Open Thread

Can anyone point me to some rational, non ad-hominem articles from the other side of the fence?  i.e. the anti-climate change and peak oil people?

I recently realised I'm drinking TOD kool aid way too much and I'd like to rebalance myself a little ;-)

Also, is a story about the Ukraine cabinet being sacked over the recent gas supply problems:

Ukraine's parliament has voted in favour of sacking the government over its recent gas deal with Russia.

A no-confidence vote was backed by 250 of the assembly's 450 deputies - but the president has asked his lawyers to check if the move is constitutional.

I recently realised I'm drinking TOD kool aid way too much and I'd like to rebalance myself a little

SO you're in denial about peak oil??

No, that's not what I meant by my comment about the kool aid.

Any "movement" can attract followers who become too zealous.  For instance, I use macs and love them, but I know that I'd rather use a linux box for a server, and I accept my wife prefers windows.  I know people who would use the mac for everything, force their wife to use the mac, and vehemently shout down anyone who says anything otherwise.

I'm an atheist.  I was raised Christian and find Jesus to be very inspirational.  Simply because I don't believe the more supernatural parts of the bible doesn't mean I discard the whole thing.

I'm just trying to point out that we should be truly 'fair and balanced'.  Not to be politically correct but to be fair to ourselves.

Personally I'm completely convinced we've passed most of the peaks in various oil regions and we're going to have a very turbulent 20 years.  That doesn't stop me seeking out other opinions though.

Bravo. I applaude your intellectual curiosity and your willingness to step outside your ideological comfort zone. I believe that type of courage and curiosity is how we need to define American Patriotism. Without self questioning, this country is dividing into hundreds of self-reinforcing closed ideological groups which barely even understand the language of the other groups. This trend is getting worse with the internet since one can now exclusively listen to any ideologically colored news coverage which suites one own predispositions. This, in my opinion, is the greatest threat to this country, and the most significant change to our culture in the last 50 years.

As an aside, I work in solar cell industry, and I come across numerous pro-solar groups which are very ideologically isolated. They have 'conventional wisdoms' and phrases so often repeated that no one questions them anymore. Some close-minded political ideologies have radicalized solar cells and view solar cells as if they were part of a communist revolution, literally giving power to the people and overthrowing the tyrany and pollution of corporate utilities, ushering in an age of harmonious co-existance with each other and the planet (think Berkeley, CA). They reinforce each other's views through certain web sites and new groups which never challenge their own views and deeply held assumptions. The pseudo-communist view of solar cells is ironic, since I, and other solar businesses, are tapping into venture capital and other capitalist institutions to fund, what we hope will grow into large profitable corporations. We deal with such un-harmonious things like business plans, return on investment, fiance rates, capital depreciation, etc.

hhieslmair: Given your sentiments, I know you can appreciate this. Recently a number of energy / enviro sites have gotten excited over a report claiming that US wind energy will quadruple by 2010. What none of them bother to ask though, was what percentage will that be? Turns out it will barely be 1% by then, even if you're being generous. I've got the math at Earth Sentinel, which covers peak oil, renewable energy, and climate change.
Good!  I'm really glad to hear comments like this because it is way too easy to go overboard when surrounded by people of a like mind.

About the only thing I think we can really predict is turbulence and lots of it.  The problem with predictions is that they are, at best, really crude compared to the complexity of the system we attempt to model.  I'm not saying they aren't a worthwhile effort - just that we shouldn't take them for gospel.  And I don't think most of us here do.

I think the ultimate irony and a likely outcome would be the discovery and mining of vast new oil reservoirs under the Arctic Ocean due to melting of the ice caused by global warming.  We already know its a good candidate given the success at Prudhoe Bay.

If we discover another 1GB of reserves up north then the question will become how fast can that oil be extracted.  Perhaps such a discovery coupled with relatively modest extraction rates could be a good thing since it would give us more time to transition to whatever comes next.

I'd be much happier if we called what's happening now the age of "expensive energy" rather than "peak oil."  It would resonate with a greater audience because I think almost everyone agrees that the cheap energy has been harvested.  The likelihood of finding another oil field like Ghawar with low extraction costs at high volume is essentially zip.  We now climb the price curve.  China has reduced labor costs for production to zero so the cost of energy has to become the primary factor in the price of finished goods.

"we're going to have a very turbulent 20 years."

So if we just batten down the hatches, put up the storm shutters and hang on tight, the hurricane will pass over and we can start the clean up and everything will be alright again?

No, this is not some incident we have to survive. This will be a fundamental change in the way we live. There is no other side to the problems of peak. The question is what new kind of life, new kind of economy, new kind of society will we create. And this is going to take a bit longer than 20 years.

A very healthy sentiment.  I believe there are many troubles ahead, and most of them related.  I tend to think people underestimate the scope of the problem by looking only at production figures, because I think the "noise" and losses will increase, and make it harder for us to realize the amount of energy that we could theoretically be producing.  But this is just my hunch, and I have no data to back it up.  

The big question is the timing, and I know I don't have the answers.  I know I could be quite mistaken in the assumptions I have arrived at, regardless of how convinced I am.  The specter of the Y2K doomsayers I laughed at always hovers over my head!  All I can do is try to stay educated and be ready and willing to change direction.  The internet may provide too much positive feedback, but then the "news" provides none.  So we're left to search out the truth as best we can.  I find that overall, this is the best way, as it forces us to make decisions on our own, while the alternative is blind acceptance of the propaganda.  Reading the arguments from the opposing side of the argument is valuable - but it can be hard to wade through to find ones of value.  

So a proposal - TOD should post links to articles/discussions of opposing/contrary opinion, but limited to well reasoned and rational ones.  It could be a section like the "Peak Oil Primers", or a defined part of the "Blogroll".  This would reinforce the reality of TOD as I see it, which is that it is a balanced discussion of people trying to learn and understand, not mindless ideological preaching.

"The specter of the Y2K doomsayers I laughed at always hovers over my head!"

The Y2K problem was real and a huge amount of IT work was done to update software. But the doomsayers had indeed wrong. The Peak Oil is a real problem, but the "Petrocollapse" people are just phoney doomsayers. IT people could assess the Y2K quite correctly, so can the oil people assess the Peak Oil. There is no way to dismiss the energy problems, but the real challenge is to have a realistic view on them.

Ah geez, just when u think the peak is around the corner, EIA comes around and spoils it for the Peakists (again).  From today's STEO:
Global Petroleum Markets -
With this January Outlook, EIA's assessment of world oil market balances is
extended to 2007.  World oil demand growth is expected to increase from 1.2
million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2005 to 1.6 million bbl/d in 2006, largely
because U.S. demand is projected to recover from a net decline in 2005 to show
growth of 410,000 bbl/d in 2006. Demand growth is projected to increase further
to 1.9 million bbl/d in 2007 as demand picks up because of economic growth in
developing Asian countries (excluding China). Other Asian growth had slowed
because of subsidy cuts in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand. Chinese
demand growth is projected to stay on its overall annual trend of about 500,000
bbl/d. OECD demand growth outside the United States is expected to remain low.
However, despite this strong projected growth in demand, world spare oil
production capacity is projected to increase during 2006 and 2007 as non-OPEC and
OPEC supplies increase.  This increase in spare capacity is expected to ease the
current tightness in world oil markets and moderate the world oil price increases
seen during the past year. Non-OPEC supply, which grew by an average of 800,000
bbl/d between 1995-2005, is projected to grow by 900,000 bbl/d in 2006 and by 1.7
million bbl/d in 2007. This non-OPEC supply forecast hinges on the U.S. forecast,
and whether a repeat hurricane scenario next summer takes out production in the
Gulf of Mexico again.

Non-OPEC supplies are projected to show significant gains on a net basis over
2006-2007 despite continued declines in mature fields in the North Sea, Mexico,
and the Middle East, and slower growth in Russia.  Outside of the United States,
net production increases for 2006 of 100,000-200,000 bbl/d are expected in the
Caspian, Canada, Angola, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico areas.  Large new projects in
2007 are projected to lead to increases of almost 500,000 bbl/d in Angola, almost
400,000 bbl/d in the Caspian, over 200,000 bbl/d in Brazil, and over 200,000
bbl/d in Canada.
So much for the plateau, eh!

Freddy, why do you do this? We all know what the EIA says, and they are great for getting past data, but predicting tomorrow using a straight line that goes through today doesn't work. It approximates, at best. You should know this.
It's of particular interest to ask how they did last year. The January 2005 Short Term Energy Outlook includes some choice quotes such as:
WTI prices fell by $10 per barrel on average during the past two months due to: the ongoing restoration of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico shut in due to Hurricane Ivan, unseasonably warm weather in the United States, and rising U.S. and OECD commercial oil inventories in general. This Outlook extends the projection period through 2006. EIA's initial assessment is that WTI prices are likely to remain in the $42?$43 per barrel range (on average) throughout 2005?2006.
Oops. It's especially instructive to look at their figure 2, in which they quote a two standard deviation error bar that runs around $32-$52. Ie they thought the probability of $60 oil was negligible (I won't hold the $70 hurricane price against them since they had an explicit caveat about not including major supply disruptions.
Working gas in storage is estimated to have totaled 2,698 billion cubic feet at the end of December. This figure is 5 percent higher than one year ago and 12 percent higher than the five?year average. With the heating season now more than half over and ample storage, natural gas prices are likely to ease over the next several months. Henry Hub prices are expected to average $5.77 per mcf in 2005.
Oops again.
Domestic natural gas production in 2005 is projected to increase by 1.7 percent from 2004 levels, partly due to high gas?directed drilling rates and partly due to continued recovery in the Gulf of Mexico from the effects of Hurricane Ivan. Steady increases in liquefied natural gas imports, restrained export growth, and carryover from the robust storage levels noted above are expected to contribute to moderate improvement in the supply picture in 2005.
It's also interesting to look at Figure 16, where they expected 2005 to be the first year in 30 odd in which domestic oil production increased. The link is a PDF and I don't have a quick way to get the figure out of it, but it looks exactly like this one, except for the 2005 bar going up instead of down.

Hope springs eternal at the EIA.

where they expected 2005 to be the first year in 30 odd in which domestic oil production increased.

According to the EIA 2004 Annual Energy Review, U.S. domestic petroleum production increased 9 times in the last 30 years -- in 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1991.

Thanks for the correction JD - sloppy of me not to check before extrapolating the general trend to a stronger claim.
That's interesting, JD, but 1980-85 was the Alaskan north slope production entering the system and it didn't alter the downtrend for more than a few years.

Got another North Slope you can pop open every 5 years in North America?

But let's look at the US data from the EIA just so we can get a clear picture of what really happened.

When we look at that chart, the North Slope event is obvious and the other few years you mention are nothing but minor blips.

So yes, production managed to increase a few times, by minor amounts aside from the North Slope production. But those variations were irrelevant to the overall trend. I'll even say that I expect production to rarely increase in North America in the coming few decades but each such increase will again be tiny and have no real impact on the general downward trend of North American production.

What is of concern is the general trend. Should Stuart have double checked his facts? Sure. But even with the minor errors, the intent of his statement, that oil production has been on a 30 year downward trend, remains true.

For reference, the source for Freddy's quote is here:

Here is an interesting graph of predicted world oil production growth, let's see if I can inline it:

This shows the actual growth (or decline) in each region in 2005, and the predicted growth in 2006 and 2007. Of note is the U.S. which fell enormously in 2005 due to the hurricanes but is predicted to recover most of that. One odd thing is that I don't see many OPEC countries listed, and you'd think that would be important.

Another interesting datum is that they predict that the North Sea declines in Norway and the U.K. will be LESS (in absolute terms) this year due to new production coming online. Many people have commented here on the supposed collapse in North Sea production so it will be interesting to see if they can at least reduce the decline rate as the EIA predicts. They also predict that Mexico will have an increase in 2006 after coming off a declining year in 2005.

The EIA has kind of a bad name around here for over-optimistic forecasts, but predicting only one year ahead I would think they would try to be accurate. For example they are predicting higher oil and gas prices for 2006 than for 2005. So I am inclined not to write off their predictions as anti-peak oil propaganda. As I said it will be interesting to see how they do.

I'm not saying it's antipeak propaganda. They don't really predict because they're not really in the business of predicting.

It would be like if I wanted to predict how the DOW was going to perform this year. What If I disregarded any news about the economy and the stocks and sectors included in the DOW. Instead I just took the average return for the last 10 years and said that was going to be what we get this year. 10 years out, no problem, just multiply by 10. 25 years out? Same thing.

In fact, in some of their anaylsis they simply come up with three lines into the future(scenarios) based on three different prices of oil. we'll just throw a whole handful of darts, we're bound to hit something.

"but predicting only one year ahead I would think they would try to be accurate"

Yes, but you would have thought that about the Exxon predictions of 3 years of production growth that they predicted in 2001 and that Stuart analysed last month.  It ended up being essentially flat.

I think the EIA is making the same mistake - underestimating the decline rates.

For instance, I doubt Mexico will be able to increase production, especially if Canterell either a) declines in a similar fashion to the North Sea, or b) is hit by another Hurricane this year.

And I reckon that the UK decline rate will dwarf any new production there.  One of my friends has just finished working for a swedish exploration company.  He worked on a field on the UK side that was pumping 95% water!

Halfin, I'm missing something here, but I don't know what. The U.S. supply is supposed to grow in 2006 and 2007?  Hasn't the U.S. supply been declining since 1970?  I'd think if it was going to increase by 600,000 bpd, that would be huge news. On the other hand, if it was U.S. demand was supposed to increase by that amount, I wouldn't be shocked.
You are correct. The US increasing its production by 600,000 barrels in 2 years is beyond crazy. It has lost that much in the last 10 years.

Why would 2006 and 2007 be different from 2004 and 2005? makes no sense, prices have been increasing for at least 3 years. Oh, suddenly a bunch of domestic investment that nobody's heard of is going to come to fruition in the next two years?

ANWR isn't supposed to come online for a minimum of 5 years and more like 10.

So you can forget about 600,000 more barrels from the US and start looking somewhere else.

The graph is showing the change relative to the previous year.

In other words, they are saying that the US will pump more in 2006 than they did in 2005, which is not too difficult given the huge shut-in figures from the hurricanes.  But that is also assuming there are no big huricanes this year to produce similar shut-ins.

The 2007 increase is a little harder to understand, because they are saying that after recovering from last year's hurricanes, the US will then increase production still further! I would love to know where they think that's coming from.  Maybe they think that ANWR will be pumping by then!

Here's the North America specific graph:


I can't find where they are more specific about the "Gulf of Mexico Production Growth".

Maybe they're going to raise some of the sunken platforms and start them drilling again!

Here's another one of their spoofy graphs:


Are they really expecting us to believe this crap?

Anyone know where they're getting these increases from?

I think Yergin has a hotline to Karl Rove's desk. he just calls and has a marine squad sent over to the EIA Ministry of Oil to make sure CERA orders are carried out.
Duncan, when you inline those things add width="100%" to the IMG tags and it fits better:


As far as why they think U.S. production will be up in 2007, I don't know but maybe it is because there is still a certain amount of production shut-in right now in 2006 and they are figuring that that will slightly depress 2006 production from what it could be. They do note that they are assuming no major hurricane damage in 2006. However I don't think that will account for the change, so I guess they have some new GoM production in mind.

Freddy, what I'd like to know is why a Canadian like yourself can be duped by this kind of US propaganda?

Figure 20 above must be proof to you that these guys are smoking some good shit!

This article should give Freddy some cheer (seeing as he's Canadian) but it doesn't sound too good for oil supplies overall...

Alberta oil sands will be world's largest source of new crude oil by 2010: CIBC

Alberta's oil sands will become the most important source of new oil in the world by 2010 as conventional crude dries up, CIBC World Markets says in its latest monthly report.

Alberta will sit on one of the most valuable energy sources in the world by that time, and one of the few still open to private investment, said Jeff Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, the bank's wholesale banking arm.

He added that conventional oil production around the world apparently peaked in 2004....

[see link for the rest]

Good article. I should state here that I think SUNCOR is a decent play, however maybe a little pricey at $70 now, I think. I would be looking to buy if it dips down below $40, though. From an investor's standpoint, I'm hoping they have some more fires in their tar-fields to kill their outlook for a few quarters.

The important part is the last paragraph. All of Canada's tar sands produced 270,000 bpd of liquid in 2005. That is projected to increase to ONLY 500,000 bpd in the next five years. This is at the same time that the cornucopians are adding 180 Billion barrels of this "sand" to worldwide reserves. Insanity. We need a million barrels per year, not 50,000.

The Dow Jones Newswire is also carrying the CIBC story.

Although CIBC doesn't differ much from the EIA for new supplies coming online in 2006 they make a point of saying that most new supply additions are increasingly coming from deep water, tar sands, and other non-conventional deposits, and that the new supplies increasingly will not be able to keep pace with depletion in conventional fields.  The EIA is pretty silent on depletion by comparison.  Consequently the CIBC price estimates are substantially higher than the EIA's for the next year.  If I were out to poke a hole in the EIA predictions I'd concentrate on their depletion estimates rather than their new supply numbers.

I agree with Freddy that we haven't seen peak production yet.  If the recent flattening of the global production curve were due to supply constraints we would have seen a much stronger price response.  Instead I think the slack production is due to weak demand, not so much in this country, but in less affluent parts of the globe.  Gasoline prices here didn't stay high enough long enough to create much of a dent in long term behavior and after a few cold weeks in Dec the winter is turning warmer than average in the US.  Rather consider the effects of diesel and cooking fuel price increases where the average wage is substantially below the western world (especially in Indonesia where domestic subsidies were partially eliminated last year) - I would wager that there is a lot more conservation and fuel switching going on in the third world.  I haven't seen any statistics to support this, it's just my best guess.

I'm with you here. Demand destruction already began in the 3rd world, most importantly China and India where demand essentially flattened. IMO we are going to see much smoother price increase than I personally hope because the prices are already too high for them. A lot of people are predicting 100-150$/bbl soon but I'm not sure they include in this prediction the resulting collapse of many third world countries.
Yes but the third world countries that will experience demand destruction at these prices account for only a very small percentage of the daily oil consumption.

Remember that North America, Europe and Japan account for about half the daily oil consumption.

I remember reading somewhere that the OECD countries account for almost 60% of the daily oil consumption.

And Europe is already coping with petrol ('gas' to the US) prices double that in America, so that shows that the US, at least, can easily survive with $100-150 oil without much demand destruction.

Freddy apparently bailed on this "rational" discussion after he dumped a bunch of meaningless EIA garbage on us. I'm still cracking up that he's listed as a "critic" along with Yergin and Lynch under Wikipedia. Freddy, please tell me you didn't submit your own name. Oh, that is some funny stuff.
Freddy, I have just one word for you - Burgan.

Forecasts even the best ones are best guesses and hopes.

I got one last year from a well regarded bank on oil prices and it was wrong from day 1. It did not get any better for the other 364 days in the year past.

I just can't wait to see all that production coming on line and driving down prices. North Sea and Mexico humming along merrily disregarding decline opportunities.  

Maybe we might keep this and compare it with reality in 365 days time.

Can't wait.

I don't think the peak is around the corner.  I think it's past.  
We wouldn't use the word "rational" in this context here, but you can try the names Daniel Yergin and Michael Lynch. Also Exxon-Mobil released some stuff mid-December about oil being King for a few more years. I saw it in the Dallas Morning News.
Vaclav Smil, Distinguished Professor of Geography, University of Manitoba

Smil, V. 2006. Peak oil: A catastrophist cult and complex realities. World Watch 19: 22-24.

Thanks for the link. A few excerpts:
I see no persuasive reason to prefer the most conservative estimate ofthe ultimately recoverable conventional oil offered by Campbell & Company (no more than 1.8 trillion barrels) rather than substantially higher totals favored by other geologists, including those at the U.S. Geological Survey (their latest estimate is just over 3 trillion barrels).

Between 1980 and 2003 the amount of oil that the US economy used to generate an average dollar of its GDP fell by 43% as its oil intensity declined somewhat faster than the overall relative energy use. And so in order to get an approximate but realistic comparison of how much today's prices impact an average manufacturer or average household purchases we should multiply the current high price of $55/bbl by 0.57 to get an effective comparable price of around $30, or no more than 40% of the average record price we
paid in 1980.

I don't know what to think of this guy. He's clearly a cornucopian and don't seem to be very well informed!
Make no mistake, Smil is not a cornucopian and he is very well informed about energy issues. Read this from his "Energy at the crossroads":
(pags 338-339)
What is called for is a moderation of demand so that the affluent Western nations would reduce their extraordinarily high per capita energy consumption not just by 10% or 15% but by at least 25%-35%. Such reductions would call for nothing more than a return to levels that prevailed just a decade or no more than a generation ago. How could one even use the term sacrifice in this connection? Did we live so unbearably 10 or 30 years ago that the return to those consumption levels cannot be even publicly contemplated by serious policymakers because they feel, I fear correctly, that the public would find such a suggestion unthinkable and utterly unacceptable? I will return to these fundamental questions later in this chapter.

However modest, or even timid, any calls for living with less may be, they are fundamentally incompatible with the core belief of modern economics that worships not just growth, but sustainable growth at healthy rates (judging by the comments of ubiquitous Chief Economists commenting on the last quarter's GDP this means at least 2-3%/year). Only the widespread scientific illiteracy and innumeracy-all you need to know in this case is how to execute the equation y=x·e(rt)*-prevents most of the people from dismissing the idea of sustainable growth at healthy rates as an oxymoronic stupidity whose pursuit is, unfortunately, infinitely more tragic than comic. After all, even cancerous cells stop growing once they have destroyed the invaded tissues.

If we are to prevent the unbounded economic growth doing the same to the Earth's environment then the preservation of the biosphere's integrity must become a high purpose of human behavior. Inevitably, this must entail some limits on human aquisitiveness in order to leave room for the perpetuation of other species, to maintain irreplaceable environmental services without whose provision there could be no evolution and no civilization, and to keep the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from rising so rapidly and to such an extent that the Earth would experience global tropospheric warming unmatched during the evolution of our species from ancestral hominids.

(* "rt" should be superscripted)

(pags 349-350)
What Really Matters
The first question-is the moderation of our transformation of the biosphere des ir­able?-is the easiest one to answer. We know enough about the true foundations of our civilization to realize that it is not imperiled by our inability to sustain high rates of economic growth for prolonged periods of time but rather by continuing degradation weakening of the biospheric foundations of their environment. Histori­cal record shows that many societies collapsed because of local or regional environ­mental degradation (Taintner 1988). During the twentieth century this degradative process had become evident even on the planetary scale. This is a matter of high concern because the existence of complex human societies depends on the incessant provision of essential and hence invaluable environmental services.

What ecologists take for granted, most of the economists-transfixed by human actions, and viewing the environment merely as a source of valuable goods-have yet to accept: no matter how complex or affluent, human societies are nothing but open subsystems of the finite biosphere, the Earth's thin veneer of life, which is ulti­mately run by bacteria, fungi, and green plants (Smil 2002). Advanced civilization, humane and equitable, could do very well without Microsoft and Wal-Mart or with­out titanium and polyethylene-but, to choose just one of many obvious examples, not without cellulose-decomposing bacteria. Only these organisms can take apart the most massive component of plant matter accounting for about half of all trunks, roots, lea ves, and stalks. In their absence more than 100 billion tons of plant tissues that die every year (the mass more than ten times larger than all fossil fuels we now extract in ayear) would begin piling up in forests, on grasslands, and on fields.

If ours were a rational society we would be paying much more anxious attention to nature's services than to Dow Jones and NASDAQ indices. Above all, we would not be destroying and damaging with such abandon the stock s of natural capital­intricate assemblages of living organisms in forests, grasslands, wetlands, fertile soils, coastal waters, or coral reefs-that produce the astounding array of environmental services. Our pursuit of high rates of economic growth has resulted in an ever larger share of the Earth's primary productivity being either harvested for human needs or affected by our actions, it has already destroyed large areas of natural ecosystems, polluted, modified much of what remains, and it keeps on impoverishing the global biodiversity that took immense energy flows and long time spans to evolve.

These trends cannot continue unabated for yet another century. We canno't double the share of the photosynthetic production that we already harvest without severely imperilling the availability of irreplaceable environmental goods and weakening the delivery of indispensable ecosystemic services (Daily 1997; Smil 2002). As energy uses are responsible for such a large share of this worrisome anthropogenic transfor­mation it is imperative to at least begin the process of limiting their environmental impacts in general, and the threat of unprecedented global warming in particular.

Although Smil has an issue regarding predictions of future availability of fossil fuels, he understands very well the problem. What I don't understand is why his attacks are so vicious, if he recognizes we are at the "energy crossroads"... sure, Campbell et al can be wrong by 10 years, but it's not the exact peak prediction what it matters, it's the whole picture, specially the "need to growth"...
I'm just concerned about the two arguments he wrote in WoldWatch that are incomplete and a coarse description of the reality:
  • the 2000 USGS's estimate for the URR is an outlier far above all the previous estimates, not just Campbell.
  • the increasing ratio GDP/oil consumption, used often by economists, is a misleading indicator because you can conclude that the economy is dematerializing because on the other hand the oil consumption/capita has remained constant for the last 30 years.
Yes, me too, that is what is so bizarre about a man that knows how important the energy from oil is...
I agree that Smil is very well informed. I've perused a couple of his numerous books in recent years. They are extremely detailed. What Smil never seems able to do is reach a conclusion about anything.  For that reason I was very surprised to see him actually take a stand on something---peak oil in this case---at least without smothering it with a hundred qualifications. For him, that's progress!
We could easily reduce our oil consumption by 25% by just having our wives stay home and deporting all the immigrants. No commuters, no gasoline consumption.
If we did that our wages would go sky high, half the jobs in America would be unfilled, and the stock market would go to 1100 instead of 11,000. After inflation, of course, it would probably go to 110,000.
Does anybody know if the workers at the USGS are geologists, with years of hands on experience looking for oil, or economists?
The USGS is comprised primarily of geologists, many with distinguished academic credentials, but most have never worked in the oil industry.  They do not have access to the kind of data that the IOC's routinely have, and they are divorced from the economic realities that exist in the real world regarding the feasibility of producing hydrocarbons.  Consequently their forecasts are almost always extremely optimistic compared to industry.
There was an article in the LA Times that quotes a government geologist on peak oil:

But he wasn't named.

There's also this report:

I suspect many USGS geologists know the score, or suspect it.  But they're a government agency, and are subject to political considerations.

Don't you think that the best critics on the PO theory are the folks here ? They keep saying that they don't know the real URR, they don't know for sure that the Hubbert model for prediction is better than the Gaussian or any other, that we lack the real data concerning the giant arabian oil fields etc ...

Il feel the discussion at TOD is one of the best sources available for a balanced discussion of this issue. For myself, I believe, because of it's repeated validation, that the Hubbert model is actually the less worse availabe for predicting the future.

A matter however rarely discussed is : what is the real EROEI for oil extraction at the moment ? I think that is one of the most important parameters in analyzing the near future, if we assume a plateau is coming.

A matter however rarely discussed is : what is the real EROEI for oil extraction at the moment ? I think that is one of the most important parameters in analyzing the near future...

Go ahead, discuss it. If it is "one of the most important parameters," then why can't you tell us what it is? Or, if you have no idea what it is how can you know it is important? I would love to discuss it. Give me some basics to work with.

Well ok. The EROEI is the ratio between the energy recovered vs the energy invested. Energy invested includes energy for the whole chain of production, from the extraction to the refinery process.

In the PO theory, oil production reaches a plateau, then irreversibly declines. But at the plateau, and even before, oil becomes more difficult to recover, requiring more energy to be invested. The oil extracted is more polluted (with water for instance) or of less quality, requiring more energy for refining to maintain the flow of end products. Thus the EROEI decreases.

When individual wells are on the downslope, this decrease of EROEI is no issue when there are cheap sources of energy available (when oil is available elsewhere at low cost for energy production).

But when the world peaks, the increasing energy required for oil production will have to be paid for. In my understanding, if EROEI really decreases, even if we maintain production, this is a basic factor increasing the price of oil.

I have read elsewhere (I think it was on Matt Savinar's) that the EROEI of oil had decreased from about 15 to 7. If this is the case, and if this trend continues, then I don't see how we can maintain growth when oil peaks even with a smooth plateau. However I am not able to verify these figures because the estimates vary wildely and are not often adressed synthetically.

I totally agree, but this isn't really anything new. It is most commonly described as "Easy Oil." I think the Chevron CEO said recently that the age of easy oil is over. It has also been a number that has been tossed around as dollars(invested)per each new barrel of production per day(gained). They say the number is relatively small in the US, because our advanced state of technology and infrastructure - say $500, as opposed to $7000 dollars in Saudi Arabia. Then there is the current production cost per barrel, which is going to be higher in the West Texas than in Ghawar. It all works out into the final price of oil, which is really what matters.

At $60 a barrel, some are extracting for $1 and some for $30, so every producer makes a profit of between $30-59. If the production costs go up on average, then so does the final cost. If it costs $190 to get a barrel out of the ground, but nobody is willing to pay more than $180, well then, nobody is going to extract that oil.

So the price causes pain for the consumer, but not necessarily for the producer, who will continue to invest in new production as long as they can make a profit.

As far as how much energy it takes to extract energy. Well, should be fairly simple. Oil is $60. Let's say average production costs are $10/barrel. The ratio is therefore 1-to-6. If it cost $55 to bring that same barrel to market, the ratio would be 11-12. You convert dollars to oil or BTU's and then compare.

This of course brings up the uncertainty involved with the peak oil theory, because it takes us into unexplored territory.

Peak oil says that as you slide down the backside of Hubbert's curve, no matter how much you invest, you still will not be able to pull more oil out of the ground on a year-to-year basis. But the only proof we have are situations where there was a real substitute. In 1971-2-3, US production peaked, but not in a vacuum. Saudi Oil acted as a direct substitute for the investment. When the Arab States embargoed, Iran made up the difference. The real price hardships didn't come until the early 80's with the onset of the Iran-Iraq war, but by then a worldwide recessionary environment had put the brakes on growth and the lid on oil use.

Things are different this time around. There will be no substitute aside from a massive shift to "other" forms of energy. Again, this is a liquid-fuels crisis. At what point will people not be able to pay for the investment in ultra-deepwater oil extraction? $200? $300? we just don't know yet. But if the consumer will pay $300, then the producer will invest $290 to extract it.

Thank you. I agree for most things you have written. But I would like to pause on a classical argument : can we measure the energy invested in production by the amount we pay ?

I mean, the real measure of energy would be the joules invested vs the joules obtained when we burn or use the endproducts. The cost of these joules are influenced by a whole number of factors so they also can cost a lot more or less in a particular situation. But, oil being by far the predominant source of energy, we can compute the number of barrels used for extracting another number of barrels (and this seems to be close to 1 barrel oil for 10 or 15 barrels at the moment).

This is also why it is so difficult to know wether the tar-sands in canada will once be a replacement solution or if deep coal mining will once be economically viable. I just don't know how much real energy (in joules or equivalent barrels) it will take to exploit these energy sources, and in the long time for oil.

Indeed we can rely only on the economic models to know how oil will be priced, but the underlying physical counterparts should be assessed to fully understand what is at hands ... IMHO.

Deffeyes, I believe has made the argument that tar-sands production is way too energy intensive to be worth it. You are right, there is a point where you are using 9 barrels of oil to bring 10 out of the ground, which doesn't make much sense if there are only so many barrels left. But at that point you are so far down the backside of the curve, that the game is lost.

Tar sands production is only forecast to expand to about 2 million bpd by 2010 or maybe 2015, I forget. Whatever it is, it is not going to cut it. We are going to run out of NG just cooking sand.

The world needs between 1 and 2 million bpd, every year, just to keep this Chinese-US consumer juggernaut going. reserves don't matter. If we hit a wall with new production in the next few years, nothing is going to fill the gap. Nothing. Not Biofuels, not hydrogen, not electricity, not NG, not LNG - none of the systems are in place, none of the infrastructure. We have a clueless bunch of corporate whores in Washington who have no interest but to keep the status quo. So we are left with price to somehow fix the problem.

Back when I was a hands-on production geologist working West Texas properties I used to closely track the per-barrel operating cost for oil we produced.  Energy was one of the costs which was included in the total operating cost (along with royalty, severance tax, labor cost, etc.).  The cost of energy to produce a barrel of oil, even high-cost, onshore US oil, was always a small fraction of the total operating cost.  This is not necessarily true for California steam flood oil or Canadian Tar Sand oil, but as a weighted average for the whole world, I seriously doubt that the cost of the energy which is used to produce that oil is more than $1.00/barrel. (I am not including the energy which may be required to refine and transport it half way around the globe.  That could add another 3 to 8 dollars depending on the quality of the crude and where it is coming from)

My premise is that cost could be easily scaled to energy content if that was necessary and is a useful proxy for the amount of energy used to extract the resource.

Michael Lynch is the most thoughtful and intelligent peak-oil sceptic I've read. If you search for "michael lynch oil" at you'll find a few of his papers.
And here's Michael!

Stuart, I assume you've read this one-- The New Pessimism about Petroleum Resources: Debunking the Hubbert Model (and Hubbert Modelers) (pdf).

Consider yourself debunked.
Personally I find articles about if we will peak or when we will peak as somewhat of a waste of time.  A number of them are interesting and I like to keep up with where we are on the plateau but I'm sensing a major away from those conversations towards new a one- the conversation about what we're going to do about peak and subsequent decline is the ones that seems most relevant.
What I like about Michael Lynch (aka spike) is that he has the courage to defend his convictions directly with the average hostile peakoiler on

Michael Lynch - Disputing Peak Oil
Peak Oil is here!

It's challenging to rip Lynch to shreds on the Peak Oil board. He has an innate self-healing property.

I'll tell you one thing; Lynch may or may not know the truth, but he uses the mistakes that all the peak oil modelers seem to make -- namely the use of questionable statistical fitting -- as a sword to skewer themselves with.  It's all self-inflicted wounds in my opinion. Lynch himself doesn't have any theories, all he has is counter-arguments, and a few are accurate.  I looked up at least one obscure article that he touts in my local research library and found it empty of any theories of his own devising. Yet, he will skewer you with:

  1. Impossibility of symmetric production models
  2. Causality violations
  3. Bad statistical shenanigans, like those ordered creaming curves that keep creaping upwards.

The truth is there, Lynch just twists your arguments around to his advantage. A very savvy character.


I have reviewed this, but would you please give a specific area of the article upon which you wish for us to comment?  Do you want us to review his usage of URR?  

Overall, I judge that this isn't as much of a comment on peak oil, as it is an attack on the Hubbert curve...

Creaming curves is a prime-o area of Lynch's to munch on.

I took a couple of hours today to debunk his creaming curve arguments here:

As for the rest of his arguments, I have debunked these as well, but you have to get rid of the whole logistic or gaussian curve arguments or you will fall into his favorite tautology traps -- imposssible symmetry or causality violations.

Most of the people on TOD seem to want to hang on to their belief in the logistic formulation, and so Lynch will continue to eat their lunch, in a figurative sense.  Lynch is wrong of course, but his arguments amount to a perfect framing that every right-wing political tactician would be damn proud of.

Excellent WHT!

I love how you have addressed the language patterns of his arguments...

I just finished "Black Gold" and have to state that most of the anti-PO arguments are psychological and/or language patterning.  The authors defiantly qualify as Korzbyski's "Psychotic Psychologists."  As far as technical skills are concerned, well that is another matter.

I'm a CHE, but years ago I got a Masters in NLP, and I still look back on those days fondly...nights spent flaming each other over presuppositions and logic.  Ah well, maybe one day I will find the time to get back into this...

Keep it up WHT!

World Watch Magazine recently devoted an issue to Peak Oil in which there were multiple articles that covered both sides of the debate (  It is worth checking out.  Also, the recent testimony from the congressional hearings on Peak Oil had some non-peak oil folks that gave some analysis as well (one of the guys was a prinicipal at CERA).

Sorry for post below, I meant it to be a reply to this thread.  I am new at this, so have pity...

That's exactly right dizzy...critical thought is your best friend.
In addition to the excellent pointers above, I strongly recommend James Hamilton's blog .  Hamilton is an economics professor at UC San Diego whose research includes analysis of the effects of oil prices on the economy.

His energy-related postings are collected at . In particular see his three-part series showing why the evidence from oil markets is inconsistent with the more extreme and near-term Peak Oil models:

How to talk to an economist about peak oil

Further discussion about economists and peak oil

Discussions with economists about peak oil: Chapter 3

The "How to talk to an economist about peak oil" is quite good and has been alluded to before. James Hamilton basically lays out a "Hotelling" economics of scarcity argument like I did here. Barry P, commenting on that thread, says
Second point: what you're describing above, of course, is the Hotelling theory in a nutshell. Having studied energy economics at the doctoral level, I know all too well. As a consequence, I also understand it's failings, the most obvious being that it requires the extent of the reserve to be known. That is, it kicks in when we are near the "endstate". Since it has not been observed, we can be pretty sure we have yet to enter the endstate. Which is one of the many reasons why I feel that "Peak Oil" is a sophistic folly.
Since Peak Oil people like myself believe we do have a good handle on the URR, I thought I'd give Hotelling another look. Of course, you contemptuously dismissed altogether my attempt to discuss the economics of scarce resources....

have a good one...
The Peak Oil entry on Wikipedia (, also via link on RHS of TOD home page) has a section on "Critics."  Listed are Daniel Yergin, Julian Simon, Michael Lynch, Peter Huber, & Freddy Hutter (TOD member).
This is a joke, right?
Some wing-nut home-schooler must have deleted the Peak_oil entry.

... Oh its there, remove the comma from the end of the Wiki word. Badly formed Wiki-linki.

I'm drinking TOD kool aid way too much and I'd like to rebalance myself a little

Skepticism is healthy. Good question.

I think both sides of the fence suffer from the same problems. First, we really do not know what is down there under and neither do "they". Second, we are both trying to predict the future --and this is always a risky business. No one knows for sure what the future will bring. If an Armagedden size asteroid hits the Earth soon, all our worries about oil will be for naught.

Both sides of the Peak Oil debate base their position on what they consider to be "sound" logic.

I myself am a kool-aid drinker also, therefore this might be biased, but I see the anti-Peakers as basing their position on several "truths" which they hold to be unquestionable:

  1. The Markets will provide, they always have.
  2. The Peakers were wrong before, and therefore they will be wrong this time again.
  3. "Science" will come up with amazing new technologies real soon, just as it "always" (cough cough) has in the past and these new technologies will save us. After all, Necessity is the Always Fertile Mother of Invention, and when the true need arises, the techno nerds will come though with something or other to save our skins. We don't have to worry because the Invisible Hand always provides, always has.
  4. Even if oil does become scarce, we have lots of fall back positions or Plans B to rely on: nuclear, natural gas, coal, tar sands, shale oil, etc. etc.

On the other side, we Peakers base our beliefs also on axioms that are not 100% unassailable:

  1. Hubbert was right before, therefore he'll be right this time.
  2. Oil production is amenable to mathematical modeling of the logistic curve kind.
  3. Technology will not come up with some amazing new thing that will make our worries moot (i.e., cold fusion for real this time)
  4. Coal, nuclear, tar sands are not viable fall back positions.

Neither side has a bullet proof position. Even if Peak Oil is sure to happen (which I believe it is), we still do not know for sure WHEN it will or has happened, and we do not know for sure what the rate of decline is or will be.

Certainly the main posters to this page, Stuart, Prof Goose, etc. have done an excellent job of teaching us about the various modeling curves (Hubbert, Gaussian, etc.) and many of those curves point to an imminent Peak and substantial decline rate. But we don't know for sure.

James Schlesinger wrote the lead article in the recent edition of The National Interest, titled "The Coming Oil Crisis."

This is an excellent mid-length piece that covers all the main topics of peak oil, including what could be interpreted as a swipe at Yergin. "Fair and balanced," with some interesting new slants on some points.

Quite refreshing to see such a good article from a big name in a mainstream publication. Hopefully there will be more exposure like this to bring the issue to the attention of the intellectual and oil-layperson.

I can't find a non-subscriber accessible version online, otherwise I would post some quotes.

That's encouraging, because as recently as a couple of years ago, Schlesinger was a climate change cynic. He was writing editotials bashing globa warming.
Personally, I'd love to see more threads on economic survival post-Peak. I was really enjoying the recent one about about Adam Smith, but it died rather suddenly.

Last year I say Ron Howard's boxing movie, The Cinderella Man, which is considered to have one of the very best depictions of the Great Depression ever shown on film. What struck me was the complete helplessness of the general population. Without work available, people in the cities just sat around waiting for the next government check, so that they could continue their subsistence level existence.

My question is how can we avoid that same fate in the future. What are the things we can do on a local level to stimulate economic activity?

Over here in Sweden we have an election this year. There are a large number of ideas on how to make the economy and state more efficient by getting rid of redundant and not very usefull laws and regulations and in business lingo consolidate authorities. This is resisted by the current government since they built a lot of these not very efficient systems and a lot of their friends and realtives are emploed by them. The opposition wich I am part of is not as eager to do something about this as I would like us to be but some things will get done if the election goes our way.

This is the opposit of the local level but you do never the less have to exercise yor democracy on every level to get the best out of it.

One problem I run in to while agitating for sensible enviromental and energy policies and peak oil within my party, the opposition and to voters in general is a little roundabout. The current government and the from my point of view fairly nutty greens have done some good things and are proposing some good things. Their failures and nuttiness do however rub off on those good ideas and it gets harder to work for those ideas. :-/

Anyway, I allways start argumentation anbout what is necessery to handle peak oil by noting that we need a flexible business climate with a lot of new companies since old jobs and companies will disappear and a lot of new things must get done.  If this flexibility is impossible we are doomed even if we have built a great rail network, lots of biofuel plants, new nuclear powerplants and other goodies to have when we get late peak oil energy scarcity.

Look around. We are not heading toward flexibility and innovativeness, anywhere, but towards rigidity. We have more EU directives, more WTO regulations, more corporate conformism than ever before. Mass media is more controlled (Gleichschaltung, that was what Goebbels called it). Dissident thinking is more suppressed, everywhere. Governments are spying their own citizens ever more.

Periods of rapid economic growth are optimistic and innovative. Even seemingly rigid societies (like China) are flexible when there is growth. Societies that do not have any real growth any more, like the OECD countries, or societies that are declining are not flexible. People want security above all. Governments fear the citizens. But even revolutions need optimism and growth.

In the present situation - and more in the future - it is a bad idea to break those rules and regulations that may bring some economic security fot the ordinary people. This will not help the economy, because the growth is over, no matter what. But the people will react by demanding more security and they will get it - and what follows might be something that many would really like to avoid.

I applaud. This was the best written comment I have seen in ages, here or elsewhere.
Every once and while I harbor doubts about Peak Oil. When these feelings surface, I start looking around a bit to see what people in the industry are saying. Today, I found this gem from from their recent issue focusing on What's Ahead for 2006?. Many ideas remain, but they require more work by Dr. D. Nathan Meehan, President, CMG Petroleum Consulting Ltd., Houston. It's good reading.
Once I believed the old apothegm, "The solution for high oil prices is high oil prices." This thinking was based on the responses to high oil prices, including conservation, demand destruction, increased exploration, and commercialization of oil and gas development projects that were marginal in a lower-priced environment....
But now Nathan's got some doubts. It seems the world has changed.
Easy pickings are gone. Field studies that my colleagues and I have completed in the last few years are yielding somewhat different results as we reevaluate mature fields. We routinely integrate 3D seismic, integrated petrophysics, fracture and fault modeling, well testing, reservoir simulation, etc., to identify ways to increase recovery and production rates in mature fields. These studies are our bread and butter, and the forecasts we used to make generally had increased oil and gas rates in our look ahead, as we recommended additional drilling, pattern realignment, expanded flooding, etc.

More and more, our forecasts show only decreased decline rates and "dragging out the tail," as increasingly detailed analyses integrate real-time monitoring, intelligent wells and other advanced technology in place in the fields. The easy pickings are long past, and almost all of what once were marginal projects have been completed. We are helping not only independents, but majors and NOCs, pursue projects with ever-climbing costs per barrel and increased risks.
Nathan mentions Matt Simmons but he's still bullish on Saudi Arabia--but
The opportunities there [Saudi Arabia] are so great, that I am decidedly optimistic about their future. This same feeling of confidence is harder to generate elsewhere.
So, any time you think you're hitting the Kool Aid too hard, kick back, take a look around and find some good reading. Then read it and weep.
In the Schlesinger article I mentioned above, he talks about how peak-oil is now becoming the consensus.

He also talks about how the 3 Trillion number is nonsense, it is just changing the goal-posts by adding in non-conventional oil. Anybody who knows anything about the projected Canadian Tar/Oil-Sands production numbers knows Alberta and Suncor are not going to change much in the way of when a peak occurs.

For me, I need to keep peak-oil on a strict conventional oil/liquids-crisis-level. Nutbags like Smil don't seem to grasp this and want to make peak-oil bigger that it is so that they have a bigger target. They want to bring in the whole history of failed predictions and an overly optimistic view of human ingenuity.

Peak oil is not about this. It's straight numbers. Peak oil is simply about reaching a point where pulling the same amout of crude out of the ground as you did yesterday becomes a progressively harder task.

Yes, peak oil is a liquid fuels crisis but the liquid fuels are a key component underlying the entire global economy. This is a kind of systems engineering problem on a key component whose failure can cause the rest of the system to fail in ways that can be hard to predict, at least in complex systems. I think that much of the uncertainty and fear about the consequences of peak oil comes from this realization that this is a systemic issue and only be changing the system overall can we get around the issue (i.e. by perhaps moving to nuclear power and electric transportation).
Another possible way to combat the "kool-aid" phenomenon is to maybe drink an entire pitcher of it.  After recently reading Kunstler's "The Long Emergency", I realized that this site is the "middle ground" on the PO debate.  After reading JHK's book and thinking "Wow, that was just plain kooky", I came back to TOD for a little reality check.

Skepticism is a good thing and seems to be alive and well on this site, which is much appreciated to someone like myself who is a frequent reader, but not a contributor to TOD.

Irwin Stelzer is a Republican economist who hasn't come out for or against peak oil.  However, he's written a very pointed article about how the oil exporting states are using energy as a weapon:

Re:  ("Defcon One" Jim Kunstler)

At the recent Simmons/Kunslter symposium in Dallas, Matt Simmons opined that if we don't start today making real, concrete changes in the way we live and in the amount of energy that we consume, "Jim Kunstler will have turned out to be an optimist."

I think this is a good point to make. The social and economic impacts of the post peak era will be the result of social and economic decisions, not geology. The geology only provides the context.
Excellent point.  This is why I keep stressing here and on my own site that we have to look at the big picture, from geology to economics to public policy to all forms of energy.

This reminds me of a conversation I had a few years ago with a very close friend and neighbor.  I had just found out that his  daughter, who was graduating from high school and who I literally watched grow up, had been born with a birth defect.  (Almost no one in the neighborhood knew this.)  I won't go into personal details, but this defect required her to have several surgeries and bear a minor, life-long burden.  To any outsider she seemed to lead a very normal, healthy, and happy life.  My friend told me that when his daughter was born, the doctor said, "She has a birth defect, but it's only a handicap if you make it one."  

In a very loose sense that's how I see our energy situation.  There are many possible paths unfolding before us, all caused by the same irrefutable set of physical limitations, and no matter what we do we won't be able to completely avoid significant, ungoing pain.  But if we're smart about it we can still greatly minimize the impacts of peak oil and NG. C045151_RTRUKOC_0_US-ENVIRONMENT-EUROPE-DROUGHT.xml&rpc=22

Drudge:  Climate fears, water shortages haunt Europe

By David Evans


PARIS (Reuters) - France and Spain are ringing alarm bells over the climate, fearing a repeat of last year's drought that sparked deadly forest fires, costly crop failures and widespread water rationing in southern Europe.

West Texas

Don't worry big business will clean up its act
say Bodman & ors

Read this

Just got round to reading Monday's Wall Street Journal. Excellent article on ethanol in Brazil on front page. Seems like Brazilians have done great work and are near to energy independence. I am only a print subscriber, maybe someone can link to the online edition.
Forgive me for repeating myself, as I have asked this at other threads referencing this article, but the story fails to include any mention of the energy inputs they use, and if the sugar cane crop practices are sustainable.
From what I have read, I believe that the sugar cane to ethanol process in Brazil is energy positive.  There are some negatives.  Food prices have gone up as land is switched from food production to fuel production, and unemployment has gone up because sugar cane apparently needs fewer workers than traditional agriculture.  

Also, sugar cane can't be grown everywhere, and the cost of labor is a big factor.  However, the key problem is going to be a conflict between using land to grow food versus using land to grow fuel--especially given what looks like a global climate change.   The time may come when we may literally cause people to starve to death by filling up a big SUV with ethanol.  

In any case, I suspect that sugar will increasingly be traded as more of a fuel commodity than a food commodity.

I know I am revealing massive ignorance on this one, but has anyone researched the EROEI of sugar beets? Or other crops grown in colder climates that might work for energy production?
Here's an item I found while looking for the same answers you are:
Please tell me if I figured this wrong.

From page 2:
1 tonne = 1000kg
Energy inputs for bioethanol from UK-grown sugar beets = 13,000 MJ/tonne = 13 MJ/kg (13,245 +-1181, so there's really only 2 significant digits)
Net energy in ethanol = 26.72 MJ/kg

EROI = about 2:1

That spreadsheet very impressive, they did some good work. Thanks alot!
Not directly, but Im going to try it on a small scale this summer - basically the technology is the same as making moonshine (not that Im an expert on that..) Here is a link for some basic info
In the case of calculating EROEI for Brazilian sugar cane, I wonder whether some sort of 'energy invested' value could be assigned to the rainforest that was cut down in order to (eventually) grow the sugar cane.
Here's a good link about Brazilian sugar cane to ethanol.
"Brazilians have done great work and are near to energy independence." Well, they have the oil, too... And natural gas and coal, and nuclear, and also a lot of hydro. Ethanol is just a small fraction of their energy production.
I don't know if this was posted before, but this site details the theft of Iraq's oil:
One way to look at PO is to take a step back and look at the big picture.

What is happening in the relation between countries and are changes coupled to PO. My answer is yes changes are developing and they are driven by PO fright.

US and China have the most need of oil imports and are therefore in the centre.

Look at how chilled relations between Bush and Putin are getting - I see them prepare for a cock fight, more or less. We have the nervousness in handling the Gazprom/Ukraina conflict. Not to mention Iraq and Iran, here EU, US, Russian, Chinese and Indian interests meet in what can become an even worse conflict. Also in the old soviets in the centre of Asia there is a increasing competition to secure all oil possible - and to secure pipelines to get the oil home. In Africa much of the competition is yet to come. The south of the Americas sees the power of oil wealth and have put some heals down in the earth. Canada starts to get a wee bit uneasy having it but knowing that the wast US population will want to consume it.

None of the above is new - but all of these hot spots/areas are getting hotter and it scares me to see the process accelerating.

If the world did not see PO coming there would be no need to secure all these consumers resources in this great hurry. My conclusion is PO is eminent and the power structures are preparing in their destructive manner.

An idea is something you have; an ideology is something that has you.
Yes, pfl - so very true - but I think you misinterpreted.

I wanted to point out that there also are other indicators besides the local gas price (crude price) that can be used to warn for upcoming PO crises. I believe that increased stress and conflicts between nations and regions competing for the resources are very clear signs that the resources are going dry.

There is no increased stress. Recent studies have shown that war is down, regardless of what you see on the news. There are far fewer conflicts and far fewer people dying as a result of regional violence than there were after World War II. These numbers continues to decline. Try proving otherwise without simply anecdotal evidence, like Iraq, or Sudan (I can hear the disagreements with this one now).
The absence of outright armed conflict and the absence of geopolitical stress are not the same thing.

In terms of the number of people dying in armed conflicts, the five-year period preceding World War I was one of the most peaceful periods of the 20th Century. Yet, during this same time period enormous stresses were building up among the major European powers that were finally released a cataclysmic war of unprecedented scale.

Sometimes the quieter things seem, the more dangerous they are.

Since this is an open thread.....Social Psychology tells us that Group Dynamics are best in groups of 20 or less. At a time when the total knowledge of the planet is doubling every 3-4 years (Ive seen several estimates on this), I am concerned about another aspect of the manageability of a crisis such as peak oil.

First of all, TOD is my favorite site - it is concise, timely, most of the participants are civil, intelligent, witty, and on topic (with a few exceptions). But there is a limit to this formats effectiveness - once the wolf is at the door so to speak, will any of us have time to scroll threads of 500 posts, with new posts coming in before we're done reading the originals? Is there then, an upper limit to the TODIIoTODII (TheOilDrum Information Internalized over TheOilDrum Information Ingested)?

We are in the bottom of the 3rd inning of public awareness on Peak Oil- both the first and second derivatives of momentum are still positive and in our favor,(read: things havent gotten too bad yet, and everyone is still civil and openminded and eager and willing to change and adapt).

My fear is that information is so readily available and increasing so rapidly that even those of us that have grown 'new meat' as [Jay Hanson] would say, and can assimilate numerous disciplines and sundry information on a daily basis will be overwhelmed by the choices of how/where/what information we consume. Case in point - its all I can do to keep up with  CERA/ Staniford/ IEA / Skrebowski Koppelaar on supply forecasts for the next few years- and this I feel is important but certainly not MOST important. And those of us that have families - how much time to spend on daily family activity vs learning/aggregating information peak oil action. Yes, we are limited by oil, but I think Peak Time might be inversely related to Peak Knowledge (and Peak Oil is will be very correlated with Peak Knowledge)

I can only imagine 2 years from now - when there is more evidence of global warming, more species decline, more talk about peak oil and decline rates, more water shortages, more people, more spam, more websites about peak oil, more requests for speaking, more natural gas stocks I want to invest in, more 'must read' books, more single women...our minds are really not adapted to handle being specialists and generalists and succeeding at both at these sorts of input levels- my fear is that the most qualified people in academia/politics/business will gradually mentally tune out due to the synthesis requirements necessary to walk in all these camps -and then we are not left with the best minds-

To make an apposite analogy - my mind is discovering new 'wells' of information every day, and this new production is outpacing my 'knowledge depeletion' (influenced by lack of use, beer, and cognitive load). Could it be that coffee, hope, novelty and camaraderie are borrowing from the second half of my mental hubbert curve?

Does anyone share this concern? Or are we internally biased to assume each of our knowledge and ability to assimilate follows the slope of an IEA oil projection...?

Good Post!

 I too find myself overwhelmed with things to read and think about. So I take time out and do nothing just sit and stare into a dark room letting my mind wander.  At times I get rested while at other times I spark on something and go along that thread of thought till that overwhelming feeling hits again.

 When I look back on 2005, I can't believe what all happened to me only took one 365 day year to transpire!  It seems like it was several years all rolled into one.  I can just imagine what this next year will do to me, it's already started out with a bang, I spent the first 6 days of it in the Hospital with a massive life threatening blood clot in my lungs.  NOT mention all the things that went on in the world in general,  We get those neat little packages called history books that put everything into a few pages for 2005, but it was really a full year.

 What is going to happen in the next 2 to 5 years, will it be just a foot note in a history book, or will it totally change how we see the limited future??


You raise an interesting point regarding our ability to assimilate.  On the other hand, that ability is being tested as never before.  

My position--and it may be too broad to allow any fruitful discussion--is that we are on a collision course with the environment at exactly the wrong moment in history.  The economic model at hand is the wrong one.

Two dangerous strands are converging: Global Warming and the economic model embodied by the IMF and the United States.  Despite what Americans think about their place in history, this century will not be their show.

Running parallel to these strands are two other forces: IT and the incredible explosion of knowledge in almost every area of learning.  From academic disciplines, to corporations, to countries, vast amounts of information are being collected and assimilated with increasingly astonishing ease.  A director of IT at a huge multinational, a friend of mine, describes to me how terabytes of data are being collected and processed...more and more this process is being automated.  What is true of this corporation is true of physics, of biology, of climatology; in short, of everything man touches.  IT feeds the explosion and processing of is driving this incredible renaissance in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Whether one set of forces will contain the other is a very big question for me.  We are in a race.  The next ten or twenty years will tell the story.  

A while back, Stuart described the possible uses of Google Earth.  IT is now allowing us to visualize massive amounts of data as never before, to see with our own eyes processes that are difficult to understand without a visual aid.  I am more hopeful than you.  The means are arriving in the nick of time...I hope.

I think it is important to make a clear distinction between 'information' and 'knowledge'.

Information is the gazillions of bytes zapping back and forth over the internet, and information is the rows and rows of  file boxes stacked floor to ceiling in archives stretching as far as the eye can.

However, knowledge is the miniscule fraction of the above that actually seeps into one's cranium and stays there, presumable to be operated upon at some future date.  

We have orders of magnitude more information than we used to, but I am less certain as to how much more knowledge we have. Semantical nit-picking?  Perhaps, but I think the point must be made.

Especially if the information is measured as data on hard drives, etc.  With excess bandwidth and hard drive storage, we all just keep everything - there is no cost to doing so.  But think how much of the stuff you've saved on your hard drive is of value, and how much is crap?  Most of it doesn't even rise to the level of information, it's just overhead.  
I've found that never need anything until just after I've gotten rid of it.  Hence I keep as much as I can just in case.
I think we are all driven to assimilate knowledge as part of our survival instincts, and today with peak oil we are not just taking others "word".The basic issues; finite resources, clash with  growth economics,global warming, pollution, etc. does not require specialization. They are as much as anything  a change in our assumptions about the world. I think we can usually apply what we understand from one field to another, and underestimate our ability to do so. For me the climate of my fear re peak adds to my drive to gain this knowledge , and I agree there is an exploding of such, but I don't think it is    as much needed as I often feel.  
As the Forecasters over at the NHC website have said they hope the END of the 2005 Hurricane season is FINALLY here.  But reading their forecasts for Tropical Storm Zeta was very enlightening, you could tell how baffled they were about all these storms and how 2005 passed so many records.  27 named storms, 14 of them making hurricane status, I am not even sure how many records got broken, but Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Elipson, and Zeta broke some of them.

And Look it is 2006 now and I am just waiting on the edge of my seat for the next great year in storms, ahh isn't it great to live in interesting times.

 Its also good to be out of the hospital, so maybe I am just happy about a lot of things right now.

I recalibrate every once in a while :

Google : peak oil hoax (result : abiotic oil, gas hydrates, coal, stone age didn't end because of lack of stone etc)

I am at the point where i think Peak Oil is no longer a theory/hypothesis, but an accurate model that describes everything from Amaricain foreign politics to the production collaps in the UK and Norway.

At 17 mpg the tax would only be $2,600 but at 10 mpg it would be $7,700 per vehicle.
James Hamilton's argument:

"let's say your story is that we'll be at the point we just analyzed in n years rather than 2 years. The point I wish to make is that you shouldn't expect that the oil price will stay stuck at $60 a barrel for n - 2 years, with everybody cluelessly wasting oil and ignoring the need for alternative investments along the way, and then all of a sudden jump up to $180 in year n - 2, for exactly the reasons we just discussed. Somebody would be missing a huge profit opportunity in the price jump from $60 in n - 3 years to $180 in n - 2 years. What economists would therefore expect to see under the n-year scenario would be for the oil price to rise steadily over all these n years, gradually producing greater and greater incentives for the needed conservation and the needed development of alternatives between now and year n."

Can you not apply this argument backwards? In other words, could you not apply this argument to the increase observed over the last few years, and from that deduce what the expected increase in price will be? (I don't know if this will result in an answer different from simply extrapolating the trend)

It just struck me as I read it that this is a very good description of exactly what the market was doing at the moment.

Yes - that's exactly what I believe is happening.
Here's some more news on the gas situation in the UK:,,9072-1974606_1,00.html

There's a concern (page 2 of the article linked to) that the supply adequacy could hinge on the gas interconnector working at capacity, but last winter the gas pressure fell to almost zero during a cold snap as the continental countries weren't passing the gas on to the UK. With supply much tighter there this year, and continental countries worried about their supplies from Russia, a cold snap in the UK could be very uncomfortable.

This long thread eludes
For a skeptic has put it through
The eye of a needle
Has sewn his clothes
And yet, has come out nude...

What's to doubt?
Oil runs out.....

I have been a peakoiler for a couple of months now. I remember the first few days were really bad. Week for week however I have gradually psychologically adjusted to it all. It is a paradigm shift personally. I used to believe in basic business/economic tenets of growth and technology although my  view of science had dwindled long before with my adoption of esoteric/new age  religious viewpoints. The problem with a complete paradigm shift is to take everything you knew before and to reread it in a different light(every history book or novel or belief or occurrence or theory or relationship). It is like when people write a critique of Shakespeare or something based on feminist lesbian radicalism from the 60s. I have to do this new Peak oil rewriting or rewiring for every part of my life, tearing it all down and building it all back up bit for bit until the foundation is again stable. Since I have a habit of absorbing new paradigms occasionally this is not completely unknown to me and even sometimes a relief to the old drudge of life.  
Thanks for the positive spin, galactic.  You are doing better with it than I am, though I too have been through a couple of earlier paradigm shifts.  I would like to see a thread on dealing with the emotional/spiritual ramifications of peak oil, if there hasn't been one already.  
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They have a peak oil forum at with a section on dealing with psychological aspects which I found after writing my last comment above. For example the thread on "Age 26 or older. What were you thinking?" where people say when they found out about peakoil and how they had managed to not know about it beforehand, etc. would havbe been more appropriate for my comments above. Link below: