[ExI] Whatever happened to peak oil by 2020?

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Tue May 7 00:45:18 UTC 2013

On Wed, 1 May 2013, Gordon wrote:

> On Aug 20, 2012, at 4:17 PM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> > FUCK YOU VERY MUCH, John. This is the only kind of response you'll be 
> > getting from me henceforth for a couple years: FUCK YOU.
> I hate to see this kind of language, but I can't say that I disagree 
> with the sentiment.
> Gordon

I might sometimes think such language, but on second thought, this is like 
example of ambivalence to be written down somewhere in wikipedia: you 
don't like somebody but you wish him to have quite a good time. This 
requires levels of sophistication barely comprehensible by me :-).

As of peak oil, it seems we are going to hit the wall one way or another, 
if nothing in our ways changes. There are some limitations based not only 
on resource availability but also on factors such as time available for 
consumption or even as esoteric as satisfaction not growing up after 
crossing some point of goods at ones disposal.

I cannot give any kind of direct proof, but judging from some news, it is 
quite possible we have had peak already. For example, comparing annual oil 
production per capita in 1987 (pop. 5bln, prod 56Mbbl/d) and 2012 (pop 
7bln, prod. 84Mbbl/d) gives:

[18]> (format t "~%annual bbl/capita~%   1987: ~A~%   2012: ~A~%" (/ (* 
365 56.51275L6) 5L9) (/ (* 365 84.820L6) 7L9))

annual bbl/capita  ;; i.e. barrel per capita
   1987: 4.12543075L0
   2012: 4.422757142857142857L0 (yes, apparently just 4 and some)

So we have a +7% increase, but on the other hand, inflation adjusted 
prices tripled, roughly ($40 -> $100-$110-$120-...). Clearly, someone 
could have pumped more, much more and still make gazillions even if prices 
went down to 80.

Yet this is not happening.


"OPEC had vowed in 2000 to maintain a production level sufficient to keep 
oil prices between $22–28 per barrel, but did not prove possible. In its 
2007 annual report, OPEC projected that it could maintain a production 
level that would stabilize the price of oil at around $50–60 per barrel 
until 2030.[109] On 18 November 2007, with oil above $98 a barrel, King 
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a long-time advocate of stabilized oil prices, 
announced that his country would not increase production to lower 
prices.[110] Saudi Arabia's inability, as the world's largest supplier, to 
stabilize prices through increased production during that period suggests 
that no nation or organization had the spare production capacity to lower 
oil prices. The implication is that those major suppliers who had not yet 
peaked were operating at or near full capacity.[58" [6]

So, Mr Clark (if I am right) postulated there was increase in production, 
hence there was no peak. I would say to this, real life systems are not 
flip-flops. When I turn radio off, it still sounds for a short while. When 
I turn engine off, it still rotates for a while, even gives impression of 
momentarily increased speed. Actually, even real life flip flops do not 
behave like ideal flip flops, if one looks carefully.

Oil production is real life system (even with many parties meddling and 
adjusting it). I guess, as prices increased so much, there are simply more 
wells profitable enough to pump. And given all the riots few years ago, 
possibly caused by failed (and apparently abandoned now) attempt to pump 
more biofuels (and increase food prices), I guess governments will do just 
about anything to maintain oil production at some nice level (including 
switching to coal and synfuels). We can still go back to 1987 levels, but 
this will make developing countries very unhappy (or everybody somewhat 
unhappy, in an unrealistically optimistic scenario).

Perhaps this "maintaining" will allow to buy some more time (again, 
optimistic, assumes decision making people act before catastrophes).

BTW, it is obvious (to me at least) that any reasonable alternative 
(nukes, solar) is not going to do the job alone. Unless some new tech 
emerges - so I am holding my breath - well, ok, I'm just pretending, not 
really holding it. You guys dispute this, and it's more like "we can't 
build 30TW of nukes overnight" vs "we can't build 30TW of solar 
overnight". Can't you just f*king build a bit of each? Especially that 
there is still enough steam to try few alternatives at the same time. 
Afterall, I think there is a bigger problem to solve than getting
"Mr f*ing 100% right" prize.

Certainly "a bit" would not solve the whole problem, still it would have 
been "a bit" better than nothing.

And BTW, I am not afraid neither of nukes nor of solar. I will be happy to 
have thorium in my basement and solar on the roof, please. And a computing 
cluster in between, of course. But I don't want coal plant nearby, and I 
don't want to live under wind turbine (one such turbine recently broke in 
England under heavy wind). [9][10]

And, BTW2, all of this could in retrospect become just a very high level 
marketing campaign, so I refuse to go emotional about the subject.


[1] http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?product=oil&graph=production


[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil#Historical_oil_prices

 (esp. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oil_Prices_1861_2007.svg )

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_oil_production







Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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