What happened to peak oil?

November 17th, 2013 at 9:26 am by David Farrar

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic asks why are gas prices falling?

The price Americans pay for fuel at the pump has fallen to its lowest in more than then two years. At $3.19 per gallon, you can fill up a 12-gallon tank for less than $40. 

So, what’s going on? And will prices keep going down?

None of the long or short-term factors affecting the price of gasoline seem likely to move quickly. Certainly none that would push the price down rapidly. The safest bet is that gas prices will remain in their new range, somewhere above $3 a gallon but under $4. 

The Energy Information Administration predicts an even tighter range over the next year. “The projected U.S. annual average regular gasoline retail price falls from $3.63 per gallon in 2012 to an average of $3.50 per gallon in 2013 and $3.39 per gallon in 2014,” the EIA forecasts.

But wasn’t meant to send gas prices ever-rising?

During the big run up in oil and gas prices that you can see in the charts above, some analysts contended that we were up against a geophysical limit on how much oil could be produced. It wasn’t that we were running out of oil, but that we wouldn’t be able to produce more, even if demand went up.

So far, however, that has not proven to be the case, as this International Energy Agency chart shows. 

oil

A funny sort of peak – that keeps growing.

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76 Responses to “What happened to peak oil?”

  1. duggledog (1,576 comments) says:

    Peak oil was a myth propagated by backward thinking scare mongerers who want us all to go back to subsistence living. There’s tons of it left.

    But it’s too bloody expensive in this country! The high price is part of the massive tax burden

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  2. vibenna (305 comments) says:

    I’m still waiting for peak stupidity – but unfortunately production continues to increase !

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  3. metcalph (1,433 comments) says:

    I remember arguing with someone on this forum who claimed that Peak Oil was real because the US government had put out a report affirming it. Looking it up, I found that the report was a literature survey from some Peak Oil proponent and that the Department of Energy asked for a report from him not because they believed in him but because they found it useful to have the theory in a mongraph.

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  4. David Garrett (7,518 comments) says:

    There WILL be peak oil….logically there must be, since it is a finite resource. Buit with new production techniques it wont occur any time soon.

    The real problem is that we burn a product that is so valuable for our 21st century lifestyle as a fuel. The stuff is simply too valuable to do that with.

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  5. TheContrarian (1,091 comments) says:

    Of course Peak Oil is a reality – that it hasn’t happened yet is neither here nor there as it must happen at some point due to oil being a finite resource.

    [DPF: I’m not sure it is a particularly finite resource. Our ability to extract it may be finite, but in terms of how much oil there is under the surface of the planet, it is beyond huge. We don’t know how much is 100 miles down etc.

    Only a small proportion of it is currently technically and economically viable to extract. But both these variables can change over time.]

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  6. PTM (47 comments) says:

    Just like the sun is also a finite resource. Not sure when peak sun will be reached, may take a little time but it will happen. Hope I’m not around to see it.

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  7. flipper (4,194 comments) says:

    Throughout history, it has been recorded that, whatever the resource or item, the world supply would end, with unimaginable consequences. There was bronze, there were oak trees, coal, just about everything.

    Throughout history, man has adapted, and through ingenuity, developed new processes and means to march to bigger and better things.

    By definition oil is limited. But……. as Outside The Beltway noted a few months ago:

    ** “Following the (1973) Yom Kippur war, the CIA and other intelligence organisations compiled and circulated formal reports on future world oil production and price. The CIA report in particular, to which one of our contributors had officially sanctioned access, played a large role in the New Zealand Muldoon/Birch “Think Big” programme. But the CIA and the NZ (and other) Government(s) were in good company.

    We note the following (E & OE), which is based on mostly US sources (because the US has been the main driver in World oil exploration and development:
    1882 — Institute of Mining Engineers estimates 95 million barrels of oil remain.
    1926 — Federal Oil Conservation Board estimates 4.5 billion barrels remain.
    1932 — Federal Oil Conservation Board estimates 10 billion barrels of oil remain.
    1944 — Petroleum Administrator for War estimates 20 billion barrels of oil remain.
    1950 — American Petroleum Institute says world oil reserves are at 100 billion barrels.
    1980 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 648 billion barrels
    1993 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 999 billion barrels
    2000 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 1016 billion barrels.
    2003 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 1212 billion barrels. (Source: Offshore Support Journal – OSJ)
    2007 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 1313 billion barrels. (OSJ)
    2011 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 1469 billion barrels. (OSJ)
    2013 — Remaining proven oil reserves put at 1637 billion barrels. (OSJ)
    There is a trend here, is there not?
    Widespread use of fracking, and access to tar sands, will continue to increase oil reserves, while newly discovered, vast quantities of shale gas will inevitably shape our energy future. Solar, wind, tidal and other means of energy production – all high capital cost/high maintenance/short life/ un-storable (at present) means of electricity generation for domestic, industrial, and transportation purposes – will play a role, but not, in the foreseeable future, to the extent that politicians, and silly NGOs, with rose tinted spectacles, predict.
    The red melon Greens will be ever so pleased! ***

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  8. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    Hey Clint, what happened to that paper you wrote when you were masquerading as an independent civil servant in the parliamentary library?

    Imagine the economic chaos if we had accepted Green dogma as fact…I’m sure they think if they keep saying it long enough it’s bound to come true

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  9. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    @the Contrarian

    Not at all. It is demand that is peaking in the developed world as alternatives and efficiency impact. We might never reach a peak, or at least the peak could be driven by reducing demand rather than availability.

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  10. wiseowl (925 comments) says:

    I’m all for fracking.

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  11. TheContrarian (1,091 comments) says:

    Insider, whether the peak hits in demand or by scarcity oil, as a finite resource, has a peak. The question is more which peak hits first – peak demand or peak availability.

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  12. Manolo (14,024 comments) says:

    It was peak manure last century. It’s now the tired mantra of peak oil.
    Any argument that can be use against progress will be exploited by the Luddites and fellow travelers.

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  13. davidp (3,587 comments) says:

    DavidG>The real problem is that we burn a product that is so valuable for our 21st century lifestyle as a fuel. The stuff is simply too valuable to do that with.

    You have that the wrong way around. At some stage someone will invent a fuel source which is better than oil. At that point, oil left in the ground will be essentially worthless. If you have it, you need to extract it while it is still worth something.

    Compare with motor vehicles that replaced horse-drawn carriages. Motor vehicles were orders of magnitude better in terms of speed, reliability, operational cost, and environmental impact. The replacement didn’t happen because of peak oat production. If you owned a multi-national oat-growing corporation in the 1800s then your investment would be worth almost nothing now. You needed to sell oats as quickly as you could while people still had horses, not hold on to them in the expectation of peak oat.

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  14. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    davidp – I think DG is referring to the other uses of oil, such as making plastics etc.
    On that, if burning oil is the most valuable use for it at the moment, then keep burning it until a new fuel that is cheaper comes about.

    If it is so valuable for making plastics then the price will increase as demand for plastic making increases or supply decreases. That will allow alternative fuels to become more viable.

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  15. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    How do the young earthers of the cccp account for the existence oil anyway?

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  16. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Don’t you know? God put it there for the benefit of mankind.

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  17. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    The other questioni ask myself is, why does petrol cost NZ 98c a ltr in the US, compared to NZ $2.12 here?

    Why do we endure such savage levels of taxation?

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  18. Manolo (14,024 comments) says:

    The real problem is that we burn a product that is so valuable for our 21st century lifestyle as a fuel. The stuff is simply too valuable to do that with.

    Humans have demonstrated enough inventiveness over the last 100 years to confidently expect a new source of fuel to replace oil. Science will come up with the goods.

    D.G., I’ll ask toad to send you a Green Party membership form. :D

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  19. Pete George (23,677 comments) says:

    Throughout history, it has been recorded that, whatever the resource or item, the world supply would end, with unimaginable consequences. There was bronze, there were oak trees, coal, just about everything.

    Throughout history, man has adapted, and through ingenuity, developed new processes and means to march to bigger and better things.

    There has not always been a march to bigger and better things.

    On small scales there have been failures – for example Easter Island. On a larger scale there have been failures – civilisations have peaked and then declined, for example Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Mayan, Incan.

    Now we have a world-wide civilisation. It’s certain that at some stage we will run out of something essential and decline, and it’s quite likely that will before the inevitable depletion of our solar resource.

    We can assure ourselves nothing drastic will happen in our lifetimes, and the odds are with us there, but small crunches will happen and larger crunches and also eventually catastrophe are certain.

    There is always the risk of a devastating disease that we can’t save ourselves from.

    That’s if we don’t wipe ourselves out first. We weren’t far off that just fifty to twenty years ago, and risks from that knife edge era remain.

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  20. Harriet (5,099 comments) says:

    Sales increase by a quarter over 40yrs and it is a peak?

    From 1973 to 2012 – 39yrs – oil volume only increased by 26% on your graph. It was about 2950 in 1973 and is now 4000.

    The whole peak oil thing is bullshit……well for the next 500yrs anyway…but by that time….the market economy……oh never mind……

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  21. Ross12 (1,453 comments) says:

    DG
    I’d be interested in your views on the abiotic oil idea. Personally I don’t have any fixed ideas.

    http://viewzone.com/abioticoilx.html

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  22. Viking2 (11,547 comments) says:

    Report the other day saying that America produced a record amount of gasoline. Still imports diesel and bunker fuel.
    It has also produced record amounts of natural gas.
    All this is firing up the American economy.

    It is also pushing down oil prices.
    Sooner the better as it will fuck the Arabs. Then we will have the French economy collapsing taking with then a bunch of Europeans.

    Set all this out months ago.

    It will possibly impact NZ because we still import a lot but we also export a lot of oil. We just need more to export to balance the equation more.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11157364

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  23. Viking2 (11,547 comments) says:

    US oil production tops imports

    By Josh Lederman
    5:30 AM Friday Nov 15, 2013

    FOR the first month in nearly 20 years, the US last month extracted more oil from the ground than it imported, marking an important milestone for a nation seeking to wean itself off foreign oil.

    A promising sign for a still-sluggish economy, the shift could foreshadow opportunities to boost jobs in the US, lower the trade deficit and insulate the economy from foreign crises that can push oil prices up.

    But it also speaks to underlying changes in the way Americans use oil, as price-conscious consumers seek to limit what they pay at the pump.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11157364

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  24. cha (4,076 comments) says:

    Ninety percent of all consumption since 1937, fifty percent since 1985, sweet.
    /

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BYQGFCJCYAAitjs.png:large

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  25. Simon (757 comments) says:

    Peak oil is the crack pot theory that underpins Auckland’s $3 billion CBD rail loop plans which National has agreed to underwrite.

    What has happened to peak oil ask John Key

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  26. TheContrarian (1,091 comments) says:

    “DPF: I’m not sure it is a particularly finite resource. Our ability to extract it may be finite, but in terms of how much oil there is under the surface of the planet, it is beyond huge. We don’t know how much is 100 miles down etc.

    Only a small proportion of it is currently technically and economically viable to extract. But both these variables can change over time.”

    You can’t have a “particularly finite resource”. Something is either finite or infinite. Oil is finite therefor peak oil can be reached. What will change is how much effort we’ll go to to get the oil and at some stage the effort will be greater than the reward. The earlier we plan for that the better

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  27. wiseowl (925 comments) says:

    Has Len gone to China?

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  28. coge (190 comments) says:

    Things are looking up in the US, the prospect of self sufficiency in fuel is becoming a reality.

    http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/10/energy-fact-of-the-day-within-months-the-us-will-have-three-oil-fields-producing-more-than-1-million-barrels-per-day/

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  29. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    I worked at Shell’s Exploration and Production Lab in the Hague for a couple of years in the 80s and they always estimated that there were some several thousand years worth of petrochemicals on this little planet of ours even allowing for compound growth in usage thereof. It has always been an issue of the economics (and environmental aspects) of extraction and processing.

    Shale Oil was always seen as the next likely major additional source even 20 years ago.

    Fracking is also major as the efficiency i.e. amounts of, extraction has been poor (once again down to economics). Once again the expectation was that efficiencies would continue to improve and relatively small improvements would result in significant yield gains.

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  30. cha (4,076 comments) says:

    Indeed slijmbal – EROEI.

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  31. thedavincimode (6,867 comments) says:

    cha

    Interesting choice of Sunday reading material. But no doubt infinitely better than the traditional Sunday offerings.

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  32. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    Bollocks there has to be peak oil.

    Firstly, it is a renewable resource. The Earth did not come with oil, it produces it. Therefore if the use of oil is lower than the production of oil then peak oil will never be reached.

    Also, we currently can synthesise oil from various sources such as sugars and algae I think. So we can increase the amount of oil the Earth produces.

    In the long run, the amount of oil available to us is infinite.

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  33. wikiriwhis business (4,114 comments) says:

    “The Earth did not come with oil, it produces it.”

    If the Earth produces oil the Earth came with it.

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  34. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    wikiriwhis business (2,044) Says:
    November 17th, 2013 at 2:11 pm
    “The Earth did not come with oil, it produces it.”

    If the Earth produces oil the Earth came with it.

    Ok the earth came with atoms…

    You do know the process by which those atoms are turned into oil right?

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  35. wikiriwhis business (4,114 comments) says:

    “You do know the process by which those atoms are turned into oil right?”

    I have a feeling this would turn into a creationist/evolution argument which seems heavily weighted to creationism

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  36. Harriet (5,099 comments) says:

    Man didn’t move on from the stoneage due to lack of stone – and man won’t move on from the petrochemical age due to the lack of oil. Scientists study more than just geological energy.

    And besides that, if we do have peak oil then the cost of other forms of energy will then be naturally cheaper than oil, and a shift towards these will then see in another round of scientific improvments and probaly advancements.

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  37. TheContrarian (1,091 comments) says:

    “Firstly, it is a renewable resource. The Earth did not come with oil, it produces it. Therefore if the use of oil is lower than the production of oil then peak oil will never be reached.”

    Wow, the stupid is strong in this one. Oil is formed over thousands of years. For all intents and purposes it is limited and finite.

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  38. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    DPF: … We don’t know how much is 100 miles down etc.

    I do. None. Oil cannot exist at the temperatures it would be exposed to in the mantle. The rocks in the mantle aren’t really suitable for a reservoir either, mainly because they are semi-molten.

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  39. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    Sonny, do you want to explain how the earth produces oil?

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  40. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    DPF: I’m not sure it is a particularly finite resource.

    Of course it is a finite resource. We don’t know how finite, but there is an amount of oil stored in reservoirs on this planet.
    That isn’t to say that we won’t synthesise oil or the products we currently make from it one day. And if we do, that resource will be limited by the energy available to do it, which presumably will be the lifespan of the sun. Oil is only stored solar power anyway, so there is a good chance it’ll happen.

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  41. wikiriwhis business (4,114 comments) says:

    ‘Wow, the stupid is strong in this one. ‘

    Thought so

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  42. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Sonny, do you want to explain how the earth produces oil?

    Short version: Plants and algae die and are deposited in a sedimentary basin. They are mixed up with other sediments, and if there is enough organic matter then you might get a decent source rock such as a carbonaceous shale or coal. As the sediments are buried they undergo changes in pressure and temperature, and if the right microbes and conditions are present a “kerogen” or highly organic liquid is produced. In a conventional deposit, the kerogen migrates and may be trapped by a geological feature or impermeable cap rock. If it is trapped, and the rock it migrated to is a suitable reservoir (such as a permeable sandstone) then you have a conventional oil deposit. The oil may undergo more changes as the temperature and pressure change.

    I am aware you didn’t direct the question to me.

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  43. cha (4,076 comments) says:

    Sonny, do you want to explain how the earth produces oil?

    Who knew.
    /

    So a new book about oil, “The Great Oil Conspiracy: How the U.S. Government Hid the Nazi Discovery of Abiotic Oil from the American People” by New York Times bestselling author Jerome Corsi, asks how did the dinosaurs that died and became part of those “fossil fuels” get to be tens of thousands of feet under the surface?

    That’s just one of the many questions addressed in the book that takes many traditional beliefs about oil – it’s finite, it’s made through the process of various life forms dying and decaying, and others – and explains that they are just wrong.

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/04/how-did-dinosaurs-get-miles-under-the-earth/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenic_petroleum_origin

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  44. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    Companies such as LS9 that make oil out of E coli, algae, or sugarcane are struggling because of lack of demand at their prices.

    Given we already have various ways to synthesize oil, it is possible that we could produce as much or more than we use. Hence oil is infinite.

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  45. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I very much doubt that there are many dinosaurs in our oil deposits.

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  46. wikiriwhis business (4,114 comments) says:

    ‘Given we already have various ways to synthesize oil, it is possible that we could produce as much or more than we use. Hence oil is infinite.’

    The point is will those in power allow this. Not looking good so far

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  47. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Given we already have various ways to synthesize oil, it is possible that we could produce as much or more than we use. Hence oil is infinite.

    That depends whether or not you are using a finite resource to synthesise the oil. By your logic home brew beer is also an infinite resource.

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  48. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    Abiogenic oil theory is the preserve of fruit loops.

    If we’re not going go be rational there’s no point.

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  49. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    gazzmaniac (2,086) Says:
    November 17th, 2013 at 2:44 pm
    Given we already have various ways to synthesize oil, it is possible that we could produce as much or more than we use. Hence oil is infinite.

    That depends whether or not you are using a finite resource to synthesise the oil. By your logic home brew beer is also an infinite resource.

    Correct. Home brew beer is infiinite.

    As I said, algae, e coli, and sugars are also infinite.

    Even if you wanted to include the life span of our sun, you can get around that by using other suns.

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  50. srylands (414 comments) says:

    “Firstly, it is a renewable resource. The Earth did not come with oil, it produces it. Therefore if the use of oil is lower than the production of oil then peak oil will never be reached.”

    umm you do realise that the conditions for oil production are rare, and it takes hundreds of thousands of years? So I think I can call bulshit on oil “is a renewable resource”. For our purposes, it is most definitely a finite resource. If we have another carboniferous age, and a new intelligent species replaces us 50 million years from now, then sure they may have a new source of oil.

    Back to the main topic, yes peak oil has been delayed by new recovery techniques but oil will peak. As for new energy sources, I remain pessimistic that we will get a new energy source that will provide energy on the scale of our current use. Oil is a uniquely versatile energy source and there is nothing on the horizon to replace it. We are not going to be driving large fleets of electric cars and trucks (let alone airplanes) any time soon.

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  51. wikiriwhis business (4,114 comments) says:

    ‘So a new book about oil, “The Great Oil Conspiracy: ‘

    Thanks for this background Cha. Amazing.

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  52. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    Alan (677) Says:
    November 17th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
    Abiogenic oil theory is the preserve of fruit loops.

    If we’re not going go be rational there’s no point.

    I don’t think cha was being serious Alan.

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  53. cha (4,076 comments) says:

    I’m sorry Alan but until there’s a sarc font available we’re stuck with the forward slash.

    btw, anything even remotely connected with the name Jerome Corsi is to be treated with the disdain it deserves.

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  54. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    srylands (61) Says:
    November 17th, 2013 at 2:51 pm
    “Firstly, it is a renewable resource. The Earth did not come with oil, it produces it. Therefore if the use of oil is lower than the production of oil then peak oil will never be reached.”

    umm you do realise that the conditions for oil production are rare, and it takes hundreds of thousands of years? So I think I can call bulshit on oil “is a renewable resource”.

    So like everybody else here, you are agreeing that Earth produces oil (so long as life exists on Earth).

    I never gave a rate and it is irrelevant.

    I was just making a point for those dullards who say, “oil is finite, once you’ve used it its gone”

    It is very possible that our use could go below the background rate of production of the Earth (effectively zero), but we probably won’t because we don’t need to.

    If we needed to, companies like LS9 and Solyndra would be booming. When the time comes, those type of companies will take off. It is obviously not yet that time, and the question of ‘peak oil’ is boring for anyone with a modicum of intelligence.

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  55. southtop (265 comments) says:

    Hmmmm now I wonder – do we really know about what is below our feet?
    http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf124/sf124p10.htm

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  56. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I remain pessimistic that we will get a new energy source that will provide energy on the scale of our current use

    I do.
    There are plenty of possibilities. Maybe wave power, maybe cleaner nuclear fission, maybe fusion, maybe advanced solar cells, maybe synthesised oil, or maybe something I don’t know about.

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  57. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Correct. Home brew beer is infiinite.

    Ignoring the fact that home brew is a product and not a resource, it is not infinite. It is constrained by the ability to purchase, grow, or otherwise procure the ingredients for your home brew. If you ignore economic constraints, there is still a finite amount of fresh water for your home brew, and a finite amount of land available to grow hops and barley.

    Even if we can synthesise oil, it will not be infinite because we will still need other things to create it. However it might be able to be grown sustainably (in the not eating into capital sense)

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  58. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    southtop – you conveniently failed to mention that Eugene Island is now in decline, and can be explained by the field being replenished from other reservoirs.

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  59. cha (4,076 comments) says:

    A dead end – who knows.

    http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/201101/hargraves.cfm

    http://home.comcast.net/~robert.hargraves/public_html/2010-07Hargraves2-1.pdf

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  60. thedavincimode (6,867 comments) says:

    :roll:

    No, I wasn’t referring to the Bible. Sheesh, some people sure are touchy! :lol:

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  61. wikiriwhis business (4,114 comments) says:

    ‘No, I wasn’t referring to the Bible. Sheesh, some people sure are touchy!’

    In an age where porn is more aceptable then the Bible this is what is now happening

    Outrage at A&P Show’s pro-life foetus dolls

    Parents have voiced concern after pro-life campaigners exhibiting at the Canterbury A & P Show gave children rubber foetus dolls.

    Voice for Life and ProLife groups teamed up to run a stall at the region’s annual agricultural and pastoral show.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/9409739/Outrage-at-A-P-Shows-pro-life-foetus-dolls

    This remembering primary aged children are being taught sex education and older children are allowed abortions without parental knowledge.

    But education on abortion is deemed unfit pffff

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  62. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    What the fuck does that have to do with peak oil?

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  63. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    gazzmaniac (2,089) Says:
    November 17th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
    Correct. Home brew beer is infiinite.

    Ignoring the fact that home brew is a product and not a resource, it is not infinite. It is constrained by the ability to purchase, grow, or otherwise procure the ingredients for your home brew. If you ignore economic constraints, there is still a finite amount of fresh water for your home brew, and a finite amount of land available to grow hops and barley.

    Even if we can synthesise oil, it will not be infinite because we will still need other things to create it. However it might be able to be grown sustainably (in the not eating into capital sense)

    I will summarise your post:

    ‘Over time, we could create and use an infinite amount of home brew, synthetic oil, or anything else which is part of an organic cycle’

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  64. wikiriwhis business (4,114 comments) says:

    ‘What the fuck does that have to do with peak oil?’

    Ya, sawry bout that. forgot the thread when I saw the story.

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  65. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I will summarise your post:

    ‘Over time, we could create and use an infinite amount of home brew, synthetic oil, or anything else which is part of an organic cycle’

    To make that statement correct you need to change it to “given an infinite amount of time and resources, we could create and use an infinite amount of home brew, synthetic oil, or anything else which is part of an organic cycle”.

    Which is a pretty pointless statement. And still incorrect because you are assuming the sun will always be there, but we know it won’t.

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  66. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    given an infinite amount of time and resources

    A pretty pointless statement.

    And as I said earlier, if you want to include the lifespan of the Sun as a limit, there are other suns.

    But the overall point is, biological processes are generally cyclical, therefore renewable, and therefore infinite. All the inputs for synthetic oil and homebrew beer are organic (except for solar energy), you grow them, then they die, then eventually they become inputs at the other end of the process.

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  67. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    We’re arguing about semantics here, but having incorrectly paraphrased what I wrote, I corrected you.
    You are correct, it is a pretty pointless statement, which is correct. Your paraphrasing is not correct, since something you create at a finite rate cannot be infinite if you do not have infinite time to create it.

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  68. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I suppose it’s true that there’s a finite amount of oil – but by the same token there is a finite amount of music. At some points the various available combinations of notes will be exhausted and there will be no new songs.

    Pointing out that fossil fuels are a finite resource is about as sensible a statement. Technically true, but basically meaningless.

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  69. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Fossil fuels are finite. There is an amount of them on the planet right now. They are not infinte.

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  70. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    gazzmaniac (2,093) Says:
    November 17th, 2013 at 4:28 pm
    Fossil fuels are finite. There is an amount of them on the planet right now. They are not infinte.

    Time is not frozen.

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  71. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    If humans stopped using fossil fuels altogether, the amount in the Earth would increase.

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  72. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    You are right, time is not frozen and that amount changes with time.
    At the moment that amount is reducing.

    Even if we were using them at a slower rate to their creation, they would still not be infinite since Earth is 4.6 billion and not infinte years old.

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  73. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Yes – but that statement is basically meaningless outside the context of 1) how much of the stuff will we need, and 2) how much of the stuff can we conceivably extract?

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  74. Scott1 (572 comments) says:

    1) at certain time in history fossil fuels were created at faster rates than others – I suspect the current period in time is one where fossil fuels are being created at a particularly slow rate.

    2) we have lots of coal maybe (1000 years worth) we can liquidate that if required (or use the algae etc) – it would just be expensive and so oil costs would go up (but would probably plateau at some price).

    New oil discoveries at some point start to become pretty similar to the idea of liquidating coal because you have to spend a lot of energy resources getting the oil (therefore costs go up), for example where it is mixed with a lot of other things. Some of these situations are simply just low energy states, so you have to add energy to get them to oil regardless of technology.

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  75. wreck1080 (3,956 comments) says:

    I’m not worried, ‘lil nuke will power cars of the future.

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  76. monk (1 comment) says:

    An explanation is given here:

    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Gas-Prices/The-Reason-for-the-Fall-in-Gas-Prices.html

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