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Oil: Doom, Doom, Doom.....Plenty.....Doom?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by woodgeek, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    AGW is a problem, but folks that are only driving their recycling to the station and buying some veggies at a farmers market are not going to solve it.

    Re your observation on human nature, I def see your point, but on a good day I think that over time (a decade, a generation?) such as system would not prevail. If AGW models are correct, then CO2 pollution induced drought might cause us to try your thought experiment.

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  2. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    For sure WG.

    I just think our backs will need to be against the proverbial wall before we move in any way but sideways. Then there is the whole headed toward 9 billion & everyone wanting a north american middle class lifestyle or better thing to deal with, Asia wont be satisfied to be the poor cousin forever.

    Just dont know how we can sustain this, seems that no matter how much we pump the is a demand for more to be pumped & we are nowhere close to being a global leader in production/known reserves.

    Whole thing is just mind boggling at times. Scale & scope just cant be sustained IMO. Need a heck of a leap in tech to get us out of this ditch we dug ourselves into. Before we run face first into the wall hopefully.
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Number three in proven reserves my friend.
  4. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Yes but a very long time to get it out of the ground using current tech of course, just cant see how we can keep up.

    Really thick goo. Esp. pre distilate. Of course if Exxon decides to move on it in a big way that's a game changer right there for sure. Right now they have a surprisingly small presence. That of course could change.
  5. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    The folks I have met from Exxon over the years have clearly been drooling over Athabasca since the 70s. But they like a profit...prob they are just waiting for the right time.
  6. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Why hasn't a govt or big energy company "claimed" the sun as its property, as 100% of all fossil fuel energy had a solar origin, and all of other light and daily warmth, energy, food, and probably everything else comes from the sun, and then license use of the sun? That's where the real exploitation capitalists can make the big money as the rest of us live in squalor. Why argue over the pennies earned from oil when real money comes from the sun?
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Lots of people working on the meter.
  8. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    Personally I think we've been at peak oil since about 2008 or so - that's when the oil price stopped dropping when supply increased. Net result? Things made from oil are a bit more expensive and people are paying more attention to energy efficiency. No doom and gloom, but then things are rarely as bad as they are cracked up to be...
    jharkin and woodgeek like this.
  9. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Its like a roller coaster,price goes up world economy slows ,makes price go down,price goes down,economy picks up .price goes back up. Over and over.
    jharkin likes this.
  10. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    Yes, extraction prices are high for sure. One good thing, the days of the open pit method are coming to an end thanks to new tech. They can get flow by drilling a hole & putting in a downhole pump (essentially a very long corkscrew). Drill enough small holes & viola production approaching an open pit operation with far less input & hopefully a far smaller footprint on the environment. Time will tell.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We're not out of oil yet, but the extraction fees are getting much higher and the process harder and riskier. This is what Brazil is up against now. Sooner or later we need to face the music and kick the habit. Save the oil for higher value products and lubrication.
    jharkin likes this.
  12. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    No disagreement from me BG, I just think our backs will need to be against the proverbial wall before we move in any sustantive way. Just the way we are in north america. Too bad we could have chosen to follow some of the Euro's & tax our oil/fuel to discourage unnecessary consumption while at the same pursuing alternatives. As long as it is relatively cheap little incentive to change. Being real late on the later part could really suck.
  13. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Cannot just kick the habit with 7 billion people to feed. And running out of oil/FF is not the issue, its peaking at the production mid-point, at which point we cannot expand production any more. Once oil becomes spendy, as it is doing now, we go into decline. All civilizations past and present are based on expansion. When they peak, that's pretty much it. Party over. Look around the world and it is rather obvious that things are not so grand. People are starving or killing each other off in droves. We are insulated from the effects here in the land of the have, but our capital markets are coming under great pressure. In North America we are cranking out more fuel, burning and exporting it, but at what cost? Chinese pollution is so bad its... well, its unfathomable. Freak storms and extremes in weather are becoming commonplace.

    For those that think we can go on forever, simply look at the decline of the Roman and Greek empires. Oil, coal and NG are just a few of many limiting factors. Boron, phosphates, seafood, fresh water, fissile material, arable land, rare earth elements and a lot of other critical resources are all finite. Never mind 'standard' types of pollution, we have released so much carbon and entropy (unusable heat energy) into the atmosphere that we have started a polar melt cycle and likely prolonged the current interglacial period for at least 10,000 years. The entropy is showing up as greater extremes in weather. Say or believe what you want about global warming, it is here and we have basically burned our way into extinction, or in the least, an end to modern civilization. It may not come today, or in 10 years, or even 50 years. That is of course, if we can somehow prevent ourselves from killing ourselves off in a global thermal nuclear war. Its only a matter of time before more rogue states and extremists gain access to the big bombs.

    We are but so much bacteria in a petri dish. We will reproduce until we cannot reproduce any more and then go into decline. Conservation? Forget it. Evolve? Too slow a process. Reach for the stars? We do not have anywhere near the energy needed for that. We are trapped and it is too late to really do anything about anything. This thing will run its course. Maybe... just maybe we decline and survive as a species, only to expand and bounce off of some limit again, and decline again. There is simply no way to expand forever, as much as we would want to think that we can. We cannot sustain ourselves at some leveling off point either. We either expand, or we contract. And in the end? Himalayan erosion will sequester the increased carbon from the atmosphere, and in 15-30,000 years the ice will expand again and the Earth will go into another glacier cycle.
  14. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Like i said before Shale gas will buy us another 10 perhaps 20 years of energy,and this time were not importing it.
  15. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    While individual fields with a fixed technology show a nice bell curve of production, the same cannot be said for global production. If there are a bunch of large, but currently uneconomic resources, then as soon as the price rises, after a brief shock/spike, the prices fall back to the cost of the new (previously unprofitable) resources. There have been several rounds of 'peak oil', since as early as the 19th century, and each time the price spiked, folks figured out how to tap some new reserves, and in most cases after a little learning, figure out how to extract them cheaper than previously imagined. And then those 'unconventional' reserves became 'conventional' a generation later. Oil and hydrocarbons are def finite, and well in excess to that required to destroy the biosphere (and us) with AGW. But production only peaks and declines at a fixed price. As the price creeps up, and a replacement non-FF source becomes more economic, then oil usage will decline.

    Yeah, we rely on fossil phosphate and fossil water. Fissile material is surprisingly scant as currently used. We are not making new soil. Agriculture is a very fragile and resource intensive activity, and not very sustainable in its current form. Personally, I think we will start making food by non-agricultural means. Solves a lot of sustainablility issues around land water and phosphate use, climate adaptation, etc. Entropy? Haven't heard that one.

    I am a bit of a fan of the 'Limits to Growth' folks. They pose all this as a mathematical problem. And they still manage to find solutions that have an ok outcome. When they throw in the towel, I might start to worry.
  16. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    We also have 100+ years of coal in the west slope of the Rockies, and NG is popping up all over the place with fracking, and there is the Bakken Formation oil reserves in the Dakotas. North America has become the Saudi Arabia of coal, NG and oil. But these are all finite resources. We should be using them for high value utilization and not burn it all up in Winnebagos and Nascar races. We will just squander these new reserves though, like we did oil in TX and PA and coal in WV. Its not just about energy though. The human population continues to expand and other finite resources will reach their limits. We cannot just conjure up more phosphorous and boron.
  17. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Boron?
  18. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Yes, boron. With a b.
  19. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Only long term solution is population stabilization. Dont see that happening soon. Not when our Govt is right now planning to annex/amnestize 20 million illegal foreign nationals to solve the boomer imbalance.
  20. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Help me out. What critical applications to modern society does boron have?
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Hadn't heard that. I thought the boomer's kids (milennials) were taking care of that. God knows there's not enough X-ers to amount to a hill of beans worth of economic activity. ;em
  22. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    More info? Sounds like it could move peanut butter. Subsidence?
  23. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    While one could view that there is a seemingly endless supply of oil in regard to the timescale of our lifetimes, the problem is that something like 90% of the oil supply on the earth is not attainable for extraction. Most of it is too deep or too difficult to extract and use. At some point the costs become to high to get and use it. Also populations and demands are expanding faster than supply. I still believe that even with the newer US supplies, we are at or just past peak oil. That being the point at which we can pump, refine and supply oil at the current global demand. If we were not there yet, the cost of oil would not be as high as it is now. If as you want to define this point using economics, oil is now pretty much permanently increasing in price, not declining. NG is the opposite, and likely the only thing that is keeping us from collapsing now. And there is no real energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuel; something like a mere 5% of current energy supply is non-fossil fuel. We cannot sustain the current population of 7 billion plus people w/o it.

    GW is another aspect that we have yet to fully determine or appreciate, but it is biting us hard and fast lately. The FF companies have done a great job at convincing the population that human caused global warming is a myth, but it is in fact true and the poles are in fact melting as global temperatures rise. We have to deal with the consequences of dumping massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and trapping more heat in it. And speaking of heat and entropy... entropy is a scientific term used in energy conversion. The laws of thermodynamics state that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy and matter can only be converted from one form to another. What we call 'energy' is really just the converting of potential energy into work and heat, at which point it become unusable. But just because the energy cannot be used does not means that it has gone away. Overly simplified, that remaining residual unusable energy is called entropy. It goes out the exhaust of your car and warms up the atmosphere, and up the flue from the wood stoves and is radiated out of our houses. At some point it radiates out to space, but in the meantime it is trapped and adds to the CO2 effect of trapped energy in the atmosphere.
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  24. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    And may the circle be unbroken... or some such. Limits to Growth was written by the Club of Rome back when it had more integrity. They have also written several follow on books, but the original premises of growth in the first book are all coming out pretty much as predicted. I was once a member of the Club of Rome (I am a degreed electrical engineer), and at one time we did in fact throw in the towel. The club drifted. Now it has been picked up by some synthetically positive types and they are claiming that all of these problems can be solved. Most of us have long since given up. There was a secret convention by the world's richest and most powerful people a few year ago and they came to the conclusion that global population was the main problem facing humans in the future, and that there was nothing that anyone can effectively do about it.

    Jeremy Grantham was interviewed by Charlie Rose just a few weeks back and he spelled it all out rather well. He stated rather well that no one wants to hear the bad news about the bad future regarding humans and the way things are going. He also pointed out that the current population is unsustainable. He figures it has to fall to 4 billion. I figure it is more like 2 billion. That being the amount of people that can be sustained without fossil fuel. He also points out that many resources are limited, phosphate in his view is the most critical. All of these limits can be seen on a site called www.dieoff.com. I know the guy that created that site (Jay Hanson) and I have been discussing these issues with him on Energyresources on Yahoo and on several other forums for well over a decade now. I found dieoff after doing several years of research on fissile material reserves. I had figured out that without oil we cannot support this civilization as it is now (or was then) and I was aware of Hubbert's theories on peak oil. However what I stumbled into was that peak nuclear energy is just a few decades coming after peak oil.

    As for peak oil, I believe we are already past that peak at the top of the bell curve. Oil is still going up in price, and production is not meeting demand. While I do not believe that we have reached resource limits, it is being limited by production and delivery capacity, as well as wars and embargos, limits in refining capacity, and market manipulation, etc. Call it what you want, we are there now. If the price goes up more, more may come on line, but fewer will be able to afford and use it. So at this point we go into decline. We cannot stop the process. But energy is only one limit. We are also limited to phosphate availability, no matter how we grow food. All life forms on earth need phosphate to grow. They also need nitrogen and that requires energy to produce. Potassium is also a limiting factor, but most soils are abundant in potassium. Phosphate is the most limiting and critical factor in fertilizer and global food production.
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  25. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Didn't realize there was a schism in the club of rome. Read LTG (as a kid) in 1983. Fascinating.

    I read all that dieoff stuff back in 2005. Haven't seen a good answer for phosphate. My own amateur opinion is that all terrestrial phosphate seems to come from the sea.....plankton must be getting their phosphate from the sea itself. Us apes are just mining guano and fossil phosphate originally captured from the sea.

    But as for oil, my counter hypothesis is that the current situation is a price/supply 'shock', and that it will be resolved the way the earlier ones have....with new tech tapping new reserves at a higher price. Those shocks all ended with the prices slowly falling again as the new tech matured and developed. I can't say that will happen here....my OP was just that the 'dieoff' has not happened yet, does not appear likely to occur in the near future, and the folks predicting the imminent doom of civilization back in 2005 now look pretty silly.

    So, some questions, which I mean in a respectful way....not that that is clear in pixels.

    1) Civil aviation becomes costly enough to be restrictive IMO ~$400/barrel, and almost hopeless around $1000. How many years do we have left in your opinion before we hit a $400 price? How about $1000?

    2) Coal to liquids (CTL, Fischer-Tropsch) seems according to most authorities to cost <$200/barrel equivalent, or (if you amortize the equipment fully) not too much more expensive than the current price. Why wouldn't folks implement CTL when the prices hit $200? Would $200 mean the collapse of civilization?

    3) In a post-collapse society, after the die-off, the survivors would still have access to pre-1850 technology and biomass energy density, at least in a restricted area of the AGW world that still supports biomass production. Will any post-1850 technology still be in use? Insulation? Vaccines? Antibiotics? PV? Electricity?

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