Deffeyes on Book TV (CSpan2) Tonight

On the weekend, C-SPAN2 becomes Book TV.  At midnight EDT (Sunday/Monday Aug. 21/22), Kenneth Deffeyes will be on Book TV giving a talk titled "Beyond Oil: The view from Hubbert's Peak."

The Book TV schedule can be found here:

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak Kenneth Deffeyes

Description: Geologist, author, and Princeton University professor Kenneth Deffeyes writes that world oil production is no longer increasing in his new book, "Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak." The title of the book comes from petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert, who formulated that the world's oil production would reach its peak in 2000 and begin to decline rapidly until the global fossil fuel supplies went dry. Mr. Deffeyes believes that the world's oil production would peak at the close of 2005 and that the eventual absence of fossil fuels would have a devastating and potentially catastrophic effect on world economies. The book also lists the potential replacement fossil fuel energy sources and the ways in which they can be utilized effectively.

Author Bio: Kenneth Deffeyes is a geologist and professor emeritus at Princeton University. He is also the author of "Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage."

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"Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak." Best discusion of the subject that I ever read.
I ordered that book two days ago.
To be clear, it was actually his first book that I read, Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage. I haven't got a look at the newest one. I can't imagine that there's much difference except for some updated data.
Sorry, this is off-topic, but I'm in the process of educating myself.

One thing that I always hear goes like this "current oil prices are way lower than 79's prices if you adjust them by inflation".

So, please, could someone tell me where I can find the oil prices adjusted by inflation of, say, the last 30 years?

The current price of 65$, adjusted by inflation, how many times has happened before?



Fernando, we actually JUST posted on this over at the old oil drum.

Fernando, welcome aboard. Adjusted for inflation, oil prices were about $90/barrel in 1982. Now, we are at about $65/barrel. The difference is this:
  • US oil production peaked in 1971, followed by the OPEC embargo early in the 1970's and the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
  • In 1982, US dependency on imports was very heavy and new supply, which was not yet developed at the time, had not come online.
  • As new supply came online in the 80's and 90's, oil prices fell. US oil import dependency was ignored.
Now, in the year 2005, world oil production is peaking, not just US production. No new supplies of the magnitude of those produced in the 80's are coming online any time soon. The best example of this is the North Sea production, which is now in decline.

Therefore, although prices are still well below their (adjusted for inflation 1982 peak), there are no large oil fields coming online to save us and the problem is world-wide (China, India). Oil discoveries peaked decades ago and new fields coming on line are relatively small. To give you an idea of this, imagine a new field with reserves of 20.7 billion barrels of oil (that would be very large). That is 1000 days of current US demand if we got it all. So, oil is still cheap in the USA because prices are kept artificially low to stimulate the economy. However, this strategy will no longer work in the future as demand outstrips supply.
Do these adjustments account for the strength of the dollar against other currencies?
Thank you for the heads up on the C-SPAN2 event.

It is currently around 11:00 p.m. and I will watch the event at midnight and even some reactions.  I hope every one else will watch the event as well and we can all discuss it after midnight.  

I also found Deffeyes first book the best I have read in terms of simply and clearly describing the facts, and the predicament.  His second book was not quite as good, perhaps because I had set the bar, after the first one, too high.
Then maybe, HO, I won't bother with the second book.
Yeah, I am watching it right now, actually.  So, I guess I'll live blog comment anything of note... (note, I'll also be doing my syllabi while I am watching I may not have all that much to say, but by all all you want and don't wait on me!)

though the chick that just introduced him absolutely butchered about every word she said, including his name, Hubbert, and just about everything else she said.  Moron.  Nervous moron, but moron either way.

wow, those graphs are old school, man.
Note that the original broadcast date was 3/15/05.  Someone at C-SPAN is concerned about the current price of oil/gasoline, and has decided to reshow this.  Curiously, if that someone is concerned, s/he doesn't have much influence because the rebroadcast is at nearly the worst time to show it (the only worse time would be the early morning hours).
He shoots down the "abiotic oil theory" without bothering to mention it.  His answer to the "can hydrogen save us?" question wasn't as good as it could have been.  Simply telling people that hydrogen is not an energy source, but only a "battery" would have made the matter clearer to his audience.
I was particularly disturbed by him saying that shale oil will never be an alterantive. Is that true? Is there no EROI for shale oil?
From Oil Shale at Wikipedia:
Below forty dollars a barrel, oil-shale oil is not competitive with conventional crude oil. If the oil price were to stay permanently at over forty dollars a barrel (with no chance of declining, which could be the case if oil shale were to be exploited on a large enough scale), then companies would exploit oil shale. Generally, the oil shale has to be mined, transported, retorted, and then disposed of, so at least 40% of the energy value is consumed in production. Water is also needed to add hydrogen to the oil-shale oil before it can be shipped to a conventional oil refinery. The largest deposit of oil shale in the United States is in western Colorado (the Green River Shale deposits), a dry region with no surplus water. The oil shale can be ground into a slurry and transported via pipeline to a more suitable pre-refining location.
So, what is the EROEI? Let's consider that. As energy prices rise, heating those rocks to 450-500° C in the retorting process itself becomes more expensive and the figure cited here is "at least 40%". Here in Colorado, water is in short supply on the Western Slope and becoming scarcer due to our changing climate. The environmental demage in development is enormous. Is that counted as a cost?

Counting the water and some downstream costs for transportation after retorting, and discounting the environmental damage, it appears that oil shale EROEI gets very close to 1.0. As I've said before, I doubt with Duffeyes that we'll ever develop oil shale.
I enjoyed the fact that Professor Deffeyes kept the conversation and presentation to geology.

When questions came up about future oil prices or what the effect would be on the price of gasoline at the pump, he simply was honest and stated that those issues all depended on government reaction and what happened to the demand side of the equation.

It continues to amaze me how many layers there are to Peak Oil Theory!!!

You start with the Geology behind the theory.  "Once half of all Oil is depleted, production reaches a peak."  Then you can go further into the Geology and discuss the possibility of using unconventional tar sands, shale oil and coal to replace conventional oil.  Once, you think you have a handle on the geology side of things, you realize that you have not considered the economic impacts of this theory.

So you start with the Economics behind the theory.  "Once we reach the peak of oil production, demand starts to out strip supply."  Then, you can go further into the Economics and discuss how, "when oil prices rise, it may or may not cause demand destruction."  Once you think you have a handle on the economic side of things, you realize that you have not considered the political sub text of this theory.

So you start with the Politics behind the theory.  "Most likely, OPEC has largely overstated it's total oil reserves and the major oil companies have slightly understated their total oil reserves.  Then, you can go further into the Political issues and discuss the fact that, almost none of the OPEC members have had their reserves audited by an independent third party.  Finally, once you think you have a handle on the Geology, Economics, and Politics involved in the Peak Oil Theory, you are still left with the "2 Trillion Barrel Question".  

When will we hit Peak?  2005?  2007?  2010?
And more importantly, will we be able to adjust to the Post Oil World???

It really is true.  "The more you know, the more you understand you know nothing."

So, so true.  It will make your head spin, PR.  It's fascinating...and yet, the more you attempt to integrate all of this information, it truly feels like you are squeezing sand.

But, hey...I guess that's what happens when you run into the largest problem that humanity will probably ever face.  :|

Because we are all denial-based hypocrites, the hardest part to accept is that the Club of Rome was correct in predicting back in 1970 that the human race was sitting on a population time bomb of our own making, that we were heading for overshoot.

Were it not for our unstoppable population growth and desire for economic "prosperity" in the form of SUV's and other large consummables, PO would not be such a problem. Global Warming is the Godzilla that will make PO into a peep squeak side show in the over all, "step back" scheme of things. If we have runaway methane release from the melting permafrost bogs, PO will be the non-event of the century; humanity's last century. Where is your market now, "economy" boy?

(Translation: Who's yo mamma now, economist? Mother Nature? Don't mess with her Mr. Market Captain Ahab. She going to take you down and out on the first count of your silver coins.)

[Generic "all economists aren't morons" rant plus a plea for painting with a narrower brush.]
I kinda have to agree with Lou here.  I think Levitt just framed his piece in a way that reinforced just about every stereotype that gets thrown around about economists.  At least Econbrowser and others are willing to understand that there's things they don't know about the picture...whereas Levitt has a lot of reading to do, and has really damaged his cred around here.
Or once you publish a bestselling book, you get to act like you know everything without any research. Here was the reply I received from Dr. Levitt:

I know more than I admitted about oil.  

My point is that even if you take the numbers in the
Maass article as true, there is no reason to think
disaster is near.


Thank god everything will be ok. I feel so much better.... :)

Anyone ever read Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut?  What I've always remembered was how Vonnegut describes various characters overlooking and underestimating imminent danger because they had recently eaten or copulated, or both, and were feeling pretty good about life.  They suppressed any feelings of peril, dozed off and were killed soon afterwards, at which point the narrator unfailingly noted: "he wasn't going to write Beethoven's Ninth Symphony anyway."

"The late Stephen Jay Gould used to recommend this book to his undergraduate students, because it presents the role of contingency in evolution so clearly and amusingly."

Deffeyes writes interesting books you should go out and buy, but he is a geologist and not an economist or a design engineer.
His second book ignores battery cars and methanol synthesis from coal. It's probably because these are not things that he knows about like he knows about geology. He is a bit elderly and may not want to do the work of looking at alternatives to oil.
But relax. We can mine lower grade lead and zinc sources and build lots of giant lead acid batteries for our cars. Probably about five years from now, if we start right away. Hey, have you heard that they are on back order for big tires for mining vehicles? We've invested so little in mining that the companies can't ramp up production fast enough after the famine they went through for the last twentyfive years.
Synfuel plants are also capital intensive long lead time items. Again, it's about five years till we can ramp up production. We in America are importing iron ore, steel shapes, construction equipment, cement even, and to be a bit blunt, a lot of our labor supply in construction is EAASL, mostly spanish.
You may not drive as far or as fast as you have in the past, for the next five years. Deal with it. It's going to happen. But not forever, just for five years.
I think it's undeniably true that we're facing some short-term bottlenecks caused by underinvestment in certain areas.  And it will take some time to address those imbalances.

And I couldn't agree more about the need to look at the broader energy issues and alternatives, not just the oil situation.  Restricting your focus to just oil willfully makes you one of the blind men touching the elephant, and reaching laughably absurd conclusions.

But things will be OK after five years?  I'll respond the same way I do to the doomsayers who think we'll all be living in caves and eating grubs: Proof, please.

This is not meant to be sarcasm or a bid to start an argument.  My contention all along has been that both ends of the optimism scale are wrong, and that they bring too many preconceived notions to the table.  The doomsayers have this barely hidden desire to see mankmind get its comeuppance, while the rosy scenario crowd can't or won't deal with change (and economic and therefore human pain) on a massive scale.

My personal belief, which I've expressed numerous times here and on my own site, is that peak oil is real, it's imminent (within the next 5 years, likely in 2007 as per ASPO), and it will be a royal bitch.  But it won't be the downfall of industrialized civilization; the people predicting that are, in my opinion, grossly underestimating the flexibility and ingenuity of the human race and, yes, the market.  And the people who are predicting we will continue with "business as usual" are overlooking at least some of the facts and/or their ramifications.

I don't think that the universal demise of industrial civilization is the expected outcome, just the demise of those energy-hog economies that make no serious effort to develop alternates, with the U.S. being numero uno in that regard.  Speaking as an engineer, it is possible to so thoroughly screw up a situation that there is no recovery possible, despite platitudes of human and market flexibility.  And absolutely nothing is happening or planned in the U.S., despite $65/bbl.  
you know lougrizno, for all the hissy fits you throw when people give economists a hard time, you sure are ready to paint with quite a broad brush out the other side of your mouth. As a self diagnosed "doomsayer" i find it reprehensible and offensive that you would imply that anybody actually has a "hidden desire" to see the end of the world. I am terrified about the realities facing us and on the whole i see no way that the future will in any way resemble the present. But for you to say that i want the world to end as some sort of payback makes me want to smack you. I have neices and nephews and friends with children and you think i want them to suffer?

How dare you!

You're missing a larger point.  All these alternatives are energy intensive to set up and produce.
You are missing the largest point. We are not short of energy.
We are short of high octane and high cetane liquid fuels. We have plenty of coal and plenty of power plants, and we can build more power plants and coal mines for baseload power and more line focus solar power plants for peaking power. We can also build more windpower plants.
This is not a problem with energy, but with transportation.
We can increase energy production much more quickly than we can build synthesis plants for liquid fuels and base metal mines for batteries for electric or hybrid cars.