How Technology Lets Us Push Back The Day We Run Out Of Oil

from the peak-what? dept

In recent years, a confluence of factors including environmental concerns, geopolitical issues and worries about the scarcity of oil have led to record investments in green technologies as well as ethanol, whose green credentials are up for some debate. But all the same factors have also prompted fresh investment into the traditional energy industry as well. Paul Kedrosky points to a great article in the New York Times exploring the way the oil industry has greatly increased production levels at aging oil fields. The results are rather dramatic. Using new imaging technology and other engineering techniques, fields that had been good for just 10,000 barrels per day a few decades ago are now yielding over 80,000. And it's not just a matter of sucking oil out of the ground at a faster rate; companies actually have access to more total oil than they thought they could get out of these fields. It's important to keep these things in mind whenever people talk about things like Peak Oil or other neo-Malthusian theories of resource depletion. Typically, they all fall into a common trap. They look at the supply of a certain resource (Malthus, of course, originally talked about food production), and then calculate how much longer we'll have it based on an estimate of future demand. But the consistent mistake is in holding supply constant. As demand (and price) grow, technology often allows for the creation of more supply, even for a "non-renewable" resource like oil.
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  1. identicon
    Overcast, 6 Mar 2007 @ 6:46am

    OPEC jacks up the prices and then gets scared of new energy and backs them back down again. That's the whole core reason (other than the oil companies sticking it to us, when they can) for all the big price fluctuations. The Oil companies just time the market price and move in front of it to maximize profits - I guess it's their way of keeping a 'clear' conscious.

    Don't think for a second anyone in OPEC is even remotely interested in 'green' energy, lol.

    I don't think running out anytime soon is an issue - they said that over and over through the 70's and 80's - and there are plenty of oil fields still untapped, not to mention the countless barrels caught in shale in the US, that we are just now developing mining technology to get to.

    And I don't think it's all 'warming' up the atmosphere. If all this 'global warming' is man made - why do trees, layers or soil, rocks - all show quite clear signs of warming and cooling trends over the centuries.

    And don't forget - in the 70's they were going on and on about how 'Global Cooling' was going to turn the world into a frozen plain - anyone recall that?

    Just from one panic to the next - gives politicians a reason to exist huh? That seems to be the clearest reason for all of the above - politicians. (Not the left, not the right - all of the slimy bastards).

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