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1 Local Warehouse International Studies- Oil Politics

This title in other editions

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak

by

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak Cover

 

 

Excerpt

One

Why Look Beyond Oil?

The supply of oil in the ground is not infinite. Someday, annual world crude oil production has to reach a peak and start to decline. It is my opinion that the peak will occur in late 2005 or in the first few months of 2006. I nominate Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2005, as World Oil Peak Day. There is a reason for selecting Thanksgiving. We can pause and give thanks for the years from 1901 to 2005 when abundant oil and natural gas fueled enormous changes in our society. At the same time, we have to face up to reality: World oil production is going to decline, slowly at first and then more rapidly.

My late-2005 prediction is a statement about the smoothed average of annual oil production. As we go over the top of the smoothed average, individual years, like wine vintages, have their ups and downs. At the time of this writing (in the middle of 2004), the year 2003 had the largest oil production.1 However, production in 2003 was only 3 percent larger than the production in 1998. Thats not 3 percent per year; it is only 0.6 percent growth per year. World oil production has now ceased to grow. Decline is the next step. The picnics over.

My prediction of the world oil production peak is based on the methods that M. King Hubbert used in 1956 to predict the 1970 peak of U.S. oil production.2 (Hubberts method is explained in detail in Chapter 3). Even before I published my 2001 book Hubberts Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, half a dozen petroleum geologists had already published similar conclusions.3 Hubbert published his own world oil prediction in 1969; the more optimistic of his two scenarios placed the peak in the year 2000. On the other side of the debate, the U.S. Geological Survey published enormously more optimistic estimates for U.S. and world oil potential.4 Other analysts, using the USGS results, have predicted that world oil production will not peak until 2036.5

Thanksgiving

Between 1901 and 2005, oil and natural gas transformed our society. In 1901, the Spindletop well, near Beaumont, Texas, changed the basis of the petroleum industry. It opened the enormously productive area of the Gulf Coast, pushed U.S. oil production to first place in the world, displacing Russia, and introduced the rotary drilling rig, which is still the standard today. Moreover, the flow of water, oil, or gas into the well bore could be controlled. The last point, control of subsurface flow, removed the "gusher" scene from the routine oil business, except for accidental failures of the system.

M. King Hubbert was well known among geologists for several innovative ideas, usually backed by mathematical analysis. After his prediction of the U.S. oil production peak came true, conservationists considered Hubbert to be a folk hero. (© George Tames, The New York Times)

My parents, born in 1903 and 1904, grew up on farms in two different parts of Oklahoma. My mother claimed that the automobile was the major element of change, introducing social as well as personal mobility. Before the automobile, there were weekly trips in a horse-drawn wagon to the nearest small town to sell farm produce and buy supplies. The Ford Model T enabled my parents to find their way to Oklahoma A&M, now renamed Oklahoma State University. One of my aunts claimed that the major motivation for higher education was to get off of those farms.

The automobile and the oil business were made for each other. From 1859 through 1908, the major petroleum product was kerosene for lanterns. After that, automobiles and trucks became a rapidly expanding market. Oil refineries were gradually improved to turn a bigger fraction of the crude oil into gasoline. Oil exploration and production was a worldwide enterprise.

The year 1903 saw the Wright brothers first flight. The high energy content per unit weight of gasoline was even more important for airplanes than for cars. High-grade aviation gasoline became a profitable product, even though aviation was a smaller market than automobiles. With the 1945 introduction of the jet aircraft engine, a kerosenelike product known as JP-4 became important. Mobility is now global. It is possible today to travel door-to-door from a street address in any city in the world to any other city in less than twenty-four hours. Its not just people: Mail, computer components, mangoes, and asparagus move by air freight.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, agriculture was transformed. Tractors replaced horses, produce was trucked to wider markets, and mineral fertilizers became widely available. The Green Revolution of the 1960s used improved seeds, pesticides, and mineral fertilizers to make famine obsolete. It wasnt "organic," but it sure beat death from starvation. A measure of the importance of oil and gas: 80 percent of an Iowa corn farmers costs is, directly and indirectly, the cost of fuels.

A whole industry emerged for making products derived from oil: petrochemicals. An astonishing range of plastics, fibers, solvents, pesticides, and coatings are made from oil and natural gas. My guess is that petrochemicals will be the last, best use of petroleum as it becomes scarce. Using oil as premade building blocks for organic chemistry is better than burning it for fuel. When I am offered an unnecessary plastic bag at the grocery store, I reply, "No, save an oil well."

I visited England in 1967 and again in 1985, and I was amazed at the changes that had occurred in the meantime. The legendary poorly heated housing became warmed by gas newly discovered in the North Sea. A feeling close to hopelessness had been replaced by a whiff of prosperity. The wealth from oil and gas is very irregularly distributed throughout the world, both among countries and among individuals. Thats partly geology and partly politics. Big oilfields occur wherever all of the several required geological conditions are "just right." Our subdivision of the world into ever-smaller sovereign countries and the success of private-property systems concentrated much of the oil wealth into a few hands. An example: During my stay at the University of Cambridge in 1985, I needed a book in their main library. As I entered the building, I had the weird feeling that I wasnt in England anymore. The Cambridge main library looked American. I found a hallway display that explained it. The library had been built during the Great Depression, with Rockefeller money. Oil money.

Im not claiming that oil and gas generated all the goodies of the twentieth century. Computers and telecommunications succeeded in part because they used diminishing amounts of energy. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earths crust, so the supply of materials was never a problem. Well, there was some help from the oil industry. The patent rights for the integrated-circuit chip were shared by Texas Instruments and by Intel. At the time of the invention, Texas Instruments was a service company, conducting seismic surveys in the search for petroleum.6

Because I am a geologist, I have my own narrow reasons to give thanks for the growth of the oil industry. Well-staffed and well-funded research laboratories were developed by the major oil companies. To a geologist, the miracle was having top-grade physicists, chemists, and mathematicians on the staff, willing and eager to discuss geological problems. Two technological innovations were important because both of them generated objective, noninterpretive, data:

• Sensors were sent down wells, at the ends of electrical cables, to measure rock properties. Known as "wireline logs," they were run on virtually every well and are a rich source of data.

• Sound waves generated at the surface and reflected back from subsurface rock layers produced cross sections similar to the so

Product Details

ISBN:
9780809029570
Author:
Deffeyes, Kenneth S.
Publisher:
Hill & Wang
Subject:
Geology
Subject:
Energy
Subject:
Power Resources
Subject:
Forecasting
Subject:
Petroleum industry and trade
Subject:
Earth Sciences - Geology
Subject:
Real Estate - General
Subject:
Power Resources - General
Subject:
Petroleum reserves.
Subject:
Energy-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
March 2006
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
38 Black-and-White Illustrations/17 char
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
7.89 x 5.92 x 0.6 in

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Politics » Politics of Oil
Science and Mathematics » Energy » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Energy
Science and Mathematics » Geology » General

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak Used Trade Paper
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Product details 224 pages Hill & Wang - English 9780809029570 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
“This book explains both why the decline of our most precious fuel is inevitable and how challenging it will be to cope with what comes next.”Richard E. Smalley, University Professor, Rice University, and 1996 Nobel laureate

 

With world oil production about to peak and inexorably head toward steep decline, what fuels are available to meet rising global energy demands? That question, once thought to address a fairly remote contingency, has become ever more urgent, as a spate of books has drawn increased public attention to the imminent exhaustion of the economically vital world oil reserves. Kenneth S. Deffeyes, a geologist who was among the first to warn of the coming oil crisis, now takes the next logical step and turns his attention to the earths supply of potential replacement fuels. In Beyond Oil, he traces out their likely production futures, with special reference to that of oil, utilizing the same analytic tools developed by his former colleague, the pioneering petroleum-supply authority M. King Hubbert.

“The bad news in this book is made bearable by the authors witty, conversational writing style. If my college econ textbooks had been written this way, I might have learned economics.” Rupert Cutler, The Roanoke Times

Kenneth S. Deffeyes is Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. His previous book, Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, was published in 2001.
With world oil production about to peak and inexorably headed toward steep decline, what fuels are available to meet rising global energy demands? That question has become ever more urgent as public attention to the imminent exhaustion of the economically vital world oil reserves has increased. Kenneth S. Deffeyes, a geologist who was among the first to warn of the coming oil crisis, now takes the next logical step and turns his attention to the earths supply of potential replacement fuels. In Beyond Oil, he traces out their likely production futures, with special reference to that of oil, using the same analytic tools developed by his former colleague, the pioneering petroleum-supply authority M. King Hubbert.
 
An acknowledged expert in the field, Deffeyes brings a deeply informed yet optimistic approach to bear on the growing debate. His main concern is not our long-term adaptation to a world beyond oil but our immediate future: "Through our inattention, we have wasted the years that we might have used to prepare for lessened oil supplies. The next ten years are critical."
"This work would be useful as a current holding for serving students of political science, economics, science, and technology."W.C. Peters, Choice
"[Beyond Oil] is an authoritative, explicit, and timely view of energy alternatives in the coming exhaustion of the world's vital petroleum reserves. In clear and delightfully readable prose, Deffeyes (Princeton Univ.) uses insightful balance and aggressive analysis coupled with his own appropriate geological anecdotes and memories to view the capabilities of the replacement fuels that must be considered for use in the near future . . . Lightly illustrated, footnoted, and indexed, this book is intended to provide an intelligent readership with an appreciation for the temporal and technical aspects of postpetroleum energy considerations. This work would be useful as a current holding for serving students of political science, economics, science, and technology."W.C. Peters, Choice

 

"There is valuable information to be gleaned from this thoughtful and entertaining book . . . Deffeyes combines his expertise in science in general and geology in particular with anecdotes from his extensive work in the private sector as a petroleum geologist to assess potential alternatives to oil . . . For each, he describes its geological origins and the engineering difficulties that are associated with its production. In addition, he offers many engineering rules of thumb that influence the economic viability of the alternatives. Better than any economic cost-benefit analysis, this combination of theory and practical know-how gives the reader a better feel as to why there is still no obvious alternative to oil. As such, these chapters are ideal for non-specialists and undergraduates who are convinced that the world will eventually need a replacement for oil but wonder why people shy away from this need every time the price of oil drops from its most recent peak . . . Readers should remember that the book uses a methodology that generated a remarkably accurate forecast for one of the most important economic events in the twentieth century. And that creates the book's real take-home message: even if production does not peak in 2005, we all need to know that Hubbert's peak is coming soon, and we had better start thinking about a future without oil."Robert K. Kaufmann, Nature

 

"If my college econ textbooks had been written this way I might have learned economics."Rupert Cutler, The Roanoke Times

 

"Deffeyes is an amiable guide. With a consultant-cum-Rotarian's ease, he explores the angst from the downslide of geologist M. King Hubbert's predicted high point of production."Jane Holtz Kay, The Christian Science Monitor

 

"We are all hooked on oil, and oil is getting scarcer. Like it or not, changes are coming. But do we understand our choices, or even the variables that control our choices? Using aggressive analysis, common sense, and a liberal dash of humor, Deffeyes lays out our options. It's your life, your choices, your future; you can't afford to miss this book"Brian J. Skinner, Eugene Higgins Professor of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University

 

"With his folksy style and penetrating vision, Deffeyes tells it like it is. Beyond Oil is another nail in the coffin of the age of oil."David Goodstein, vice provost, California Institute of Technology, and author of Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil

 

"A valuable encore to Hubbert's Peak, this new book by Professor Deffeyes offers a wide-ranging overview of the world's energy alternatives 'beyond oil.' Its crystal-clear prose, easily understood by the layman, is peppered with anecdotes, memories, and scientific insights, mirroring the author's half century of first-hand experience in the industry."A. M. Samsam Bakhtiari, senior expert, National Iranian Oil Company

 

"In his new book, Professor Deffeyes stands on the world's peak oil output like Moses peering from the mountain top to the Promised Land. Beyond Oil is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced."Matthew R. Simmons, chairman, Simmons & Company International

 

"Deffeyes delves into the geophysical characteristics of the fuel's source rocks and how those affect the economics of retrieving it; he then returns the discussion to its beginning: that the world is near or on Hubbert's Peak. Deffeyes' background as an oil-company geologist and university professor lends a realistic pragmatism to his presentation, which is replete with personal anecdotes and funny remarks that enliven his text. A practical yet genial treatment."Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

"The world is running on empty, warns petroleum geologist Deffeyes, and yet Humvees continue to roll down

"Synopsis" by ,
"This book explains both why the decline of our most precious fuel is inevitable and how challenging it will be to cope with what comes next."--Richard E. Smalley, University Professor, Rice University, and 1996 Nobel laureate

With world oil production about to peak and inexorably head toward steep decline, what fuels are available to meet rising global energy demands? That question, once thought to address a fairly remote contingency, has become ever more urgent, as a spate of books has drawn increased public attention to the imminent exhaustion of the economically vital world oil reserves. Kenneth S. Deffeyes, a geologist who was among the first to warn of the coming oil crisis, now takes the next logical step and turns his attention to the earth's supply of potential replacement fuels. In Beyond Oil, he traces out their likely production futures, with special reference to that of oil, utilizing the same analytic tools developed by his former colleague, the pioneering petroleum-supply authority M. King Hubbert.

"The bad news in this book is made bearable by the author's witty, conversational writing style. If my college econ textbooks had been written this way, I might have learned economics." --Rupert Cutler, The Roanoke Times

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