Oil & Gas Technology Blog

Oil & Gas Technology

The Oil & Gas Technology Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about Drilling, Refining, Exploration, and Distribution. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Previous in Blog: Corrosive Publicity   Next in Blog: Nuclear Fallout
Close
Close
Close
12 comments

The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

Posted March 28, 2011 8:31 AM by Steve Melito

In the book Bad Money (2008), best-selling author Kevin Phillips argued that peak oil will be "a potential pivot point of the 2010s". As the power of the so-called Seven Sisters of the 1960s wanes, Western oil companies are steadily losing ground (and underground mineral rights) to a new sorority of state-run firms. These entities include Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), PetroChina, the National Iranian Oil Company, Petrobras (Brazil), Petronas (Malaysia), and Petroleos de Venezuela.

Four years ago, state-owned oil companies controlled 75% of the world's estimated petroleum reserves. Many industry observers (Phillips included) worry that these estimates are overly optimistic, especially in Saudi Arabia. If their fears are founded, then Western oil companies may have an even smaller slice of the petroleum pie to nibble at. There's offshore drilling, of course, but consider the cost and consequences of the still-recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

For a political and economic commentator such as Kevin Phillips, America faces an "energy predicament" that ranges from "currency vulnerabilities" to the absence of "a serious national energy strategy." For an engineering community such as CR4, however, the considerations are more scientific and technical. From that perspective, are we kidding ourselves by believing that biofuels can eliminate the perils of partial peak oil?

Source: Bad Money, pp. 120-123

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
6
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#1

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/28/2011 9:04 AM

The real issue is one of control. All governing agencies want control over natural resources and energy in particular because it is a fundamental means by which to maintain and project power (both internally and externally).

Even if someone manages to tap the fabled zero point energy in unlimited amounts, governments will swiftly move to control and regulate it.

The tendency is to couch the problem as one of abundance or lack thereof, but the real barriers are mostly artificial or manmade as a means for geopolitical control. You will see this from both centralized governments as well as various internal groups and lobbyists. Not all of these entities have the same goals and they may be in direct conflict of each other, which makes the whole dynamics much more complex than it is portrayed in the news.

In the end, no matter what technological advances are made to break down the barriers to energy independence, new barriers will be erected to try to maintain the status quo. This means, while scientists and engineers are working to pull on the rope one way, legislators, foreign entities, and special interest groups are covertly pulling in the opposite direction and with a sizable advantage.

Reply Good Answer (Score 6)
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Petroleum Engineering - Rig Electrician United States - Member - the Oil Patch Engineering Fields - Power Engineering - Drives & Gen's Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - Drive Control Popular Science - Cosmology -

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Houston off/on-shore @ Oil Patch
Posts: 225
Good Answers: 2
#2
In reply to #1

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/28/2011 6:15 PM

Well I was going to start on the non organic originals of hydrocarbons theories to end up that oil is not a non renewable resource BUT as usual you hit the "real" problem: GA.

__________________
Why do they make manhole covers round? so they won't fall in [before asking "Who is John Galt?"]
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Western Canada
Posts: 1863
Good Answers: 39
#3
In reply to #2

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/28/2011 10:57 PM

So what happens when the abiotic oil producers end up with more resources and begin under cutting the traditional dinosaur fuel proponents. Isn't that going to shift the geopolitical power base somewhat?

__________________
Elnav
Reply Off Topic (Score 4)
Guru

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Wolfe Island, ON
Posts: 1358
Good Answers: 109
#4
In reply to #1

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/28/2011 10:59 PM

GA Anonymous Hero. Peak oil could be argued as a bogus claim if one subscribes to the Russian-Ukrainian origins of oil. However, it really doesn't matter as you have stated, the agents of control will find some way to create rules that assure power.

For those who subscribe to the peak oil theory explore some of the articles presented on the site I have marked. I would guess it is a good topic that could cover a whole field of discussions including AGW vs Natural Occurring Green House Warming.

__________________
If they want holy water, tell them to boil the hell out of it.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Member

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 9
#5
In reply to #1

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/29/2011 4:36 AM

perhaps the developement of point-of-use energy technology would defang these economic/ political giants. I keep wondering when someone will come up with a means of tapping the electrical potential of the earth ( or of the suns electromagnetic offerings), with an easy to use collection system.

Reply
2
Member

Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 9
Good Answers: 2
#8
In reply to #1

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/29/2011 7:07 PM

In response to various posters:

Although political issues and gov't control of resources are very real, they do not change the thermodynamic, engineering, and economic realities of the situation. Oil as we know it is peaking - period. Introducing something like oil shales or even coal into the conversation as if they were equivalent is naive.

Processing these into liquid fuels is not the equivalent of refining heavy, sour crude. Both require large amounts of energy and other costly inputs. In fact, coal will become an economically viable source of liquid fuels before oil shales, which may never produce enough net energy to be worthwhile. There is a reason why nukes have been proposed to power the extraction processes for tar sands and oil shales - Burning fuels to do so is a game of diminishing returns.

Wind, solar, etc. are great as long as they are economically viable. There is a tendency for people to look at technical feasibility and ignore cost. Ask a few engineers what unit of measure they use most. If they are honest, they'll say $'s. Those who demand quickly adopting renewables for the majority of our needs should present their business case in the next breath. Otherwise, their input is meaningless.

To bring more than questions or disinformation to these topics, one must either follow the related news closely and have the horse sense to sift through the chaff or be versed in thermodynamics, engineering, and economics. Both combos are vanishingly rare - including in the halls of power.

Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Power-User

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Orinda, CA
Posts: 251
Good Answers: 14
#9
In reply to #8

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/29/2011 7:50 PM

I agree that burning fossil fuels for extraction is not wise, but the fact that this laughable technology happens to be the state of the art shows there is an opportunity for new technology to make a big difference. I think using curtailed wind and spinning reserve for visbreaking and pyrolysis, and gasification for producing H2 by the water-shift reaction, might be a promising area to investigate.

__________________
"Education is lighting a fire, not filling a bottle." -- Plutarch
Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Wolfe Island, ON
Posts: 1358
Good Answers: 109
#10
In reply to #8

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/29/2011 8:53 PM

There remain a strong growing group of scientists that refute the premise that oil is fossil in origin. Some may well be, but I think it is a minor component of the total hydrocarbons found. Thomas Gold had "plagarized" (according to the Russians) their scientific papers to write a book; "The Deep Hot Biosphere: The myth of Fossil Fuels", in which he describes the abiotic origins of hydrocarbons. He does a good job of explaining the theory and is worth the read. Evidence is mounting to support the abiotic origins of oil. A good paper to read and can be found in my first post describes such origins and the genesis of oil and coals is by JF Kenny. Click on the first paper found under economic publications in that site. The following is an abstract:

ABSTRACT: For almost a century, various predictions have been made that the human race is imminently going to run out of available petroleum. The passing of time has proven all those predictions to have been utterly wrong. It is pointed out here how all such predictions have depended fundamentally upon an archaic hypothesis from the 18th century that petroleum somehow (miraculously) evolves from biological detritus, and is accordingly limited in abundance. That hypothesis has been replaced during the past forty years by the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins which has established that petroleum is a primordial material erupted from great depth. Therefore, petroleum abundances are limited by little more than the quantities of its constituents as were incorporated into the Earth at the time of its formation; and its availability depends upon technological development and exploration competence.

__________________
If they want holy water, tell them to boil the hell out of it.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Commentator

Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 80
#12
In reply to #8

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

07/24/2011 2:35 AM

Of course, cracking-coal would be "expensive", but that's the IDEA! Good paying jobs for USA citizens, and no more dollars for overseas Potentates, who then send us Islamic Mosques and periodic Terror. You quickly rebuild the "rust-belt" with custom steel manufacturers, and it IS true, a cracking-plant for coal will take 10 times the steel of a regular refinery! That's the IDEA! Fiat-money "works" when its spent WITHIN the country. Cost was NOT an object, when the Luftwaffe needed hi-test(premium) fuels for its bombers to increase speed/height/range/bomb-payload, and indeed, without the 1927 Standard Oil of New Jersey patents that were GIVEN to Hitler's governmental predecessor, the Weimar Republic, I argue that there would NOT have BEEN a WWII(-Syn-fuels production was over 50,000gals/month from 1939 until VE-day). Those patents are PROOF that those who speak of "Peak Oil"/"fossil fuels" don't know what they're talking about, or they are alarmists. But our plain oil reserves, --NOT including shale, are greater than Iraq's and Iran's combined,--we just have to make it "politic" to drill, drill, drill, and mine, mine, mine, and when we do so, tens of thousands will be employed, employed, employed (--and they'll pay TAXES making us solvent, solvent, solvent). What say you Gentlemen, spend money for our OWN gas/oil, or continue to be bled by a Cartel that will USE our Contrived-dependency to conquer us? 'Sorry if "off-topic" in places, but this is complex, but fixable.

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Orinda, CA
Posts: 251
Good Answers: 14
#6

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/29/2011 9:52 AM

There is still lots of heavy crude, oil sands, and coal for making transportation fuels. Cracking CO2 and water in syntrolysis using curtailed wind energy (which I recently read was 25 TWh in 2010 and might reach 40 TWh in 2011) could produce syngas for F-T synthesis into transportation fuels.

Biofuels require lots of fresh water, so since fresh water is becoming scarce, biofuels will probably remain insignificant.

Light sweet crude might be running out, but it is only technological stagnation for the last 30 years in the refining industry that makes "peak oil" a matter of concern. Finding a way to make vehicle fuel from coal and unconventional oil looks like the way to avoid the consequences of "peak oil."

__________________
"Education is lighting a fire, not filling a bottle." -- Plutarch
Reply
Power-User
Australia - Member - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 136
Good Answers: 2
#7
In reply to #6

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

03/29/2011 6:29 PM

Finding a way to make vehicle fuel from coal and unconventional oil looks like the way..

Just google 'SASOL', which will give you a start to coal gasification and liquefaction. The Germans were doing that - making vehicle fuel from coal - during WW2. Even South Africa was using that technology in apartheid days. It is a 'dirty' process, but there are newer and cleaner forms of conversion. Others may be interested to know, that town gas was made by this process prior to the widespread introduction of natural gas to homes and businesses. A major cost factor to be considered is the current and future cost of the types of coal used in this process, but then vehicle fuel prices will also continue to rise !

Reply
Participant

Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 1
#11
In reply to #6

Re: The Perils of Partial Peak Oil

04/22/2011 6:23 AM

This is good site.

-------

Fancy

<a href"http://www.gov-auctions.org">auto sales</a>

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 12 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Anonymous Hero (1); elnav (1); fancydev (1); kevinm (2); kwcharlie (1); KyleT (1); mercendarian (1); mikejm224 (1); Phil D. (1); wilmot (2)

Previous in Blog: Corrosive Publicity   Next in Blog: Nuclear Fallout

Advertisement