Whenever I bring up the topic of Peak Oil people often tell me we have so much oil left we have nothing to worry about. I’m not sure where they are getting their information from other than what has become the rhetoric after 2007 when the way reserves are calculated which include oil from synthetics (like pyrolysis), Canada Tar Sand, and shale. First oil from pyrolysis depends on waste or trash and if we produce less trash there is less syn-oil. Second is Canada Tar Sands which is a mix of heavy oil with sand that requires millions of gallons of water and a huge amount of natural gas to become something liquid enough to put into a pipeline, but no one ever mentions that. Last Shale oil is not even in production at this time that I know of, but its still counted.
Turning trash or waste into oil has maybe a return of 2 or 3 to 1, Tar Sands after refinement and ready for sale of 1:1 at best and Shale would have the poorest of all returns in the negative, using more energy to bring it to market than it would return. Relying on these fuels is a definite sign we are running out of petroleum faster than politicians, economists or the industry will admit.
Critics of Hubbert like Bjorn Lomborg, Michael Lynch, and Dr. Michael Mills disagree with the Peak Oil view, or Dr. Marion King Hubbert who came up with the Hubbart’s Peak on oil. They believe the Peak Oil argument, decline in oil to be flawed. Not sure how that can be since resources all go through the same path of discovery, increase in use, and decline. All resources. Instead they believe that a rise in price of oil will bring new supply and demand into balance as not to result in intolerable economic damage. This makes no sense if a resource is running out and there is no more to be had. John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil when interviewed on CNBC in February of 2012 said, “I think OPEC is about maxed out. When people talk about spare capacity in OPEC, I don’t see it. I just don’t see it coming through and I’m not sure it’s there. And it’s not just that they’re greedy, but they’re really producing what they can produce.” Followers of Hubbert’s Peak believe what’s left is much smaller than actually reported. As oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, critics of Peak Oil believe its increased price will encourage an advancement in technology to develop alternatives. Just what these “alternatives” is a big question. In the U.S. if we were to convert all the farmland into fuel production like biodiesel and alcohol from cellulose we would just meet 50% of our liquid fuel needs. Where’s the other half coming from? Some claim a land mass the size of Texas could meet all our needs in liquid fuels, that would be for cars only not trains, planes, ships or anything else. Also no one bother’s to address the other half of a car that is made from petroleum like lubricants, wire insulation, seats and carpeting and so forth.
Lomborg, Lynch and Mills must have blinders on or promote a very narrow view of reality. It is such detractors that are keeping the world from moving forward. Unless we address the fact so many things in our society are made from or are dependent on petroleum we will never find an answer to the decline in oil and prices will not over come the fact that we are running out of oil. I would like to see a real conference where every view brought forward their data and information openly discussing, debating and publishing the information. We can’t go on someone’s word that something like price will cause some magical increase in oil finds or production. These types of views need to brought out for what they are, lies and distractions from reality.