A White Christmas

With the Holiday Season upon us I am catching up a little on my reading, and have finally finished "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell.  This is a book that seems to have undergone one of those popularity swings which are, themselves the topic of the book.  Interestingly it was recommended to me by a General at a conference on something that superficially would seem to be totally unrelated.  But as the General noted, it was germain.

We used to call the bend in the demand curve for a new product, when it went from having very slow sales to suddenly catching on, the knee of the curve, but in the new terminology it is "The Tipping Point."  The book is very well written and worth taking the time to read. (And since it has been out since 2000 many of you may already have done so).

It is also a little topical because there will come a time when Peak Oil passes through such a point.  It is obviously, increasing numbers of articles, and rising prices non-withstanding, not there yet.    The potential increases in production from projects coming on stream next year may delay it a little longer, it may very well depend on the weather this winter.

And in that regard, snow having fallen here last night, so that we are going to have a White Christmas, may I wish you all the Compliments of this Season, and hope that you all are able to enjoy a Festive Holiday, with many opportunities for rest and relaxation.

The Tipping Point actually has more "holds" on it at my local library (24) than the newer Blink (21).  Merry Christmas!
BTW, have you read Clayton Christensen's or James Utterback's books on innovation/acceptance?  Is The Tipping Point in line with those or does it make some break from them?
One of the things I found very interesting in The Tipping Point was Gladwell's discussion of different personality types and the roles they play in spreading new ideas. Two types in particular stood out in my reading: the mavens and the connectors. Mavens are people who are very interested in a particular subject and know a lot about it, while the connectors are people who are very sociable and have a great many connections to other people. Both types are important to the spread of an idea.

I suspect that most of the people who frequent this site are mavens, but relatively few are connectors. Who are the connectors in the peak oil movement?

I suspect that many of the present connectors in this movement are people who have wandered in from other movements, such as environmentalism. What can we do to cultivate our own unique connectors?

Gladwell has an interesting excerpt on his web site that talks about connectors: Are you a connector?
Connectors are the ones who make a buck on spreading ideas - one way or another.

There ain't much money to be made spreading the idea of peak oil.  Hence it's a mavens only type of crowd.

If peak oil is real, one will be able to profit from oil investments, particularly in E&P's and oil service companies - and, while money might not solve all post-peak problems, it will probably help. I spread both ideas, but not many not already on board are listening. Well, maybe I'm not convincing.
not many ... are listening. Well, maybe I'm not convincing.

In this day and age of information overload, most people are unable to cope with all the stuff that is coming at them. Some MSM claim they are giving you "fair and balanced" news. They say, "we report, you decide". They pretend that everything is a democratic decision. They say, "our latest polls show that 37% of Americans disapprove of X, but approve of Y and Z; what do YOU oh mighty one feel? Call this number and reveal the truth onto us".

Well, if it were true, this incredible idea that my wishes and the wishes of the moral majority become reality, heck yeah, we choose the "fair and balanced" belief that Peak Oil is a doom & gloom ruse on par with aliens invading our planet, and we choose the optimistic, glass-is-always-half-full position that our "economy" will remain robust and "grow" forever. That's what we choose.

Have a merry last Christmas.
We may not see another one next year.

You're missing my point here.  I'm saying the connectors themselves aren't able to make much money with an idea based on scarcity, like peak oil.  They normally act as dealmakers with venture capital firms, or power brokers in political situations.

I may be missing something here but I don't see all the fabulous opportunities for a quick buck here.  Solar, wind and geothermal have all been around for years.  This situation is NOT comparable to the dot com mania.  That one had connectors coming out of the woodwork.

In my opinion, connectors are not selfless creatures intent on the public good but, rather, dealmakers who "connect" and profit thereby.  Those deals can be for money or political power but the essential thing is that there has to be an opportunity for arbitrage - there has to be something in it for the connector.

I don't see much arbitrage opportunity in spreading the gospel of peak oil.

I think writers like Kuntzler are profiting from the idea of peak oil. I've heard that if you can comfortably talk to a group of people there are those who will pay you to talk about anything you like. Business groups are always looking for someone to speak at their meetings, conferences, dinners, etc. Talk for 20 minutes, answer some questions, and pick up a check on the way out. Business people must be connectors and salesmen just in order to stay in business.
Now that I hear "connectors" and "mavens" I remember that I've heard some of these ideas before.  Gladwell is a frequent visitor at ITConversations.  Great audio/podcasts:


(search for glaswell, he said, acting as a maven)

On my list HO! Right now I'm reading "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk, a great Turkish novelist. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand a unique place in the Islamic world, where east meets west, secular nationalists meets radical islamists and it's got a love story too...

I'm glad the trains are rolling in NYC so I can get my gifts to Staten Island today. I'll try to keep TOD:NYC updated if I hear of a labor settlement.

For my long distance relatives, I used Just Give and let them select their own charity....and I get a nice tax deduction!

Oh, and everyone on my list is getting a CFL bulb and some information about how much energy/pollution they save.
I'm not sure why you're saying it is obvious peak isn't here yet.
I'm not saying it is - don't necessarily think it is - but I don't think it's obvious. The delays in new projects are significant, and Stuart's analysis of FIP decline suggested that if the decline is close to 5% or more, the new projects would not equal the ongoing decline. We still don't know how rapidly Cantarell or Burgan will decline, to say nothing of Ghawar, which is at best on a plateau (I say this not only because of Simmons' analysis but because Saudi stopped announcing increased production from Ghawar 2-3 years ago, tacitly acknowledging at best flat production). EIA through September still has April/May as high points, not solely due to the hurricanes. I will wait till numbers are published exceeding those of last spring before I will feel sure.
We are clearly at least five years away from Peak.  The IEA has in the past published supply and demand  outlooks six quarters ahead into the future.  These are the basis of quota (and price) decisions by nations, firms and OPEC.  Now they project out 'til 2010.

And their data gathering on contracts and production coming on stream indicates that extraction will increase a minimum of 1.25-mbd annually from 2006-2009 culminating with a global production rate of 91-mbd in 2010.  Growth areas are the ME, Brazil, Canada, Angola & the Caspian region.  All this talk of Peaking in 2005 is plainly silly stuff.

Of our 11 scenario modelers, only Campbell shows a near peak (85-mbd in 2010), yet global production already exceeds 84-mbd in 2005.  He will shortly be revising upwards once again.  If we are near peak, who are the modelers that are forecasting this?  Where is their data?  And why aren't the other modelers that are Peak-friendly revising downwards?

Crying wolf just discredits the discussion.  Hurricane damage to infrastructure and distribution caused a short term loss of almost 1-mbd.  We have already exceeded the pre-hurricane extraction rates.  To presume that the summer slump was indicative of peaking is pure folly and i would expect better from TOD posters that have followed trends of the last three years.

The road from 1950 has been a bumpy one.  But 2005 was not a pothole.  And there are none in the foreseeable future.  If refining capacity is not increased, there is questionable purpose in increasing production.  That would hold us to a plateau ... not negative growth.  But even as we speak, Alberta is contemplating a major refinery.  

While I'm not saying we have peaked, I will wait for IEA to revise November to see what the real numbers are. Surely you saw Stuart's discussion of revisions made. I think it doesn't serve to poblish preliminary, inaccurate numbers either. As far as i can tell, IEA in chronically wrong in its predictions of production, as has been abundantly shown. We disagree mostly in how much faith to put into their estimates. They have been profoundly wrong in regions very well known, and I don't think they'll do better with poorly defined regions.
I never intended to carry the torch that "peak is now." I figure we'll find out when the time comes anyway. I have just been impressed by the anaysis by those here and elswhere that seriously examines decline rates and their effects. It was an inadequate consideration of decline that led experts to miss the peaks in the US, North Sea and elsewhere, but they don't seem to learn from this to revise their world models. It was the study of declines vs additions that lead Simmons to his correct (within 1-2 years) predictions of North Sea peak and US natl gas peak, when other experts ridiculed this idea. I'm just concerned that this may repeat itself with world production at some point. You previously said you don't concern yourself with depletion/decline rates - but this is where the essential problem lies, and where modeling has been falling short.

I read Rembrandt's report, and have great respect for his study. He also uses very conservative decline estimates, starting at 3%, while other estimates range from 5 - 8%. This difference alone is enough to dramatically move the peak, and no one can say for sure what the number is. That is why I take all predictions with a grain of salt. I'll think I'll drop  this line of argument now, though. I'll just keep watching the numbers.

Well said.  At this point, there is only moderate levels of disagreement on how many new projects are coming on stream in the various bottom-up projections.  It's all about decline rates.  They are murky, but I think peak=Real Soon Now because FIP decline rates are >6% is at least as credible as peak>2010 because decline rates are <5%.  More work is needed to clarify the situation further.
Of course Alberta is considering a new refinery.  The old ones aren't well-suited to processing bitumen.
We are clearly at least five years away from Peak.

My first reaction to your comment was "Oh really... ?"  Freddy. But you make a fair justification for it so I feel I should do likewise.

It mostly depends on four things:

  • will decline rates be as predicted
  • will planned projects come onstream as planned
  • will significant demand destruction occur (major economic slowdown)
  • will geopolitics disrupt supply

Any of these could radically change the date of peak oil. It IS perfectly feasible that peak oil has happened in 2005 - if half Saudi production was taken out tomorrow for 10 years it would be almost certain. Odds are that PO will happen in the next 10 years regardless, and if decline rates are higher than predicted 2010 may be optimistic.

One should not rely on always seeing potholes before hitting them ;)

A very Humorous article by Dmitry Podborits "On The Prospects Of Using AAA Type Batteries As Peak Oil Mitigation Devices, and Other Observations." responding to various nay sayers to Peak Oil. The response to an article in Forbes by Peter Huber - "Thermodynamics and Money" was particularly incisive.
Just checking my Xmas emails on an unusually cold day in Australia.  Via a link to the Washington Post I saw this web ad for BP's 'hydrogen station' in Scotland
I'm wondering if it's a loss making public relations exercise and not a working prototype meant to be replicated elsewhere. Toyota run a TV ad where a kid dreams of a fuel cell car. Big Biz is telling us everything is gonna-be-OK. Since I'm not the Grinch just for today I'll believe it.
In terms of a major technical impact it is likely to be relatively insignificant.  There are some considerable concerns over the availability of natural gas over the intermediate term to meet existing needs, let alone to provide a source for hydrogen.  And in regard to carbon dioxide use in enhanced oil recovery, this is very viable but, when talking about extending field life by 20 years, one has to ask, at what rate?
Is there anybody here that has analyzed, or who can comment on what percentage of "effort," for lack of a better term, the major service companies put into gas vs. their respective oil efforts?

For instance, how much of Halliburton's (or Schlumberger's) annual budget goes into activity that ends up resulting in oil being pulled out of the ground, versus gas. Can we compare this somehow to years previous? Are there any visible trends?

It is long-term trends we are interested in. If money has been invested to pull more gas out of the ground, it will presumeably come eventually, even if we have to deal with short to intermediate-term shortages. If there isn't in fact any increased activity in regards to gas, then there will definitely be shortages and increased prices.

Predicting any outcomes are dependent on knowing these actual trends in activity.

I, of course, am loooking into these matters, but was wondering if anybody could give me a jumpstart.

I haven't done the analysis, but my subjective impression from a lot of trawling through press releases is that the majors, to varying degrees, are shifting to gas.  Shell is the most extreme - Shell is well on the way to being a gas company rather than an oil company.  I believe this is because it's a lot easier to find gas around the world than oil (the global gas peak is still some way away, though there are regional problems (as in the US and UK)).