Nah but recently I heard that 2 new oil fields have been found one off Brazil and the other in the Gulf of Mexico that could be as big as Saudi Arabias Gawhar (?) field which is massive...so I'm thinking we still have a while till any doom and gloom scenarios eventuate
I understand that the Bazilian find is in deep water and is 8 billion barrels - 25% of annual world demand. Doesn't sound so big
Yeh its a good documentary. I had a copy of both "A Crude Awakening" and "Crude Impact" until my hard drive crashed and I lost both of them....
Seems like things are going to come to a head at some stage in the future. I don't know how far out but it should unfold some time in future. Matt Simmons believes we hit peak oil production last year.
Demand for oil is relentless and only going to increase with the rapid industrialisation of China and India. You would think energy security should be one of the top priorities of the new government. We need to change over to an alternative, but I can't see that happening until the price of oil goes much higher. In my opinion oil is still too cheap to warrant massive change to new technologies. Maybe when oil is $300 + we will finally make the necessary changes.
Interesting times ahead thats for sure.
Last edited by xyzedarteerf; 27th-November-2007 at 07:49 PM.
A few observations given that I've been aware of this since 1988:
1. There is a serious lag between major discovery and subsequent peak production.
For example, Bass Stait was discovered in the mid-1960's - production peaked in 1985 (and is now all but completely over - it's no longer a major source of oil even in local terms).
US oil discovery peaked in the early 1930's. The subsequent production boom came in the 1960's and the US peaked in 1970. US oil production growth in the 1940's was based on pre-1930 discovery plus the smaller more recent discoveries. Production increased only modestly in the 50's, again based on smaller discoveries and the larger pre-1930 fields.
Much the same story everywhere from Saudi Arabia to the North Sea to Alaska. You don't find oil today and get the field going properly tomorrow or even this decade.
Even the optimists admit that we're years away from any production from recent discoveries in Brazil, Gulf of Mexico etc. Also, those fields aren't huge at all - a few billion barrels versus annual consumption over 30 billion barrels. They'll help but they won't push production back up if the peak occurs before then.
2. This is the truly alarming bit. Oil production globally peaked in May 2005 and has since been on a gentle DOWN slope. We need another 2 million barrels per day, plus several more to offset ongoing annual declines at most exisitng fields, just to get back to May 2005 levels. I haven't heard anyone, not even the optimists, claim that there are projects coming online anytime soon that will achieve this. It is thus quite probable that there is no point in debating the timing of peak - it was May 2005
3. Since May 2005 we've seen steadily rising demand and declining production. Where is the oil coming from? In short, we're drawing down above ground stocks. Clearly this isn't sustainable beyond a few years at best, especially when you consider that the rate at which stocks are depleted is rising as the supply versus demand gap grows. This is textbook as far as the expected outcome immediately post peak.
4. As of the 4th quarter 2007 (now) most forecasts show that we will not see a single quarter going forward where demand is not greater than supply. Seasonal fluctuation is thus now about the rate of drawing down stocks - they aren't likely to be refilled at all.
5. Natural gas is much the same although far less widely discussed. Discovery peaked in the 1970's and has followed a similar decline to that of oil, discovery of which peaked globally in the early 1960's. Also, gas is even more geographically concentrated than oil - Russia has nearly 50% and the Middle East close to 25% (notably in Iran and Qatar).
US gas production has been declining for several years now with prices soaring as a result. Canada looks to have peaked too. The UK and New Zealand have very clearly peaked with the UK in particular facing total resource depletion and production collapse in a matter of years.
Locally, Cooper Basin (SA) gas is in decline whilst Bass Strait is, depending on which figures you use, 40 - 50% depleted. With growing demand the second half will be used a lot more quickly than the first half - a worry given that we've only been using the stuff in significant amounts in Australia for 40 years. Add in gas use to replace oil for transport and gas becomes every bit as much a problem as oil.
As for WA and NT gas, that will either be used locally or (mostly) exported. It is not in practice available to SE Australia. Much the same seems likely with Qld coal seam methane and PNG gas given the LNG plans there.
6. Doomerish? Not at all. I'm just looking at the facts and noting what's going on. Australia is headed for a massive wake up on energy. A paradigm shift like no other.
Outcomes? I'll predict a few things locally.
A. Global warming will be effectively displaced by oil as a concern. People worry about the environment - until the fuel stops flowing or the lights go out.
B. We'll switch to electricity wherever possible. If it can be electrified then it will be. Things that are uneconomic become priorities when there is no alternative and they get done incredibly fast.
C. We'll see a lot of debate about electricity generation once it becomes clear that gas is not an easy way out of the problems associated with coal, nuclear and renewables and that demand will rise to offset declining direct fuel use.
I won't comment at this stage about specifics but I will say that I fully expect there to be 3 massively controversial projects, all in different states and using different technologies, which dominate the political debate at a national level. They will be built but not before an actual crisis.
Awww come on Smurf.....Originally Posted by Smurf1976
No actually i'm really quite interested in what you think these projects are likely to be. I'm thinking your implying nuclear (NSW/Vic/QLD?) and hydro (tasmania?) being 2 projects but arn't really sure on the other. Geothermal maybe? (South Australia?)
Only missing WA. Maybe they can have solar thermal. We certainly have the room and sun.
I reckon in NSW and QLD Solar panels should be fitted on every single rooftop and grid connected - feeding Industry all day - Make solar hot water compulsary.
Then go hard to and develop a local electric car, Tesla Motors have already done it, full electric sportscar for us100k.
Hotrocks, geo, wave and wind all have a spot here too.
Keep Nuclear as the very last option .
May Peace Be With You
Three oil/global energy crisis documenaries you must watch
A Crude Awakening
Crude (you can stream in at abc website)
The End of Suburbia (intelligent and insightful) - looking at the development of the car and how it coincided with the development of urban sprawl and the rise of the ''McMansion" - huge av jennings style houses in bogan outer suburbs - classic!
something doesn't necessarily have to be proven to 'actually' exist to have an effect that mimics the very likelihood that it does
I agree moXJO. Photovoltaics certainly are quite expensive but having said that there is that much money flowing into their development i wouldn't be surprised to see them become very cost effective within 10 years. Like numbercruncher said we have these masses of suburbs with wasted space on the rooftops. Certainly would make sense to turn that into a power generating asset if it can be anywhere near ecconomical.Originally Posted by moXJO
On the other hand solar thermal looks like it could be very promising. I know in california vinod khosla (sun microsystems founder and now venture capitalist) has signed contracts with PG&E for the electricity his new solar thermal plant is expecting to produce (the technology was developed in australia by a canadian scientist under the csiro but the gov cut his funding so he went offshore). He was saying that they intend to have a 2GW facility opperating at near the cost of coal after a smaller pilot plant. Don't know how reliable his figures are for costing but i'm eager to see how it develops.
Who Killed The Electric Car
its quite interesting how the electric car became so efficient and so economical that the auto makers decided there was no profit to be made on a car that virtually needed very little maintenance.
The easiest way to grasp the situation is to take the high level view of energy (worldwide in developed countries). I'll explain...
The developed world has 5 major energy sources and a few minor ones. The majors are oil, coal, gas, nuclear and hydro. The minor is predominantly biomass - largely as wood with a bit of ethanol etc. Also wind, geothermal, and solar are minor energy sources.
We use this energy in 4 main ways. For transport, heat, electricity and petrochemicals. Complicating this somewhat is that, for example, some electricity is used for heat and a small amount for transport (rail). But that's basically how it is - transport, heat, electricity and petrochemicals.
Transport - cars, planes, trucks, buses, trains, ships etc. Also lawnmowers, camping stoves, portable generators and anything else not able to be connected to a grid (electricity or gas) fits into this category.
Heat - all sorts of industrial processes, steel, paper, cement etc. Hot water, heating, cooking. All are simply using heat (steel also requires the carbon content in the coal).
Electricity - generation by any means to supply major grids each serving thousands to hundreds of millions of people.
Petrochemicals - fertilizers, plastics, lubricants etc.
Some end uses can use a wide range of primary energy sources, others can't.
For example, electricity is the same whether it's from the 100 year old Moorina hydro plant in Tasmania or a brand new nuclear plant. Different means of production but the product is exactly the same.
On the other hand, petrochemicals are at the other end of the scale. No amount of hydro or nuclear will give you usable plastic, lubricants or chemicals (it can produce fertilizer though).
Transport fuels are the big problem and are what the peak oil issue is properly focused on. Most oil is used for transport - we've already largely stopped using it for heat and especially electricity. Some is still used for those things, but it's not the major source. And of course most transport, with the exception of electric trains, runs on oil. Transport is where the problem is.
The good news is that most transport (road and rail) can use other fuels, especially natural gas. It has some disadvantages, that's why we're using oil in the first place, but it can be done if we have to.
The trouble is that there just isn't enough gas to use that to replace oil in transport and to also keep increasing its use for heat and especially electricity. Russia controls over 40% of world reserves and the Middle East about a quarter, so it isn't all necessarily available to the West either.
Whilst Australia has quite a bit, we're busily exporting that to countries which either didn't have much to start with (eg Japan) or where gas production has peaked (eg US). Gas production follows much the same discovery, production and peaking cycle as oil - the only good news is it's been less heavily used thus far so there's more left. But a long term solution it is not. That said, I'll keep the focus here in the next 3 decades to keep things realistic.
So, less oil, growing demand. We'll have to shift some oil use to something else. We've largely already done that with electricity generation and heat, so it will have to be transport that we switch to something else. And the easiest thing to switch to by far is natural gas.
Worth noting also that if we combine oil and gas and take them together, many still think we'll see a combined peak soon. That is, gas production will grow but not quickly enough to offset falling oil production. So the combined resource availability falls.
So if demand is to keep rising, and that is almost certain, then we've got no real choice other than to switch partly from oil to gas for transport and to stop using so much gas for other things - heat and electricity.
This is where the linkage between oil and electricity starts. Electricity is a massive fuel use and it's a lot easier to replace a few power stations than to replace millions of gas appliances. Electricity is far easier to switch from gas than heating. Also a lot more practical too - nobody really wants to have coal-fired heating systems in city buildings or a nuclear powered water heater at home. The scale of power stations makes the less desirable fuels more practical there than anywhere else.
Which leads us to the question of how we'll generate electricity. It's not oil and it won't be gas for too much longer. Which leaves us with coal, nuclear and renewables.
Looking to the Australian context, it really comes down to a question of do we stick with coal or not? If not then what do we use? It won't be gas in the long term. Even though we have plenty in the short term, international demand will soon take care of that and we'll be paying world market prices for gas, itself valued as an alternative to petrol, whether we like it or not.
Timing? A lot happens in Australia in the period 15 to 25 years from now. Hazelwood and Yallourn, that's half of Victoria's power generation, exhaust their respective coal mines. Various cheap gas contracts expire and existing fields will be nearing depletion. Also some of the NSW power stations will be getting pretty ancient by then, likewise SA.
So about 2024 - to the early 2030's is when we have to make the switch to something new. And it will have to be big - we're talking thousands of megawatts, not a few kilowatts. A major chunk of new generation coming online in an environment that will likely see rising demand - partly to replace oil and gas.
Part of the problem is lead time. If we wanted to build, say, a major new brown coal plant then we need to start physical construction in less than a decade to get it online in time.
Approximate timeline goes like this. 10 years to build a nuclear, hydro or greenfields brown coal plant. Plus maybe 4 years for all the political debate that will be required first. That means we need to start the debate going flat out, with firm proposals, in 2010. And if we don't then we're headed for trouble or at best continued reliance on easy (expensive) options like gas, oil etc.
Same with renewables etc. You don't go from zero to 4000 MW geothermal overnight. It will take years. Same with solar and all the others.
So in short that's it. Action needs to be taken around 2010 - 2012 in order to meet future demand. That's when we choose between nuclear, coal, solar, geothermal etc on the mainland and whether or not to revisit the dams debate in Tas versus reliance on large scale imports from whatever Victoria develops.
My best guess as to what actually happens is we miss the timing and end up with an outright crisis. Nobody willing to make tough decisions so they are put off. Then the lights really do go out, and what power we have gets expensive, and we end up desperate for anything that works.
To be continued...
do continue smurf1976...
no wonder the U.S. was stockpiling oil since the 70's they have seen this coming. Nuclear is also a band aid solution as the world supply of uranium will be depleted in less than 20yrs not to mention were to store the radioactive waste.
Oh yes i saw on TV recently these special moon rocks and one rock like the size of your hand can power a city for a week or something crazy, worth some mad figure of like a mill an ounce or something (Guesstimations from memory)
May Peace Be With You
Most of my knowledge on the subject originally came from reading things that were published 30 - 35 years ago. I personally became aware of it in 1988 and did a lot of research around 93-94. The info has certainly been out there for those who realised what was going on and decided to investigate.
Not a great deal has changed in that time, only a refining of forecasts, updating of figures etc. The basic concept and timing "somewhere near the turn of the century" hasn't changed.
As for others, I could point out that in Tas the Hydro was well aware of it by 1979. The Franklin issue was as much about oil as anything else. In engineering terms it seemed simple - replace oil-fired power and oil-fired home heating (very common in Tas at the time) with hydro. That point was very clearly made right from the start - well before any serious opposition to the dam emerged.
Not much has changed there. With that plan scrapped it took until 2003 before Hydro stopped needing to worry about oil. But that was by using gas, and it's a publicly disclosed fact that the eagerness to build Basslink was substantially about getting access to an alternative to gas - in this case coal - because they don't see gas remaining economic.
Others knew too. During the Newport controversy in Victoria the need to conserve oil/gas was a dominant theme. Indeed it was one of the only two real reasons for opposition to it (Newport is a gas-fired power plant which also burns some oil in inner suburban Melbourne).
So did South Australia, although their concerns were more local. SA built the Northern coal-fired power station and designed the last two boilers at Torrens Island for future coal-firing due to concerns that the state would at some point run out of gas.
And WA. The SECWA changed the deisgn of the Kwinana boilers half way through construction to also accommodate coal. They actually did do a major shift from oil to coal for generation in the late 70's. That shift being notable as one of the most dramatic in the world, from heavy reliance on oil to near total reliance on coal in a very short period of time.
And the NT ended up using gas for much the same reason. Originally it was going to be coal but gas won out. Point is they were desperate to get away from the oil which supplied 100% of Darwin's power until 1986.
So you could say that, in general, Australian state energy authorities knew three decades ago that oil wasn't viable in the long term. Some had similar concerns about gas and still do.
Continuing the original post...
One thing to understand is the difference between "power" and "energy". In simple terms, energy is the total quantity and power is the rate at which it is delivered.
To use an analogy, consider a water tank. The volume in the tank is the energy. How fast it flows out of the tank is the power.
Generally speaking, getting more power isn't too difficult. Just build another power station and you have more power. But what this issue is about is the energy - the fuel to run it.
So in summary, we have two choices. Either consumption declines along with oil or we tap some other primary resource. Given that the former would implode the banking system, the latter seems more likely at least for the medium term.
And the resources we have available are, primarily, coal, nuclear, unconventional oils (shale etc) and renewables (including geothermal in that category). In total, we'll be ramping up production (globally) from some combination of those resources. Short term gas will also grow, but known reserves are such that in the longer term it's as much a part of the problem as oil.
Considering Kyoto and any similar future agreement, coal isn't a goer unless either the emissions are ignored or somehow captured. Trouble is, capture and storage is very much in the "unconventional" category - it's just not ready to ramp up quickly enough (if at all). "Clean coal" is a term that's at least 30 years old and it hasn't happened yet.
Nuclear also has ramp up issues. We're not going from 400 or so reactors to 1800 (ie all non-renewable electricity) anytime soon. Indeed many of the existing reactors are near the end of their useful life. Given all the infrastructure needed with mines, processing, waste storage etc it's just not that easy. It will probably increase, but not enough to fill the gap.
Which leaves us with renewables. IMO we'll develop everything that is reasonably affordable and works. I'm not too keen on that, odds are it means trashing the environment in a big way, but I think it will happen.
Why? Because faced with the lights going out, things get done. Even the Greens will help ram legislation through parliament to build power stations when the threat is real. No impact studies, no environmental stuff. Not even worried about emission controls. Just build it.
If that's what a party founded on the basis of opposing power development does then it's hard to see mainstream politicians doing anything different. Just look how quickly the last power station strike in Victoria was resolved when supply actually fell short - went on for ages until supply didn't meet demand then it was fixed pronto. Heck, even Telstra fires up its diesels (losing money in the process) rather than risk being accused of not helping avoid a power shortage.
People tolerate water restrictions but they don't easily tolerate power restrictions. That's the very clear message pretty much everywhere. Hence when the trouble hits, things will get done no matter what the consequences.
As for the liquid fuels, you need to understand conversion losses. In short, whenever you convert energy from one form to another (eg solid to liquid, heat to motion etc) you don't get 100% efficiency or anything close to it.
So you put 100 units in and get far less back. 100 units of coal into the power station, at best a bit over 40 come out as electricity with the rest being lost in the process. For a car engine it's even worse - about 80% losses typically.
So if we convert, say, gas into diesel then we lose some of the energy content of the gas. The gas might contain as much energy as 10 million barrels of oil, but it won't actually produce anywhere near 10 million barrels once you convert it to a liquid - a lot will be wasted in the process.
The point here being that quite simply, it's not efficient to be doing these conversions. If we take today's coal consumption and turn it into petrol instead of using it how we do now then we'll actually have less energy available than today simply due to losses. Or more likely, we'll need more coal to offset those losses.
And finally, EROEI - Energy Return On Energy Invested.
Quite simply, it always takes energy to produce energy. It takes diesel to run coal trucks. Coal in cement kilns to build a dam. Coal in the steel works to build wind turbines. All sorts of fuels to produce a solar panel. And it takes oil to run the drilling rig to drill for oil.
But it's pointless, no matter what the price, to use more oil in the production process than is produced. This is a point many fail to understand. If it takes 100 barrels to produce 90 barrels then the process isn't viable AT ANY PRICE. $1 million per barrel doesn't change the fact that it's a loss not a profit in energy terms - and will generally also be a loss in financial terms.
That's the problem with a lot of the unconventional oils. Sure, there's plenty of oil in the ground. But it's useless if we need to burn all that and more in order to extract it. Useless at any price.
You wouldn't spend $100 to make $90. And it doesn't work to burn 100 barrels to recover 90 barrels.
This has financial implications too. For example,
You have an unconventional oil project that requires you to burn half of what is produced to run the process. That is, you have 100 million barrels of oil that can be extracted, but you'll need to burn 50 million barrels to make it happen. That leaves you with another 50 million to sell.
The trouble is this. You do the math and work out that at today's prices it costs $150 per barrel. Not quite viable but maybe in a few years.
Then you come back in a few years and oil is $200. Your project is now viable, right? WRONG! That expensive oil will increse the cost of all your materials, so it now costs far more to build. And more to the point, all that oil you're burning now also costs twice as much. End result - your project now needs $300 to be viable.
And guess what happens when oil hits $300? Yep, your costs have gone up again. Burning oil at $300 to run your process isn't cheap and construction materials have also gone up again. Still not viable.
There's a point where the lines do cross and it becomes viable. But if it needs a doubling of price to be viable in theory then in practice that's more likely a 10 fold increase. Hence all those promises that oil wouldn't stay over 30, 40, 50 and so on turned to dust simply because they were based on production possibilities, the cost of which has increased along with the price of oil.
For the record, if you take the Canadian tar sands then it's about 180 billion barrels recoverable. But they'll need to burn 60 billion barrels to do it (or some other fuel in equivalent quantity). So it's really a 120 billion barrel resource - the amount the world uses in 4 years.
Dick Cheney Just did an Interview and revealed his greatest fear ...
http://money.cnn.com/2007/11/22/maga...ion=2007112518So what is Cheney worried about? Oil. Specifically, the prospect of sabotage aimed at disrupting the oil market.
"Clearly the world depends on a global supply of oil, and that will continue to be true for some considerable period of time. Efforts to shut down the flow of oil could conceivably have a significant impact."
Cheney has done more than worry about it. When President Bush's 2008 budget was coming together, with the goal of balancing the budget in five years, Cheney nevertheless insisted on a $947 million line item: a speedup of the flow of crude into the Texas and Louisiana salt caverns housing the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The budget guys pushed back: Can't we wait until crude prices level off? No, the word came back from Cheney, this was urgent. That was all it took. "He doesn't weigh in on a ton of issues," said a person close to those negotiations. "But when he does . . ."
A quick google tells me the Texas and Louisiana salt caverns currently hold about 700m litres of Oil ....
May Peace Be With You