Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Peak Oil: Don't Worry, Be Happy

In Thursday's Wall Street Journal (sub required) we learn once and for all this whole Peak Oil thing is a bunch of nonsense.

Producers Move to Debunk Gloomy 'Peak Oil' Forecasts

Leading players in the petroleum industry, including Saudi Arabia and Exxon Mobil Corp., are aggressively arguing that plenty of crude oil remains for world consumption, in an effort to counter critics who contend crude output is about to plateau...

Yesterday, Abdallah S. Jum'ah, chief executive of Saudi Arabian state-owned Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company by production, argued during a speech in Vienna that the world has more than a century's worth of crude left at current production rates. His talk followed similar remarks by a senior Exxon executive this week. Spokesmen for Exxon and Aramco said they aren't coordinating their remarks...

At an OPEC seminar yesterday, Mr. Jum'ah of Aramco said the world had produced only about one trillion barrels, or about 18%, of the earth's producible potential of 5.7 trillion barrels of oil. "That fact alone should discredit the argument that peak oil is imminent, and put our minds at ease concerning future petroleum supplies," he said. The remaining 4.7 trillion barrels should be enough to last more than 140 years at current output rates, he said...

Mr. Jum'ah's speech came two days after Exxon's Australia chief, Mark Nolan, told an industry conference in Adelaide, Australia, that "the end of oil is nowhere in sight." Mr. Nolan cited a U.S. Geological Survey estimate of more than three trillion barrels of conventional recoverable oil resources, of which one trillion barrels has been produced. Conservative estimates of heavy-oil and shale-oil resources push the total to four trillion barrels, while a 10% increase in recoverability will deliver an extra 800 billion barrels, Mr. Nolan said.

A cynical person might think this news, coming from companies whose very existence depends on the sticky stuff, is an effort to keep oil prices from rising too far, too fast, thus accelerating the adoption of alternatives.

For example, this fella apparently don't appreciate all the hard work these oil companies are doing to lower prices on the products said oil companies sell:

Saudi Arabia, with a quarter of the world's proven crude reserves, has an interest in countering developments that would reduce demand. "If you are sitting on the world's biggest oil deposits, you would want to prevent the premature development of alternatives to oil," said Herman Franssen, president of International Energy Associates, a consulting firm in Bethesda, Md.

Ah, but Abdallah Jum'ah knew he would say that.

In an interview, Mr. Jum'ah said the Saudis "don't mind the development of alternatives to oil," because increasing energy demand means the world needs supplemental energy sources. But he objected to government subsidies and other supports that lead people to believe that alternatives like ethanol are a "panacea" that is "around the corner," he said.

Got that? Government subsidies, like, say, this one given to Chevron, are just wrong. And leading people to believe some panacea is around the corner is, like, oh I don't know, saying technology will solve the problems we're currently having getting oil and refined products to consumers.

Whatever. Either way I'm not going to worry about it, since I don't have to conserve energy and technology will bail me out.


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