September 09, 2016

Peak Oil

When's the last time you heard someone use the term "Peak Oil" without it being mocking or ironic?

Someone has just found a new oilfield in Texas which wasn't known previously. Seems it's also rich in natural gas.

Oil is so plentiful now that its market price has crashed. OPEC can no longer maintain discipline among its ranks and all the big producers are pumping for all they're worth because they need the money.

It is to laugh.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 12:01 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 80 words, total size 1 kb.

1 The best part is that the speculators have essentially abandoned the market. There's simply no point in it anymore; any restriction in the supply of oil might cause a temporary spike, but there's enough reserve capacity through oil shale that there's simply no chance of a return to $100-a-barrel in the next decade. And even better, there's a TON of available shale oil in areas that haven't been examined; it's not like Texas and North Dakota are the only places with shale.

The schadenfreude is almost as thick as the steaks around here... ;p

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at September 09, 2016 04:22 PM (/lg1c)


there's a TON of available shale oil in areas that haven't been examined; it's not like Texas and North Dakota are the only places with shale

That is assuming recovery/production using technology that is available right now, on the places we have good data on.  There are many shale formations (As well as regular deposits.) available across the US and the world and the seas, which might be counted as part of the risked, technically recoverable resources (The term of art that professionals, not 'peak oil/gas' believers, fracking opponents, Malthusians/Erlichians, or environmentalists, use.) but there are not enough data to include them.

As technology advances and improves, the amount of risked resources in-place that can become technically recoverable will rise.  The Bakken formation is a classic example - the technology 30 years ago would not have sufficed to produce from it.

We also have places whose natural conditions could allow a lot of oil and natural gas to be produced right now, but can not be exploited fully or at all.  No one will want to drill in Argentina unless they get a very large risk premium, even though Argentina arguably has the best natural conditions for producing shale gas and oil of any place outside North America.

And we can also slay the 'mine/drill it 'til its' gone!' cliché, a staple of dystopian writing, either science fiction or advocacy propaganda.  It is like the people who believe that a resource will be mined until it is completely gone have never actually listen to a lesson on cost/benefit...

Posted by: cxt217 at September 09, 2016 07:33 PM (WdD2d)

3 And if it becomes a problem, we can just mine Mars for oil.  haha
Crude oil is a purely inorganic process and that's actually been known for a long while.  What they don't really know is the details, which is probably what bothers the geophysicists the most.  (We keep finding it too deep and in the wrong places for the Dinosaur Bones theory to hold any weight.)
And if it becomes an issue of supply, there's a whole lot of oil that's available that just isn't cheap to get.  And if that becomes an issue, well, we'll have 100+ years before we get there.  Either we'll have found some new technology or modern economies won't exist.  (And that doesn't even cover possible alternatives for Oil usage in a lot of products.)

Posted by: sqa at September 12, 2016 08:09 PM (6D/Mj)


Photosynthesis selectively chooses C12 over C13. As a result, organic carbon has a lower percentage of C13 than inorganic carbon. (C13, of course, is stable.)

Oil has the same isotope ratio as organic carbon.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 12, 2016 08:33 PM (+rSRq)

5 The oil is certainly of organic origin. There's some evidence, I believe, that some of it, and some of the natural gas, is produced by the deep biosphere; Bacteria living in the pores of rocks. 
Mars could easily have petroleum deposits, if it had life at one point. In fact, if it had life at some point, it probably still does deep underground.
But Martian petroleum wouldn't be useful as a fuel; No oxygen to burn it with.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at September 13, 2016 02:00 AM (l55xw)

6 The only restriction on getting that new shale field online is profitability.  With every member of OPEC racing to the bottom and pumping as much as possible, the field can remain fallow for now.  Mind you, two of the biggest oil producer are now seeing significant decline in their production: Venezuela and North Sea.  Venezuela is mainly for political reason (Chavez fired all of the politically unreliable element of the state oil company, which is pretty much the entire production member, and their habit of nationalizing everything means no outside entity want to deal with them.  So no new rig and parts).  North Sea is simply going to run dry sooner than they expected.  Never fear, we here in United States are ready to pick up the slacks. 

Posted by: BigFire at September 13, 2016 12:15 PM (O7l6D)

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