Thursday, March 15, 2012

Questioning the Peak Oil Dogma

We are being told once again to expect ever-higher fuel and energy prices in the coming years, with a consequent drag on economies. Underlying these gloomy predictions is an underlying belief that humans are running short on sources of energy -- the peak oil dogma -- and will have to pay more as shortages worsen. But is the peak oil dogma based upon superstition, or fact?
Myth of Scarcity

Unless humans look for energy, they are unlikely to find it. But if they are willing to use their brains and their eyes, they can detect ever more geologic locations where a wide variety of hydrocarbon fuels were formed.
It is said that the cheap and easy oil is all gone, and that the low hanging fruit has been picked. But the "cheap and easy oil" was not that cheap and easy when it was first tapped. Technology had to be developed for each type of deposit to be exploited. This will continue to be the case.
This is an IEA estimate of hydrocarbon resource. It is very likely to be a vast unerestimate, as is typically the case.
Here is another scholarly estimate of world hydrocarbon resources, also likely to have significantly underestimated the true resource.
Here is another estimate, which clearly fails to account for the economic impact of cheap and abundant nuclear process heat from high temperature gas-cooled reactors, in the processing of gas to liquids, coal to liquids, kerogens to liquids, etc.
This graphic includes an estimate of comparison between relative carbon resources of gas hydrates and all other hydrocarbons.
This graphic compares relative gas hydrate resources in various locations.
This graphic looks at recoverable fossil fuel resources by nation. It underestimates a number of probable resources across the board, including shale oil & gas and several others.

When humans are confronted with resource shortages, they take a number of parallel approaches to relieving the resource scarcity.

But when shortages are caused by political or ideological perversity, there may be much less that humans can do, until the political or ideological constrictions are removed. That appears to be the situation associated with the multiple political dogmas of peak oil, carbon hysteria, overpopulation, and various other faux environmental political dogmas.

In the modern world, Russia, China, India, and a number of third world and emerging states stand out as distinct outliers from the global faux environmental rush to energy suicide. It is unlikely that Europe, Oceania, and North America will be willing to take the final faux environmental step of cutting their own throats (figuratively speaking), when such a large part of the world stands ready to loot their corpses in a very un-PC, un-green manner.

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