock ( 191182 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @10:56AM (#14732640)
    I checked out your coordinates for the Shell gas works on maps.google.com [google.com]. I don't see anything but empty ocean at that point. Are you sure you have the coordinates correct?
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:27AM (#14732968) Homepage

    Do you know why they are 20 times more expensive than normal bulbs? Because they take approximately 20 times more resources to make

    20 times? Doing a quick look at lightbulbwarehouse.com I see a incandescent for 48 cents. A pin based florescent is $2.98. That's about 6.2 times as expensive, not 20. Secondly, since when were all resources equal in terms of environmental costs? I don't know what extra resources it takes to make a fluorescent, but what if it took more labor? That's not something we're exactly running out of, or something that people are talking about conserving.

    You claim you won't save any money over the life of the bulb. Let's do that fairly simple calculation. On a 100 watt incandescent over 10,000 hours (which is the rated life of the fluorescent) you'll use 10,000*100/1000 kilowatt hours of electricity, or 1000 kilowatt hours. A Fluorescent uses about 1/4 of the energy to produce the same amount of light, so that's 10,000*25/1000 = 250 kilowatt hours. Around here electricy is pretty cheap at .07 cents/kilowatt hour, so that's 1000*.07=$70. The fluorescent will use 250*.07=$17.50 in energy. The difference is $52.50.

    The lifetime of the incandescent is 4000 hours (and I'm even giving you LONG LIFE incandescents), so you'll need to buy 2.5 bulbs, at a cost of $1.20. So the incandescent bulb saved you $2.98-1.20= $1.78 in bulb costs, but you paid an extra $52.50 in electric costs. That's an extra expense of $50.72 for the incandescent.

    Now you claim that the florescents only last about as long as the normal bulbs. Ok, let's do that calculation. That's not true for most people but it's true for you, so let's say the florescent only lasts about as long as normal incandescents, which is about 1000 hours. You'll have to buy 9 more of them to get that same 10,000 hours. That's an extra $26.82 in bulb costs. You're STILL saving $50.72-26.82=$23.90

  • by CronScript ( 936442 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:30AM (#14733009) Homepage Journal

    Site showing a graph of U.S. oil production since 1973: www.hubbertpeak.com/us/ [hubbertpeak.com]

    Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's congressional peak oil presentation [energybulletin.net] is also quite good.

  • Re:Food crisis (Score:3, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:52AM (#14733292) Homepage Journal
    Ammonia can be produced without oil [wikipedia.org] and farm equipment can be run on other technologies (such as hydrogen, batteries, or synthetic fuels) that are entirely grid powered. Our dependence on oil for farming is not fixed. It's based entirely on the fact that oil is cheap.
  • Re:Further articles (Score:2, Informative)

    by fixinah ( 809681 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @11:55AM (#14733331) Homepage
    Except that Canada is supplying 50% of your oil and they have vast reserves left.
  • by CharlieG ( 34950 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:19PM (#14733618) Homepage
    It's NOT necessarily SUV ownership - it depends on how they are used.

      I own a long bed, crew cab pickup. Get's UGLY MPG (which I will admit) - but I use a total of about 15-20 gallons a MONTH. Why? Because 90% of my commute is on Mass Transit, and of that 10%. half of that is with a passenger. I use the truck for certain uses, and we use my Wife's car (a Saturn) for most of the driving. I DID make 1/2 dozen trips this weekend - all with a snowblower, shovels, and other snow gear loading the back - with the exception of the Costco trip - which filled the bed

    Do I wish It got better mileage? Yep. But as it is, I need the truck for certain uses, and even from an energy point of view, it does NOT pay to get another vehicle, for the small percentage of the mileage I drive where I'm NOT using the truck as - gasp- a truck

    The birth of what I'll call the "Yuppie SUV" (there have been SUVs for a long time, but they were meant as trucks) can be blamed on 2 factors
    1)CAFE laws! The CAFE laws in effect banned the full sized station wagon, which used to play the exact role the average SUV plays today - a valid exemption meant for those WORK trucks (which is what SUVs were then - most had very crude interiors, and were used to haul construction crews around) was used as a way around the problem

    2)The second, was that the original Minivans were HORRID. Believe it or not, Americans did NOT go straight from the full sized wagon to the SUV (remember what I said about SUVs being trucks - they rode rough, etc) - they went to the Minivan - the original, and for a while, the most popular thing out there was the Chrysler Mini van - the problem was that the original Mini van was basically a "K car" with a mini van body - they died very quickly, and were NOT reliable. People looked around and said "I need a vehicle that can carry Buddy, Sis, my wife, the dog, and some friends to the soccer game, and I will NOT buy one of those piece of crap Minivans again" - the ONLY thing they could find was a TRUCK (they were NOT called SUVs then) - and people started buying them. The mfgs responded to the market - leather, better sound, lighter ride, etc.

    The funny part? With the exception of the Suburban/Yukon and the Expedition (and their corp "brothers"), you can't GET a real TRUCK SUV anymore (part of the definition - if you can't lay a 4x8 sheet flat in the back, it's NOT a work truck) - so the original users have gotten screwed too. This, of course, has lead to the rise of the full sized crew can pickup with a cap, which is basically what the first SUVs were - a pickup, with a station wagon body
  • What if tillable land became in demand for non-food crops to generate fuel?

    We've still got more than enough. Some analysts are put off by the idea of massive increases in farm land, but they tend to ignore the fact that the US farms less land than ever before to produce more crops than ever before. Going back to an increase in farmland would not be difficult, and South America is full of untapped potential through both technological improvements to their farming processes and large amounts of land that can be reassigned to farming duties.

    Technology-wise we could also reclaim desert and other hostile areas for farming. However, we're a long way away from even considering such an idea. (With population growth on the decline, we're actually farther than ever.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, 2006 @12:57PM (#14734033)
    Why would you want to keep the price of oil down?

    Economics 101

    If you raise the price too much, people will either cut back, or in the case of a product with inelastic demand like oil, pass the added costs into their products (which keep in mind, EVERYTHING is effected by the price of oil due to the supply chain), thus sparking inflation. Inflation means there's less purchasing power, and walla! You, the sheik with the oil, have no purchasing power, and are screwed.

    Inflation is a Very Bad Thing(tm).
  • by mckyj57 ( 116386 ) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @01:42PM (#14734515)
    Peak Oil has been a constant discussion for years. This guy has some very interesting

          Peak Oil Debunked [blogspot.com]
  • by Jonboy X ( 319895 ) <jonathan.oexner@ ... u minus language> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @02:31PM (#14735016) Journal
    The second, was that the original Minivans were HORRID.

    The Dodge (read "Chrysler") Caravan my parents bought in 1984 was great.

    the problem was that the original Mini van was basically a "K car" with a mini van body

    That's a good thing. Parents of big families want a vehicle that can carry 6 or so passengers, but is easy to drive like a smaller vehicle.

    they died very quickly, and were NOT reliable.

    My dad's Caravan ran almost 300k miles.

    Decent power, car-like handling, got (I think) mid 20's gas mileage. I think it ran a Mitsu V6. They were all the rage for the second half of the 80's, until they got too recognizable as the preferred transportation of soccer moms. They just weren't cool any more, so the parents of America moved on to heavier, poorer-handling, less-efficient SUV's, so that they could theoretically drive off-road...or something.

    Design and reliability problems didn't kill the minivan. American vanity did.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright