Are we running out of oil? How do we know? Why should we care? What next—what can we do?
“We’re in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime set of economic conditions. [This] is not [temporary] recession. Rather, the economy is resetting to a lower level of business and consumer spending...” Steven Ballmer Chairman, Microsoft Corp.
Oil originates from the decomposition of microorganisms that got buried under geologic formations in the sea millions of years ago. In some cases the sea retreated, which explains why oil is also found on land.
Before the first oil well was dug in Pennsylvania in 1859 Mother Nature had made about two trillion barrels of oil and scattered it unevenly around the world. By 2004 we’ve used up about 0.9 trillion. In other words we’re near the half-way point.
Peak Oil Discoverer: Dr. King Hubbert Shell Oil Geologist/ Petroleum Scientist 1956 – predicted 1970 as U.S. Peak Oil year Came as predicted 1903-1989
ASPO: Association for the Study of Peak Oil European scientists & oil geologists from 12 countries Formed to address world leaders lack of concern for peak oil ASPO meeting 2003 May 28, Paris, France
ASPO View Note plateau of conventional oil and U.S. Peak Heavy, deepwater, polar oil very expensive
Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management Robert L. Hirsch, SAIC, Project Leader (commissioned by US Department of Energy, February 2005) EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.
A second coal study… From “The Future of Coal” report to the European Commission from the Institute for Energy (in draft) “[T]he world could run out of economically recoverable … reserves of coal much earlier than widely anticipated.” “The amount of actual recoverable coal is … less than the widely published estimates of reserves.” “[C]oal might not be so abundant, widely available and reliable as an energy source in the future.”