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Robert Rapier

Robert Rapier

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Peak Oil Interview With Robert Rapier

Back in June, I gave a presentation on Peak Oil at the Global Footprint Conference in Siena, Italy. Following my presentation, I was asked to do a pair of interviews. One was for an upcoming documentary called Critical Mass. The second was for the conference itself, and that interview has just been made available and is embedded below.

Peak Oil Interview for the Global Footprint Conference

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Some of the ground covered in the interview includes:

- The misconception that Peak Oil means we are running out of oil

- The idea that oil will be very difficult to replace, and impossible to replace solely with biomass

- The danger posed by false solutions

- The difficulty the developing world will have in attaining a ‘First World‘ standard of living

- What will happen if oil peaks soon and declines rapidly

- The reasons for the rise in oil prices over the past decade

- That we are now comfortable with $80 oil — and why that is dangerous

- The fact that some “renewable energy” is mostly embedded fossil energy

- The reason I prefer thermochemical technologies over biochemical technologies

- The types of projects that my company is working on; primarily energy projects that can be operated on low fossil fuel inputs and ideally off the grid (i.e., projects that could provide meaningful energy in a world in which oil supplies are declining)

The venue for the interview was not in fact a prison cell, although it was in the basement of a very old building. Yes, I am squinting and frowning a lot, because the sun was coming through the window in my face. And yes, I do smile, although you may think I have no sense of humor based on this interview.

I have watched the clip a couple of times, and there are times that I misspoke, and times that I should have paused for some clarification around a point. For instance, I said that it would be impossible to replace oil with the solutions proposed thus far. I am mainly thinking of biomass; in fact it would be possible to replace many uses of oil in theory with nuclear or solar power provided certain technological challenges are conquered. I covered this idea previously in a thought experiment called Replacing Gasoline with Solar Power.


I also said that China could never attain a Western standard of living because there isn’t enough oil to allow their citizens to motorize in large numbers. Again, I am thinking in terms of the way the Western world is motorized; one could envision a high degree of mobility with small electric cars (for instance). So the point is not that it is impossible for them to motorize, but that they can’t do it as we did it because there isn’t enough oil to allow it.

The presentation itself was also filmed, and ultimately that is supposed to be available. When it is, I will post that here as well.

By. Robert Rapier

Source: R Squared Energy Blog

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  • Anonymous on September 23 2010 said:
    10 years ago oil was not $8 a barrel! Do you just make this stuff up? Do you still believe in the Global Warming Fraud?Hopefully one day the peak oil movement will disassociate itself from the environmental fraudsters! I can no longer read The Oil Drum because of all the doom and the Global Warming Fraudsters took over the site.
  • Anonymous on September 24 2010 said:
    The "basement of a very old building". I wonder if that could have been the hotel I stayed in earlier this year when I gave my song and dance at a conference on...About oil. OPEC is in charge. This is the message I am going to give a couple of seminar audiences in the next two weeks. That being the case, peak oil is irrelevant. The next oil price upswing is going to begin at about $75/b, and it may not stop before it cuts the global macroeconomy off at the knees.As for being worried about gloom and doomsters, I'm reminded a great American song that was not played at a great concert I attended last night in Stockholm: 'WHO CARES'. If I was worried about anything, it would be the cell phone junkies sounding off on the train going to Stockholm.
  • Anonymous on September 24 2010 said:
    OK, I think he might have got the $8 a barrel slightly off but the rest was pretty logical. Good luck to him!
  • Anonymous on September 26 2010 said:
    "10 years ago oil was not $8 a barrel! Do you just make this stuff up?"No, I don't make stuff up. It is more like 11 or 12 years now at this point, but in 1999 oil prices had dipped below $10 a barrel. You can see for yourself at the EIA:http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=WTOTWORLD&f=WThat's shows that the weekly world average went as low as $9.16 at the end of December 1998 and was below $10 several times in 1999. When the global average was $9.16, one could buy plenty of grades for $8.So no, I wasn't just making stuff up.RR
  • Anonymous on September 27 2010 said:
    Amazing, isn't it - the willingness of people to argue with facts. Yes, just over ten years ago the price of oil was about $10/b, and that compendium of London Wine Bar Wisdom, the 'Economist', was talking about it going as low as five dollars.It was that ten dollar per barrel price, and predictions of a lower price, that caused OPEC to 'straighten up and fly right', to use the words of a certain song. And ladies and gentlemen, they are now in the driver's seat. Moreover, this is where they should be, given the 'facts' in the oil market - facts that Mr Steve has decided to stop considering.
  • Anonymous on September 28 2010 said:
    $10 was not a normal price for oil. It dipped briefly down there in 1998 due to the over capacity brought on by the Asian Flu. Matt Simmons wrote many papers during that time period showing for the best of the class companies "all in cost" was over $18 a barrel. To talk as if $8 was a normal price for oil 10 years ago is as disingenuous as to say $30 could have been retained in 2009. And you didn't answer my question as to whether you still believe in the Global Warming Fraud. Or have you finally read about how they've "adjusted" the numbers all around the world to show warming. I can't stand the fact that the global warmings fraudsters have hijacked the peak oil movement.

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