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OPEC Sets the Stage for A Price Crash

OPEC Sets the Stage for A Price Crash

With shorts having spiked in…

Geopolitical Peak Oil: Has Unconventional Oil Production Peaked?

Peak oil is a myth; at least the chance of achieving peak oil any time soon is. It has been well documented that we have vast reserves of hydrocarbons buried beneath the Earth’s surface; huge shale formations, the vast oil fields in Brazil and South America, oil in the Arctic, etc. However maybe we should not throw away the term peak oil just yet, because now it seems as though we could reach peak oil in a geopolitical sense.

Shell offers a prime example where abundant oil reserves are proving far more difficult to develop than previously thought due to troublesome regulations and politics. Back in 2008 Shell paid $2 billion for permits to drill in the Arctic waters off the North Slope of Alaska, and since then it has spent another $5 billion trying to prepare everything for its exploration and drilling campaign. Yet after all that time, and all that money it has still not completed even one well; and it is no secret that they have started to have second thoughts about their entire Arctic adventure.

The truth is that most of the world’s largest unconventional plays are to be found in politically volatile markets. The US is just one example. Following the BP Gulf of Mexico Spill major international oil companies are now very wary of working in US waters, because any accident, no matter how faultless could well prove the end of the company involved.

To find out more on this topic please read a very detailed and interesting article by Matthew Hulbert on Forbes



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  • Jim C. on October 07 2012 said:
    People who claim that Peak Oil is a "myth" are generally ignorant of what the term means. But it's not for lack of having it explained to them! Why is it so hard to comprehend that oil depletes in a bell-curve, not a linear manner? The term "peak" refers to flow rates (intrinsically linked to extraction costs) and absolute reserves can be meaningless. The "peak" is the apex of maximum flow, and the U.S. achieved that way back in 1970. Graphs are easy to find.

    Treating all potential oil reserves as having equal flow-rates is a lie. It's like looking at a dry riverbed and claiming that it holds just as much water as a full river. In the real world, the river's flow peaked when it was full of water in rainy times. And water is mostly renewable. When oil wells peak, they rarely peak twice and can't be replenished by clouds, Jesus or abiotic pipe dreams.
  • Lore on September 29 2012 said:
    There is a big difference between "oil reserves" and actual "recoverable oil". Much of the unconventional oil reserves will never be extracted for the various reasons already pointed out. At some point, very soon, the EROI will not make sense. As an analogy, there may be a mountain made of gold on the moon, but it would be technically and economically impractical to mine it.
  • Charlie Richardson on September 28 2012 said:
    Peak is not, and never was, about the amount of oil in existence. It's about the peaking and then decline of annual production of conventional (i.e. cheap) oil. Yes, we can get really clever and bring more shale and tar sands into production, but for two reasons they will never fully or even nearly take the place of conventional oil in our economic picture. Firstly, shale oil and oil from tar sands has to be 'produced', i.e. manufactured, rather than 'extracted' like conventional oil. Therefore it's a process, a very expensive process (and a very environmentally damaging process, but that's not the point here). That means that we'd have to pay a lot more for it, which means we have less money to pay off our mortgage or buy other stuff that keeps people in jobs. Secondly, because it's a manufacturing process, it could never produce oil at the RATE that conventional oil is extracted. That means supply still can't meet demand, which of course adds even more expense, not only for our fuel but also embedded in the cost of everything that we buy, given that about 20% of the average cost of goods is the transport cost. Of course, it also means that some people, somewhere, are simply not getting the fuel, and since about 18% of fuel is used in agriculture and food distribution, that means starvation and war are likely scenarios across much of what we used to call the third world, followed by the rest of us.
  • EVsRoll on September 26 2012 said:
    The rhetoric sounds great, but the devil is in the details. You say" vast reserves of hydrocarbons buried beneath the Earth’s surface" Where exactly? I mean exactly!

    It turns out that as time goes on recovering those vast reserves becomes more difficult to pinpoint, and more importantly, much more expensive to recover. You are after sucking oil out of rock. Try it sometime.

    The alternative? Drive an EV. EVs can be powered with renewable energy which has the added benefit of a lot less air pollution.

    EVsRock!
    http://www.evsroll.com
  • Mobius007 on September 22 2012 said:
    We all now know that conventional oil peaked in 2005.

    It seems reasonable then to assume that non-conventional oil production will also peak in the near-future. Non-conventional oil, by it's very nature is more difficult and expensive to extract, and is thus also extracted in lower volumes than conventional oil.

    The distinction of whether peak unconventional oil will be caused by simple economic and physical realities, or "political" influences, is ultimately an utterly mute point.

    After all, peak oil (and all its consequences) is still one of the greatest challenges mankind faces, and pointing the finger of blame is a time-wasting distraction.

    Except for those who benefit from “wasting time” on this issue.
  • Mike Lohmann on September 22 2012 said:
    Peak Oil or not, the real issue is spare capacity. As soon as all of the worlds oil production is not enough to fill demand, there will be major price hike as we will be moving from a price based on production cost and competing suppliers to a value based cost with competing buyers.

    From that moment on, the house of cards that we call western civilisation with an economy based on consumption of finite resources in general, and oil in particular, will come crashing down.
  • Pierre on September 21 2012 said:
    Faultless ?? In complex operations faults will occur, always. The blame is not for them who experience faults, but for the businesses that do not prepare to cope with eventualities. BP experienced this just right, it was not about the blowout, it was the horror everyone experienced at BP's inaptitude to deal with the mess for 86 days. So when Shell is unable to prepare for eventualities, they don't drill, no discussion. And if they would, and if they would fail to deal with a fault, it's on themselves, and not on 'the regulations'
  • Mats lindqvist on September 21 2012 said:
    Peak oil will occur, no doubt, for geological, economical, and political reasons. We are currently on a plateau of about 90 Mbpd, for all liquids, including biofuels, non-conventional etc. Light, sweet conventional peaked in 2005. Oil is generally speaking, a government owned business. So the high price boost the economy in exporting nations, whose domestic oil consumption increases. Total exports peaked in 2005 and has been declining since. High prices hurt the economy in importing nations; trade imbalances are accentuated. "Debt" and "paper money" accumulates. Financial crisis. With peak oil in mind, the future value of paper assets such as stocks and bonds, is questionable. If oil exporters with trade surpluses (i.e. they are swapping oil for paper) reduced their exports to a level of zero trade surplus, 10-20 Mbpd would disappear from the market immediately. Canadian oil sands give 1-2 Mbpd, and is expected to rise to mayby 4-5 Mbpd by 2030. The world consumes about 90 Mbpd, of which most comes from conventional sources in decline. Non-conventional can alleviate the situation, but does not change the big picture. In the long run, it lies in the interest also of us importing nations, that exporters save their precious resource in the ground, instead of swapping it for paper, so that we can wastefully squander it, causing climate change and putting us deeper into debt. Given that the implication of peak oil is no more growth, and that all money in circulation is created as intereset bearing debt, ask yourselves if there is an incentive to deny peak oil.

    /Mats Lindqvist/ASPO Sweden/

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